In 2016, Daniel Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy and Director the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, helped organize the first Latin American Corporate Sustainability Workshop held at the Yale School of Management. That gathering of experts was the genesis of a collaboration with colleagues from EGADE Business School in Mexico and INCAE Business School in Costa Rica. The ideas that came from that first meeting have now been collected into a new book edited by Esty called The Labyrinth of Sustainability: Green Business Lessons from Latin American Corporate Leaders.
“We recognized that the governments across Latin America varied considerably in how focused they are on sustainability, and thus how much of their policy framework shapes the thinking of the companies operating there,” Esty said. “The Global Network provided a set of potential partners that we were able to tap into and people were eager to work with us. It provided a framework that we were able to build out.”
Esty said that the network made it possible connect with experts at INCAE and EGADE who had similar research interests and high standards in order to approach a variety of challenges facing companies across borders regarding sustainability. For example, in Costa Rica, sustainability is part of the country’s national identity and built into government policies that impact how businesses can run from the start, he said. Since INCAE has campuses in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Esty and his colleagues were easily able to analyze different approaches to sustainability practices. Nicaragua approaches similar issues very differently, with a “greater focus on economic uplift rather than sustainability,” he said.
“There’s a starting point [in Costa Rica] that’s different there and that companies just have to accept as part of their framework,” he said. “We think that some of the lessons and conclusions drawn from the research across a range of corporate sustainability case studies all over Latin America suggest some commonalities for success.”
EGADE Business School will be hosting an event on February 18 to discuss the research and other lessons from the book.