Sustainable Enterprise sets out from the recently expressed human need for quality of life, which inevitably presupposes a sound state of the environment. This need leads to the demand for new products and services and requires a general change in the economy. Involved in sustainable enterprise are many partners, even the state, but with the role of the private sector and of local government predominant.
The regions in which it functions are the protected regions and those around these, as well as others which show a trend towards quality of life, or are regions with special needs. Sustainable enterprise is still at its beginning, and for that reason needs the appropriate support.
The alternative new economy
Sustainable enterprise is an emergent form of economic activity which is based first and foremost on vital needs which relate to the quality of life and of the environment.
These needs call attention to nature and its maintenance as a vital pillar not only of economic activity but also of the sustainability of society.
Sustainable enterprise is a branch of enterprise with a large-range field. This branch is based upon:
1. A new demand for products and services, which is its prime cause. This demand may be either the individual demand of the consumer or social demand for a new range of products and services.
2. New planning.
3. A restructuring of the economy in its entirety as regards nature, society, and man.
These new products and services are called upon to carry out two important missions: on the one hand, to help in the adaptation of the economy to nature and social development, and, on the other, to meet the need of consumers for another quality of life which comes after the acquis of prosperity of the developed economies.
These two needs have a common locus, but also a differentiation between them. What is certain, however, is that they have a shared prospect of their fulfilment.
The categories of green 'entrepreneurs'
Sustainable enterprise is a sector in which we can see the following in action:
A. First and second-level local government, producers' groups, co-operatives, and consumers' organisations, thus shaping a new framework of products and services being offered. A new commercial relationship and dynamic, giving shape to a new market, also has a place within this framework.
B. In addition, the universities, the non-governmental organisations, and related companies are active in the sector of sustainable enterprise, and in various research fields and monitoring programmes.
C. In certain other areas, the non-governmental organisations (on their own or in corporate forms), the management agencies of protected regions, and even the state itself are active. The state possesses a 'green lever' of enterprise which serves as an activity which shapes an economy of scale and strategic planning for sustainable development.
D. However, the most crucial point for sustainable enterprise, the most crucial dynamic is located and will be located in a purely private economy direction. This is because this is an area of challenge for new entrepreneurs, for women - as for these it is a privileged field and a way into soft production activities - or for new corporate forms. This challenge becomes apparent in the demand for the manufacture of new products and in the determination and meeting of a new consumer demand which will be able to fulfil the terms both of sustainable development and of that special side of sustainable development which fulfils the terms of detachment.
Detachment includes the reduction of material flows which burden nature, but in such a way that the prosperity indicators are not reduced.
Where sustainable enterprise is practised
1. In protected regions
Sustainable enterprise is a privileged and definitive branch of economic activity for the sustainability of protected regions.
In the protected regions, sustainable enterprise serves to turn a comparative disadvantage of intensive development - because of the special restrictions to which it is subject in these regions - into a comparative advantage of another direction. Thus in the protected regions that dynamic which is the pilot and the innovation for eco-development, for the nucleus of that model of development which must increasingly spread in the twenty-first century, takes shape.
These regions are distinguished by an emphasis on the quality of sustainable development. Although the core of a protected region is a field from which enterprise is, for the most part, absent, nevertheless it is the part of the protected region which surrounds this core in which these new entrepreneurial activities with the specific quality will be mainly practised. Similar activities will also be practised in the broader region which surrounds the whole of the protected region.
Consequently, the internal zoning of the Natura regions (i.e., their division into zones), as can be seen in the MPs (Management Plans) and the SESs (Special Environmental Studies) determines and differentiates the economic activities permitted depending upon the degree of protection sought for each zone, as we shall see below.
2. In non-protected regions
These may be either the broader region which surrounds a protected region or another which has no connection with one which is protected. These regions are marked by a demand for a new quality of life which is linked with the protection of the environment and of nature, and so has an equilibrium between it and man as its aim.
A host of policies, on water, energy, consumers, waste, etc., are accompanied by the development of a corresponding sustainable enterprise without geographical boundaries. However, in the protected regions the need and the opportunities for sustainable enterprise take on greater emphasis.
Conditions and challenges for sustainable enterprise
Sustainable enterprise is, therefore, a wager, a challenge, and a new dynamic for the emergence of new entrepreneurs and enterprises, for the shaping of a new market and a new commercial potential which can be linked with localism in a special way. This localism is expressed through nature, society, tradition, innovation, and pilot actions for the protection of the environment.
The problem of sustainable enterprise lies in the fact that it is only just at its beginning, with a short pre-history, and thus does not have those infrastructures which would permit it to shape vital market areas. In other words, sustainable enterprise has a privileged connection with a new consumer style and ethos. This, in order to take shape in an integrated way, needs certain strategies of scale and support policies for it to function immediately and effectively, so that we do not have a phase of failure at the very starting-point of the undertaking.
We have to recognise that sustainable enterprise in the field of competitiveness, on the one hand, has some comparative advantages of quality, but, on the other, lags seriously behind, because it is not linked with mass production and with economies of scale in the production of products, goods, and services. Thus it has a high cost for the production of products and the provision of services.
The political regulation of competitiveness which aims at the support of sustainable enterprise imposes the general commitments which are associated with the regime of competitiveness, but it may in addition be linked, on the one hand, with special tools which set terms for the production and the product produced, and, on the other, with the introduction of such tools of recognition of the products and services which constitute an indirect support for the services provided and the products supplied. At the same time, the support of sustainable enterprise presupposes infrastructures which shape a framework of an economy of scale, as well as public services and institutions which lay down requirements for adaptation to the protection, maintenance, and highlighting of the environment.
Public administration and institutions set terms for the safeguarding of the quality of life, and, more generally, terms for sustainable development.
Consequently, sustainable enterprise requires certain special standards, which, when they are met, reconstitute the whole of the dynamic of a country and a society.
This is the special framework within which we are called upon to seek the ways and means, the methodology, and the tools for the promotion of sustainable enterprise. We shall be helped to some degree in this direction by undertaking an account of the history of sustainable enterprise. History is a tool of experience and a field of learning, even though, as we have said earlier, sustainable enterprise is basically something which will come into its own much more in the future than it has done in the past. Its roots are of short chronological and historical range, but they can provide us with certain useful experiences and approaches.
INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISE
Indicative examples of sustainable enterprise
1. Production and sale of certified products of the protected region, e.g., agricultural products from Natura regions.
2. Production and sale of biological farming and stockbreeding products.
3. Eco-tour guiding activities.
4. Renting and sale of equipment for tourist activities in the protected region.
5. Production and marketing of tourist mementoes.
6. Production and promotion of audio-visual material for the promotion of the region and of special themes.
7. Regulatory services for access to the eco-regions.
8. Local traditional occupational activities.
9. Sustainable production of energy on a small or large scale.
10. Scientific Monitoring System services and studies.
11. Creation and utilisation of infrastructures for the highlighting of protected regions.
The above list is simply indicative and exceptionally short; this is in order to assist, by way of introduction, those interested in forming a prima facie view.
Conventions for the maintenance and protection of nature
Commercialisation of landscape and environmental experience:
Anthropogenic infrastructures no longer constitute the sole significant basis for development. Eco-development draws attention to 'innocence' and the maintenance of bio-diversity as an equally important infrastructure and economic value. At the same time, the economic venture of voluntarism is developing as a post-modern 'commercial' sustainability, drawing attention to metalogistics goods and the free economy. The development of the social economy contributes to the new orientations of the public and the private sector.
The conventions for the maintenance and protection of nature enlarge the sustainable cycle of monetary flows, and are a dynamic field for employment in parallel with the exploitation of the landscape and environmental experience.
Ioannis Zisis, Writer