Impacts of business in society


Sustainability is the conceptual framework for assessing not only business activities specifically, but also concerns the various impacts of business in society which are far-reaching and pro-found.

This approach initially focuses on the outcomes whether the business may operate sustainably or not. It was in the developing stage base with a narrow phase as a great portion of perspective is concentrate to the economic rather than the environmental and social aspects. It can be measured in the monetary terms.

The most common term of sustainability is the usage of sustainable development. It defines that development should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability in future generations to meet their own needs.

The concept of modern sustainability has been broadened to three aspects. They are environmental, economic and social perspectives. The three perspectives will be discussed later on. Sustainability can be most completely illustrated by a triple bottom line. It gives rise to the public concern of the grave consequences which are incurred by the business activities that without long-term maintenance of systems. The standpoint of sustainability has been expanded from the shareholders' view to the view of stakeholders' whom may affected by the business activities.

Triple Bottom Line (3BL)

Environmental perspective

Since all resources in bio-system are limited, sustainable operation must not threaten the health of those resources. The fundamental notion of sustainability in the environmental consideration refers to the long-term maintenance of physical resources in order to conserve for the future generation.

Economic perspective

Economic perspectives can be divided into different levels. The narrow concept regards to the ability of money-making of the corporation itself that would exclude the company's attitude towards and impacts upon the economic framework in which it is embedded. Boarder concepts??

Social perspective

The core ides in social perspective on sustainability is that of social justice. That's the corporation's duty to distribute the finite resources with a fair base. There is an inseparable relation between the three perspectives. It is impossible to develop social perspective on sustainability without the supporting of the other two perspectives since the social perspectives are the pro-found influences embedded in the surface of either economic or social perspectives.

Activities of OUHK

"Open Garden"

It was set up in 1998 in Sai Kung Country Park. Through the "Open Garden", the students, the graduates and the staff may show their concern for the environment by participating in tree planting and weeding activities.

"Carbon Audit, Green Partner"

The OUHK has signed the Carbon Reduction Charter in August 2008 and is the founder member of the "Carbon Audit, Green Partner" which coordinated by the Hong Kong Government. The activities carried out to support of greenhouse gas emission reduction.

"Earth Hour Campaign"

The OUHK joined the campaign organized by WWF called "Earth Hour Campaign". It is an activity that giving peoples a voice on the future of our planet and working together to create a sustainable low carbon future for our planet.

Application in 3BL of OUHK

Environmental perspective

The OUHK has concentrate efforts on environmental protection for many years. Over 1,000 people have joined the "Open Garden" scheme. Through the tree planting and the weeding, it can make greener in the country park and may produce more fresh air to Hong Kong and reduce air pollution as the plants are absorbed the carbon dioxide and generate oxygen.

It has introduced numerous of measures to foster a green culture within the University. In addition, more energy-saving materials have been used. For examples, the water-cooled air conditioning system, free cooling mode during cool air condition, occupancy sensor to control lighting at classrooms, computer laboratories and language laboratories at the Campus Phrase II. Staff and students are encouraged to separate waste using the recycling bins on campus. Moreover, the OLE system for staff and students and the webmail system make use of internet. It may share the handouts, PowerPoint and notes from the lecturer to the students by the OLE system and for the webmail, the institute may distribute information about itself and some notice for students. Both of them may reduce the paper waste. It is notorious that global warming was caused by greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide is one of the major ingredients that may damage our environment or even our health.

In March 2009, the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) joined the campaign organized by WWF called "Earth Hour Campaign". On 28 March from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, Ho Man Tin Campus had been switched off all unnecessary lighting and electrical installations to support for the campaign. OUHK devote oneself to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment with the intention of carbon reduction.

Social perspective

The above cases are the typical example that the OUHK has performed a series protection to maintain and conserved the physical resourced for the future.

From the environmental perspectives, OUHK was acting effectively in the role of saving resources. To left the standpoint of environmental, the implications for business ethics of such thinking occur on different perspectives.

In the activity of Earth Hour Campaign, the purpose does not focus on how much carbon has been reduced, the signal embedded is to teach and encourage everyone to stop the damage on the earth. It is a much more far-reaching mission related to the social perspective on sustainability.

After the staff, the graduates and the students learn how to plant tree and how to weeding, they may teach the others who do not know. Moreover, they may share their experience of planting trees and weeding to let Hong Kong people know how the public destroy our environment and how difficult to reconstruct a green area.

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