The proposition that technology offers to the sustainability debate is to enable business models that create better social and environmental outcomes. In some cases, those outcomes are the objectives of a business; but more often they are the side effects of business operations whose objectives are to create financial returns.
The CEOs of Unilever and Tesco have recently stated intents to evolve their businesses to adopt more sustainable practises, and to be more successful as a result of doing so. Our world as a whole, and the cities in which life is concentrated, will not become socially and environmentally equitable and sustainable unless private businesses adopt such sustainable strategies.
We need to think creatively about how to balance social and environmental outcomes with the financial imperatives of our existing economic systems. I wrote an article on my blog this week about five approaches that can already be seen that show how that balance can be found in different ways, from big business to social enterprise to technology entrepreneurs.