Interplay between ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and ‘Sustainable Development’

The term sustainable development has been defined several times by several abut the landmark definition was given in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development in the Brundtland Commission report titled ‘Our Common Future’ published by Oxford University Press, 1987. The Brundtland Report is widely regarded as a landmark in environmental development. It states that sustainable development is “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs[1].” 

Thus, CSR is one of the primary means of achieving the goal of sustainable development for all nations today. The Brundtland report highlighted three key components of sustainable development, environment and economy and society. A number of important sustainable development proposals have also been highlighted and SD and CSR initiatives can be linked as follows:

Environment: SD states that the way we are developing and using technologies should progressively be conserved and improved by our resource base. If companies adopt CSR policies now

For example, the introduction of e-rick was linked with Vodafone. These Eco-Activate hybrid vehicles provide an alternative transport in the national capital free of pollution. This helps to prevent environmental pollution and so the relationship between CSR and SD can be said to be positive.

At all its retail shops, Vodafone has introduced the first smartphone recycling project, where all discarded posterns, flyers where brochures were recycled. We also launched eco-friendly SIM packs, including biodegradable rubber chips, made of 100 percent recyclable content.

Social equity: SD says that developed countries need to provide access to education, housing, electricity, water and sanitation for their fundamental needs. When this is to be achieved in a fair manner, a sufficient population density would be certainly expected. So, the promotion of gender equality, healthy labor practices etc. can be one of the CSR initiatives that companies can undertake.

For E.g., Tata Steel: As part of its Economic Empowerment CSR initiative Three backward tribal blocs in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh have been developed into a program to empower economically through improvised agriculture. The budget is projected at Rs 100 crore, with 40,000 tribals residing in over 400 villages in these three countries anticipated to benefit from the scheme States.

Whether CSR correlates with the dimensions of Sustainable Development as defined by the Brundtland Report or the model of triple bottom line? [2]

Brundtland’s ethical principle is perceived to be the most prevalent SD interpretation. The benefit of the Brundtland concept is its systematic and systemic perspective, whereas some perceive sustainability either as an individual framework or as a specific feature. Environmental corporate responsibility is a very valuable instrument for environmental growth when the measures are enforced successfully.

Whether CSR and SD be used synonymously?

The CSR and sustainable development are also frequently suspected of being inconsistencies in terms: one of the premises is that companies are failure to acknowledge moral accountability and the other of being inconsistent with the economic (and, in some instances, spiritual) growth of the earth and its wealth and dignity. These words are sometimes used interchangeably and loosely. Therefore, their meaning and interaction emerges.

Sustainable SRD is basically a term that is disputed, because its importance is still part of the conversation on its execution. They are important, internally complex and unambiguous. The two ‘assessing variables’ are CSR and environmental growth as they are respected and not merely abstract principles. Therefore, none is perceived to be “socially reckless” or “unsustainable.” An agency or action is deemed to be called environmentally conscious or to show environmental growth as a positive thing. As a consequence, organisations or events could only be represented for image-making purposes in these words. These are ‘internally nuanced’ definitions. In CSR, a variety of actors have a struggle to reconcile various cultural, legal, ethical and social roles, with specific beliefs and desires in relation to their relationships. However, since CSR has specific financial, economic and ethical consequences, it is impossible for organizations to generalize. Sustainable development does not necessarily entail aligning two values that appear to be incompatible, but it goes beyond human actors in doubt. Sustainable development Through nature, the sustainability strategy discusses the implications of environmental vulnerability and the global social effect of local action. The sustainable development plans.[3]

CSR and guidelines or ideals of sustainable growth are fairly ‘free,’ and cannot be easily codified. CSR is not only a problem for individual businesses to consider. Governments, industrial organizations, company consultants, nongovernmental organisations, owners, workers and customers have all demonstrated a desire to receive assistance, inspiration or vital voice in the definition. Moreover, the concept of sustainable growth has no common authority. There are disputes among scientists surrounding its meaning (and what constitutes risks to it) let alone when states, non-governmental organisations and corporations join.

Both CSR and sustainable development are highly contextual in terms of their temporal and social environment. We are also exposed to focal loops through which incidents or tests immediately provide a reaction and change, new mothers are ‘as normal’ and their production is decreased once more before the process re-starts with a fresh collection of issues. CSR has grown as a dimension of modern business and management itself as the basic philanthropy of corporate insiders. The regional financial, cultural, government and environmental structures under which they are located are often distinguished from the CSR and sustainable development agendas. In one nation, the obligation for an activity every be treated as a duty of the Government, the society or the entity. When fundamental disagreements emerge over the concepts of CSR and sustainable development, it can be inferred that they can be unfounded and discarded.

The problem is that they deal with extremely important issues, such as other, mainly controversial terms, like the justice system. These concepts cannot be ignored as companies increasingly impact on people’s and societies’ lives in social, environmental and ethical terms and as development often absorbs change and undermines the human and environmental resources on which future development depends. In addition, provided that companies are sometimes the agents by which creation is carried out, the relationships between concepts are as essential as the partnership among the other mostly debated pairs of concepts such as independence and equality. As a result, businesses become more and more delegated or accountable for such things as organic production and use, climate change and resources, biodiversity and environmental sustainability and healthy societies. Few other scientists do not claim that SD and CSR are interchangeable with them, but describe CSR as a 3D model (generally called SD), and describe CSR as a lucrative word that meets the needs of the stakeholders through social and environment engagement. Dawkins and Lewis (2003)[4] describe corporate responsibility as a synonym for CSR, which calls for workplace support, community engagement, ethics and environment responsibility. They claim that each organization has immense difficulty in CSR and requires to operate on its own in the CSR market. Jenkins (2004)[5] recognizes CSR as a framework that allows organizations to ‘orient their behaviors and policies around an appropriate and common definition in and through customers, whether they be owners, workers or societies.” It has a range of obligations, and is more than just the organization’s legal and economic responsibility. To summarize, while these two terms have common meanings, they cannot be used by each one as synonyms other.

They should be used in their original semantic sense, to avoid ambiguity and confusion which may ultimately result in altering the meaning of these two concepts.

SD and CSR are therefore nearly similar, but a minor yet important difference occurs. In order to meet the needs of future generations, sustainability growth is linked to the organization concept which is structured to rely on “demand creation, climate protection, environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.” In comparison, CSR has to do with individuals and organizations’ partnership facets and addresses things like “transparency, stakeholder interaction, sustainable growth reporting.

[1] ‘Brundtland Commission’ (, 2021) <> accessed 10 May 2021..

[2] Kurian P, ‘Sustainable Development Goals And Corporate Social Responsibility Convergence – Impakter’ (Impakter, 2018) <> accessed 10 May 2021.

[3] Pachauri R, ‘CSR And Sustainable Development’ (The Economic Times, 2009) <> accessed 10 May 2021.

[4] Jenny Lawkins, Stewart Lewis “CSR in stakeholders expectations and their implication for Company strategy” (2003) 44(2) Journal of Business Ethics <> accessed 10 May 2021.

[5] Heledd Jenkins “A critique of conventional CSR Theory: A SME Perspective” (2004) 29(4) Journal of General Management <> accessed 10 May 2021.


Disclaimer:- The entire contents of this document have been prepared on the basis of relevant provisions and rules and as per the information existing at the time of the preparation. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, I assume no responsibility therefore. Users of this information are expected to refer to the relevant existing provisions of applicable Laws. The user of the information agrees that the information is not a professional advice and is subject to change without notice. I assume no responsibility for the consequences of use of such information.

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Location: Shubham Phophalia, Gujarat, India
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I am Shubham from Batch 2016-21 of GNLU. I am in my final year of 5 years integrated BA LLB course from GNLU, Gandhinagar, and I have completed Company Secretary Course meanwhile with 3rd Rank in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in CS Professional. I am a keen reader and enthusiastic listener of Corporate laws an View Full Profile

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