Sustainability in the Age of Platforms

EMSD Challenge Fund - Final Report, 2019

90 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2021

See all articles by Antonella Zarra

Antonella Zarra

University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Bologna University, Department of Economics

Felice Simonelli

CEPS

Karolien Lenaerts

CEPS

Man Luo

Zhejiang University - School of Management

Sara Baiocco

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ben Shenglin

Zhejiang University

Wenwei Li

Zhejiang University

William Echikson

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Zachary Kilhoffer

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Date Written: May 1, 2019

Abstract

Platforms raise profound questions about sustainability. Insufficient research exists on their economic, social and environmental impacts, and on ways to improve their sustainability. The platform economy is both a driver of sustainable – and unsustainable - production and consumption. This study contributes to bridging this gap. It combines desk research with in-depth case studies to gain more insight into the impact of the platform economy on sustainability and to identify good practices. Since platforms come in different sizes and shapes and it is crucial to focus on a few comparable business models, the study analyses the sustainability of digital marketplaces operating on a global scale. Marketplaces have caused the ‘death of distance’. With a few clicks of the keyboard, merchants are now able to sell products almost anywhere in the world, and consumers have gained unprecedented choice and convenience. The platform revolution has opened up myriad new opportunities as well as new challenges in meeting global sustainability goals.

As the platform economy grows, so does its impact on our economy, society and the environment. Online marketplaces are founded on the belief that everybody should be part of the global market. The principles of inclusiveness, growth and prosperity are embedded in marketplace business models. Yet, it remains unclear whether, on balance, these platforms are leading towards a sustainable world.

Keywords: CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, Fair Trade, Sustainability, Platforms, E-Commerce, Climate Change, Sustainable Development Goals, Marketplaces, Sustainability Reporting, Digital Economy

JEL Classification: O00,O25, O3, O4,O52,O57 ,O53 ,M48 ,P45, M14

Suggested Citation

Zarra, Antonella and Simonelli, Felice and Lenaerts, Karolien and Luo, Man and Baiocco, Sara and Shenglin, Ben and Li, Wenwei and Echikson, William and Kilhoffer, Zachary, Sustainability in the Age of Platforms (May 1, 2019). EMSD Challenge Fund - Final Report, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3610672

Antonella Zarra (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Hamburg
Germany

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO Box 1738
Rotterdam
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.eur.nl/en/esl/research/areas/institutes/law-and-economics/staff

Bologna University, Department of Economics ( email )

Bologna
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/antonella.zarra2/en

Felice Simonelli

CEPS ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ceps.eu

Karolien Lenaerts

CEPS ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Man Luo

Zhejiang University - School of Management ( email )

Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province 310058
China

Sara Baiocco

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ben Shenglin

Zhejiang University ( email )

38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058
China

Wenwei Li

Zhejiang University ( email )

38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058
China

William Echikson

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Zachary Kilhoffer

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

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