The three stakeholders model, and the role of the government.

In the transition towards sustainability, each of the stakeholders have to play its own role:
– the consumers/citizens have to shift their expenditures towards a lower Eco-cost / Value Ratio, i.e they should buy ‘green’ products and services
– the companies have to create product-service combinations with a lower Eco-costs / Value Ratio, i.e. they should offer ‘green’ solutions to the market
– the governments have to create regulations and new systems for tax, subsidies and Tradable Emission Rights, i.e. they should create a business environment which gives ‘green’ solutions a fair chance in competition with the current products and services (“level the playing ground”).

It is obvious that, when one of the stakeholders fails to play the right role, the transition towards sustainability will not happen.

What triggers each of the stakeholders of the system to go in the right direction? Who triggers the transition process?

Designers tend to believe in ‘technology push’: when the green products are on the market, they will be

bought in the long run, but the reality seems different.
The general business opinion is inclined to ‘market pull’: the consumers have to trigger off the demand. But why should they do so? In reality they tend to go for the best price/value proposition  in the market (‘personal benefit’) instead of the proposition with the lowest environmental burden (‘environmental benefit’), since the latter is normally slightly more expensive.
Apparently, the government should do something as well: level the playing ground in the market, i.e. create a system in which the ‘green’ solutions have a fair chance.

The key to the solution of the problem is to accept that the consumer (95-98%) is an individualist at the moment of shopping, reacting instantly and in the short term to offerings on the market. Sustainability, however, is a long term issue for the citizen. We have to realize that each individual is consumer as well as citizen.
The interactions of the consumer/citizen with companies and governments are
depicted in the three stakeholders model of Fig 1.5.



Figure 1.5. The interaction of the 3 stakeholders and the road towards sustainability