PUBLICATION Journal article

Transnational corporations, biosphere stewardship, and sustainable futures

Corporations are perceived as increasingly powerful and critically important to ensuring that irreversible climatological or ecological tipping points on Earth are not crossed. Environmental impacts of corporate activities include pollution of soils, freshwater and the ocean, depletion of ecosystems and species, unsustainable use of resources, changes to air quality, and alteration of the global climate. Negative social impacts include unacceptable working conditions, erosion of traditional practices, and increased inequalities. Multiple formal and informal mechanisms have been developed, and innovative examples of corporate biosphere stewardship have resulted in progress. However, the biosphere crisis underscores that such efforts have been insufficient and that transformative change is urgently needed. We provide suggestions for aligning corporate activities with the biosphere and argue that such corporate biosphere stewardship requires more ambitious approaches taken by corporations, combined with new and formalized public governance approaches by governments.

Keywords: accounting, corporations, governance, private sector, resilience, social-ecological

Österblom, H., J. Bebbington, R. Blasiak, M. Sobkowiak, and C. Folke. 2022. Transnational corporations, biosphere stewardship, and sustainable futures. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 47:609-635.