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Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability

Speaker/Convenor: Peter Dauvergne (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

Date: 28 Oct 2013 18:00

Location: Seminar Room 1, ODID, 3 Mansfield Road

Series: Global Governance & Diplomacy Public Speaker Series

After decades of mostly greenwashing efforts, big-brand companies like Walmart, Nike, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s are now competing surprisingly hard to position themselves as “sustainability leaders” – adopting farsighted goals and driving change through core operations and global supply chains. On the surface the prospects appear enticing and benefits are certainly resulting. Governments and advocacy groups are eagerly partnering to lend the companies credibility and leverage the governance potential.

Yet, as Peter Dauvergne will discuss (based on his 2013 MIT Press book, Eco-Business, with Jane Lister), multinational retailers and manufacturers are defining and adopting sustainability strategies to achieve traditional corporate goals: reducing costs, improving quality and performance, maintaining consistent supplies, increasing sales and markets, and building brand reputations. Sustainability defined in this way is reinforcing and further concentrating big-brand economic power. And, as Dauvergne will elaborate upon, it is contributing to rising big-brand governance power to leverage nongovernmental organizations, guide governments, and control long chains of global production.

Peter Dauvergne is professor of international relations at the University of British Columbia, and author of The Shadows of Consumption (MIT Press, 2008), which received the Gerald L. Young Book Award in Human Ecology.

A video of an interview Professor Dauvergne gave prior to the seminar is available here.

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