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Conscious capitalism: How Pakistan can make CPEC businesses sustainable

The author argues that because of CPEC, Pakistan is moving towards industrialization and prosperity. Yet, this is the right time to push future business investments in a direction which is sustainable for all of its stakeholders.

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The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered in its second phase, paving way for the establishment of new businesses. Both local and foreign firms have shown huge interest in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) of Rashakai, Dhabeji and Faisalabad, as Lt. General (R) Asim Bajwa said in an interview to Global Village Space. conscious capitalism 

There are three reasons why companies have shown such a huge interest: firstly, the close proximity to Gulf & African markets, secondly, the provision of incentives by Pakistan in these zones and lastly, due to Pakistan’s growing middle class consumption driven economy.

CPEC will bring prosperity but at what cost?

New investments will create jobs for the locals and help alleviate poverty through wealth creation. According to Dawn, “CPEC has been a driver of Pakistan’s economic growth by one to two per cent every year besides creating 70,000 jobs in the country.”

But at what cost?

The capitalism which reduces poverty and boosts development brings disadvantages with it. Firstly, the companies produce goods and services in an unsustainable way which degrades environment. Secondly, the capitalist system is designed in a way that exploits workers. In order to prevent such a catastrophe, Pakistan needs to develop rules and regulations averting the exploitation of natural and human resources.

Read More: ‘Balochistan focal point in CPEC initiatives’: CPEC Authority chief Asim Bajwa

What Pakistan can do to make CPEC sustainable?

Pakistan is among top ten victims of climate change. Pakistan’s major cities suffer from air pollution. Air pollution in Karachi is estimated to be at 20 times the World Health Organization (WHO) limit. Environmentalist Wajid Rehman says “In Pakistan, wastewater being released from various industrial sectors is usually released into the surrounding areas damaging human and animal life.”

Moreover, foreign Authors such as Siegfried O. Wolf in his book The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of the Belt and Road Initiative is skeptical about future of workers’ condition in Pakistan. At this point, ‘Conscious Capitalism’ can come to rescue us from upcoming social, economical and environmental disasters.

What is conscious capitalism?

Conscious capitalism entails such business strategies which benefit human beings and the environment. The philosophy is created by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia who believe businesses should operate ethically by serving the interests of all stakeholders involved and not just corporate management and shareholders.

A conscious company works for four elements: it works for social prosperity; it creates value for all stake holders; its leaders care not only for profits but for people and environment; and it creates a culture where employees thrive.

Read More: Indian media portrays CPEC as some war alliance: Asad Umar

Many companies have been successfully functioning under this model. Whole Foods Market consisting of 331 stores in the United States and the U.K., has embodied the ideals of conscious capitalism. The company has been listed as one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to work for” and was in the The Wall Street Journal ranking of the world’s best corporate reputations.

Another conscious company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kip Tindell says “Practicing conscious capitalism enriches your life and the lives of people you do business with. And it’s without a doubt, the most fun, enduring and profitable way to build a sustainable business.”

How can conscious capitalism be ensured in Pakistan?

Adoption of the above principles of conscious capitalism is the responsibility of business enterprises; however, Government of Pakistan can establish a mechanism that make businesses follow such practices through awareness campaigns and development of regulations.

Read More: Op-ed: Impacts of CPEC on Asian region and beyond

Thanks to CPEC that Pakistan is moving towards industrialization and prosperity. Yet, this is the right time to push future business investments in a direction which is sustainable for all of its stakeholders.

The author is a former assistant editor at Global Village Space News Publication. He tweets @fahadtaherani. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.