Social justice, business and the pursuit of sustainability

Join us in Oslo in December to explore the complex, interconnected questions concerning social justice and human rights in the pursuit of sustainability, with a particular focus on the role of business and of state regulation of business.

The adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 have given new impetus to the debate on how to achieve sustainability, at the same time sharpening the debates on how to achieve it. Questions of social justice have a prominent place in this discourse.

As this SMART Conference will address, there remains a significant risk that the pursuit of sustainability will fall victim to vested interests, negatively impacting on industrial development in emerging economies, or fail to effectively navigate the emerging political struggle, including over the social impacts implied by the transition to sustainability.

Division of labour between states and private market actors

The discussion of the role of business in securing the social foundation for humanity within planetary boundaries goes to the heart of the discussion of the division of labour and responsibility between states, domestically and internationally, on the one hand, and private actors, on the other. While states have an overarching responsibility in setting domestic and international frameworks to protect the environment and human rights and secure the social basis for their peoples, well-known gaps and incoherencies in the regulatory framework, inform the recognition that we cannot rely solely on a compartmentalised and fragmented regulatory framework to promote contributions to sustainability by international businesses.

There is also no clear public/private distinction between the state and business. In some instances, states and other public bodies are directly involved in business, notably as controlling shareholders and as institutional investors. Conversely, there are prominent cases of strong corporate influence and outright corporate capture of legislation and of regulatory enforcement. More benignly, companies also provide public services. A holistic perspective, encompassing public, private and hybrid forms of business, must therefore inform a discussion of the contribution of business to sustainability.

This conference will explore the complex, interconnected questions concerning social justice and human rights with a particular focus on the role of business and of state regulation of business. We have invited contributions from all relevant disciplines to submit proposals within or accross the themes of conceptual or theoretical discussions on fundamental aspects of sustainability; policy coherence for global sustainability and the role of business and business regulation in securing the social foundation for humanity within planetary boundaries. 

Programme

A detailed programme will follow for this lunch to lunch conference, which will be open to all interested including scholars, policy-makers, students and practitioners. Hold the date – or register here already today.

 

Published June 4, 2019 8:30 AM - Last modified Aug. 12, 2019 3:00 PM