Triple Bottom Line

Decent Essays


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Page 1

Chapter 1

Enter the Triple Bottom Line

John Elkington

In 1994, the author coined the term triple bottom line. He reflects on what got him to that point, what has happened since – and where the agenda may now be headed. The late 1990s saw the term ‘triple bottom line’ take off. Based on the results of a survey of international experts in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development (SD), Figure 1.1 spotlights the growth trend over the two years from 1999 to 2001. As originator of the term, I have often been asked how it was conceived and born. As far as I can remember – and memory is a notoriously fallible thing – there was no single eureka! moment. Instead, in 1994
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As we move into the third millennium, we are embarking on a global cultural revolution. Business, much more than governments or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), will be in the driving seat. Paradoxically, this will not make the transition any easier for business people. For many it will prove gruelling, if not impossible.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Markets Values Transparency Life-cycle technology Partnerships Time Corporate governance Old Paradigm Compliance Hard Closed Product Subversion Wider Exclusive

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New Paradigm Competition Soft Open Function Symbiosis Longer Inclusive

Figure 1.2 Seven sustainability revolutions

Revolution 1 will be driven by competition, largely through markets. For the foreseeable future, business will operate in markets that are more open to competition, both domestic and international, than at any other time in living memory. The resulting economic earthquakes will transform our world. When an earthquake hits a city built on sandy or wet soils, the ground can become ‘thixotropic’: in effect, it turns to jelly. Entire buildings can disappear into the resulting quicksands. In the emerging world order, entire markets will also go thixotropic, swallowing entire companies, even industries. Learning to spot the market conditions and factors
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