According to some, sustainability will become the big business trend during the 2010's (HBR 2009). A sustainable company would be one that is successful not only from an economic perspective but also from a social and environmental perspective. Performance is measured by a triple bottom line, instead of solely a single bottom line (Elkington 1994). Whether or not it is true that sustainability will be the new business trend, sustainability is increasingly becoming a competing discourse to the dominant discourse of neo-liberalism and globalization. While some see the relationship between business and sustainability as conflictual (Hornborg 1997), many argue that business and sustainability can go hand in hand (Ellis 2010).
During the last couple of years, sustainability has been explicitly linked to religions such as Islam (Jaufeerally forthcoming) and Buddhism (Sivaraksa 2009). In this paper, I will discuss the "Buddhist turn" of sustainability and discuss how Buddhism might contribute to the understanding of sustainability.
In the paper, I will introduce and discuss the current discourses on sustainability. Then I will survey the existing literature that greets a new era of Buddhist economics, since its foundation by Ernst Friedrich Schumacher in the 1970's. Sivaraksa (2009) and indeed many others have continued in the tradition of Schumacher, explicitly linking Buddhism and sustainable business practices. I will discuss what we can learn from this tradition and its shortcomings.