The early 21st century is clearly an age of ‘sustainability’. Increasing numbers of governments across the globe have signalled their intention to foster environmental renewal and set the world on a more sustainable path. Many others have already achieved significant outcomes and are pursuing ambitious plans. Business too has stepped up to the challenge. Through their participation in ecological modernisation (EM), and through the conduit of their own modernisation paradigm of corporate social responsibility (CSR), many in the corporate sector have signalled their willingness to do their part to achieve sustainable development (SD). Civil society, as we have seen, has been a central prompt of sustainability throughout. Yet a paradox of this sustainability age is that as awareness of environmental problems increases, and as environmental activity among governments and business grows, key environmental problems worsen and the world — at least regarding climate change — is heading into dangerous territory (UNEP, 2012a, 2012b; IPCC, 2014). This is despite the fact that all key social sectors have stepped up to addressing the sustainability challenge, albeit to varying degrees. In light of these trends, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that while the idea of sustainability has taken root, its practice is lagging.
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