Along with the growing alertness for the environment, sustainable development (SD) has become a popular term in the business world, so popular that it even exists in the form of mutual funds. One might think it is actually a good thing as you can get two birds with one stone (prospect earnings along with good consciousness).
However, an article in The Globe and Mail, “Sustainable development for sale”, is questioning the integrity of the companies promoted by those SD mutual funds. Some of the corporations that have been included in the funds seem doubtful when it comes to social responsibility. According to the article, the SD term appears to have been overexploited as a marketing tool through corporate communication which has, according to the author, “cheapening its value”. The article also states that the term is not well defined as it has sometimes been referred to the sustainability of the firm rather than the actual resources. Furthermore, SD is virtually inconsistent with the vocation of some industries such as oil companies and petroleum is a limited resource.
Personally, I agree with the article. While taking advantage of the ecological movement, some companies might have use the term SD for their own benefits rather then with good will. A comparison can be made with the food industry. With the increasing popularity of healthy nutrition, the food industry has been using various health-related labels to promote their products. However, we all know that “low fat” does not necessarily mean good for health. This being said, I still think that despise the abuse of the SD term, there is at least a growing awareness surrounding the actual concept and this awareness is in my opinion, already a good step forward.