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How Have International Business Discourses on the Environment Changed over the Last Decade?

[journal article]

Rutherford, Paul

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Abstract One group of discourses often neglected within the study of international environmental politics are those of business actors. Comparing two key events in international environmental politics, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and the 2002 Johannesburg Earth Summit, provides an excellent opportunity to examine the changing character of business discourse over time. This article systematically analyses and compares the business–environment discourses of two books written for the summits respectively, representing the view of the international business community: Changing Course (1992) and Walking the Talk (2002). The comparison of both texts reveals some continuity but also major changes. One area of continuity is that business discourses on the environment attempt to mask a traditionally antagonistic view of environmental issues. Major changes include an increasing willingness to reach accommodation with environmental non-governmental organizations and a desire to overcome business's traditionally defensive, reactive role. Characterizing this is the adoption of a proactive approach to shaping the international environmental agenda. The article also discusses the significance of these findings for our understanding of the environmental role of business in a globalized society.
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy; Ecology, Environment
Free Keywords business; discourse analysis; hegemony; sustainable development
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 79-105
Journal Global Social Policy, 6 (2006) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)