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Greenwish: The Wishful Thinking Undermining Sustainable Business

We are pleased to introduce an important idea from Duncan Austin who recently left a large sustainable investment firm after many years: “Greenwishing.” Duncan’s important message, coupled with John Elkington’s product recall last year on “triple bottom line,” a term he coined 25 years ago, reflect the growing consensus that sustainability in business is not working. Instead, the chorus for systemic transformation is growing.

From the outset, the sustainable business movement has confronted instances of so-called greenwash, twenty years on, we may now be facing a new affliction of greenwish – the earnest hope that well intended efforts to make the world more sustainable are much closer to achieving the necessary change than they really are. This unsought condition may prove every bit as harmful as greenwash, and possibly harder to unpick, because it is more widespread and arises mainly from good intentions.

The good news is that systems can and do change, and only change in response to pressure.

You can read Duncan’s full paper here

Rebecca Mills