Sustainability in a decisive phase (1): An integrated market approach

Market processes must deliver socially desirable outcomes. Sustainable markets are created through interaction between good goverance, active civil society and companies committed to corporate social responsibility, says Nico Roozen. 

Solidaridad's commitment to making production chains more sustainable is attracting increasing support from society, government and consumers, and – crucially – in the company boardrooms. From being a marginal concern, sustainability has been elevated to a core value in the economic process. The sustainability debate is now growing in intensity as scientists send out conflicting information and oposition from vested interests and ideologies comes into focus.

Now the challenge is to demonstrate that sustainability makes a real difference – a difference to farmers' incomes, to working conditions, to the environment, and in the availability of raw materials and agricultural products for future generations.

An integrated market approach

Solidaridad believes that the transition to a sustainable economy is the market process. The necessary changes will have to take place in the market, driven by market players and by market forces. Companies should restructure their supply chains and markets must support the transition to sustainable production and consumption. Market process must deliver socially desirable outcomes, but this is not self-evident and will not happen automatically.

Sustainable markets can be developed through the interaction with civil society organizations and urge an increasingly less interventionist government to take the necessary action; civil society organizations will have to move out of the margins and become transition managers; and governments must develop modern regulatory instruments and incentive mechanisms. This process requires all three types of players to be innovative and work in unison in a market process geared to more sustainable production and consumption.

Solidaridad has chosen to operate in this dynamic arena. As a development organization our new role will be to manage the transition towards sustainable supply chains and stimulate public engagement and good governance.

This is part one out of three blogs based on a publication by Nico Roozen, Solidaridad Network Executive Director, in our Annual Report 2010, but is still considered to be important for our work. Next week part two.