Policy & Action
The American Sustainable Business Council works with its members to develop a vision and policy framework for a sustainable market-based economy. A truly sustainable economy requires the responsible stewardship of all types of capital – social, financial, intellectual, and natural. All of these must be tended to make the economy productive, resilient, competitive, and equitable for businesses and their communities.
Our call for a sustainable economy flows from both pragmatic and moral considerations. Morally, we recognize the fundamental rights of all people to develop their talents, earn a living wage, and be treated with dignity in the workplace. Pragmatically, without sustainability, our economy will stagger under the weight of rising inequality and other externalities, such as climate change.
All people engaged in the economy are interdependent. Each is both consumer and producer, both earner and spender. These roles must be kept in balance; jobs are created when consumers have money to spend and destroyed when they don’t. Businesses cannot succeed unless consumers have the ability to spend and the confidence to spend it.
Based on these principles, we engage in a wide range of policy issues. ASBC works to explain the need for sustainability to policy makers, business leaders, and the public at large. We pursue opportunities to develop new policy alternatives and business practices that reflect the triple bottom line criteria (people, planet, and profit) and lead toward a more sustainable economy.
The ideas of stewardship and wise investment to secure future prosperity is neither conservative nor liberal, neither Democrat nor Republican. It is a fundamental tenet of successful business and a core component of the American Dream.
Global temperature has been on the rise, with the first decade of the 21st century the warmest on record. Overwhelmingly, scientists agree that man-made climate change is occurring. Climate events are indisputably more frequent, more severe and more destructive. Yet many policymakers have avoided meaningful action to reverse these effects, sometimes claiming that addressing climate change would hamper businesses and the economy. The opposite is true.
ASBC is bringing together a broad variety of business voices to advocate for reduced nutrient pollution, better water infrastructure, and policies that make businesses more resilient to floods and droughts. In the end, we hope our work shifts the dialogue on water issues so that there is a greater balance of business perspectives, including the economic reasons for sensible clean water regulations.
Unless opportunities and gains are shared equitably among all workers, owners, and business leaders, we will not have strong, ongoing economic growth. Inequality among ethnic groups, women, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities hinders prosperity for all and fuels the need for safety nets in lieu of self empowerment, independence, dignity and respect. Much of this inequality stems from long-standing, systemic and structural inequities in the economy that have kept certain groups from having a fair chance to get ahead. The playing field is not level.
High Road companies see their employees, the communities in which they operate and the products and services they provide as equally important to their financial success. These companies hold a long-term perspective and view the workplace as a means to create significant business and social impact. They reject low-road business models that exploit employees and disregard the environment as the basis for success.
Regulations are essential tools for ensuring that markets meet the needs of all stakeholders, not just investors. Regulations are needed to create the conditions under which society as a whole can prosper, so that healthy consumer demand can exist to support a growing economy. Good regulations tend to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in addition to limiting or preventing destructive forms of economic activity.
Moving away from toxic substances toward safer and cleaner chemicals and products will drive innovation and job creation while also making workplaces and communities safer. By changing the laws that govern the rules of how chemicals in commerce are used, tested and reported on, we can establish a fertile landscape for green and renewable chemistry to create new and exciting alternatives to toxic chemicals. Downstream uses can have the confidence of knowing what is in the products they make and sell when meaningful transparency rules are in place.