Sustainability in the Age of Platforms
EMSD Challenge Fund - Final Report, 2019
90 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2019
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: Suggested Citation