The Labyrinth of Sustainability

The Labyrinth of Sustainability

Green Business Lessons from Latin American Corporate Leaders

Edited by Daniel C. Esty

Strategies for Sustainable Development Series

Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative

‘The Labyrinth of Sustainability’ explores the growth of corporate sustainability in Latin America, offering actionable insights to business leaders, policymakers, NGOs, academics and journalists through 12 case studies that examine the challenges and opportunities facing companies across the region as they integrate sustainability into their strategy and operations.

Hardback, 224 Pages


January 2019

£70.00, $115.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

Companies can no longer afford to be ‘un’sustainable. While this observation has been widely accepted in the United States and Europe, only recently have Latin American companies and businesses across the developing world started to integrate sustainability principles into their corporate cultures. Recognizing and responding to this emerging trend, ‘The Labyrinth of Sustainability’ offers a collection of carefully developed and tightly framed case studies generated through the Latin American Corporate Sustainability Analysis project, an initiative convened by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy in conjunction with the EGADE Business School in Mexico and INCAE Business school in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The introduction by Daniel Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University and one of the world’s leading corporate sustainability experts, makes a compelling argument for what he calls the “sustainability imperative”—the notion that businesses must work toward sustainability to be successful in today’s marketplace. It distills from the 12 case studies that follow five important sustainability strategy lessons for executives and managers on leadership, vision and execution, partnerships, communications and inspiration.

The 12 case studies focus on the sustainability strategy and initiatives of a company with business operations in Latin America, drawing out key themes and highlighting both successes and challenges. The aim of ‘The Labyrinth of Sustainability’ is to present the problems and prospects for corporate sustainability in a Latin American context across a spectrum of companies that ranges from small businesses to multinational enterprises. With its Latin American focus and lessons for business in a range of industry settings, this volume complements previous analyses and case studies of corporate sustainability in different regional contexts.


“The way that business approaches sustainability is changing rapidly as new opportunities and challenges emerge. The picture has become more complex––it's no longer just about emissions, reputation or jobs. Rather, it's about all these aspects at the same time. The Labyrinth of Sustainability examples show that smart companies have now integrated sustainability deeply into their decision-making process and are proving that they can be more successful by considering not just the financial return, but also their impact on society and the environment.”
—Peter Bakker, President and CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

“This excellent book shows that there are companies in Latin America taking seriously their social duty towards sustainability––with positive business results. This book should also be viewed as a call to action for the many others still lagging behind.”
—Ernesto Zedillo, Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and Former President of Mexico

“Never before has it been so important to change the conversation about how corporate leaders can step up to the challenge of creating a sustainable future. The Labyrinth of Sustainability profiles real success stories in Latin America that show what is possible and why every business leader should pay attention.”
—Jaime Serra Puche, Chairman, SAI Law and Economics, and Former Minister of Trade, Mexico

“The Labyrinth of Sustainability offers a roadmap to corporate best practice in Latin America, highlighting the experience of real companies and illustrating that sustainable practices can be good for business. It is not a theoretical treatise, but a compilation of successful business strategies that demonstrate what is possible in terms of both competitiveness and sustainability.”
—Carlos Pascual, Senior Vice President, Global Energy, IHS Markit, and Former US Ambassador to Mexico

“An enlightening, in-depth analysis of how sustainability has moved from the last page of the annual report to the front and center of corporate strategy in Latin America.”
—Christiana Figueres, Convenor, Mission 2020, and Former Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

“Sustainability has evolved from being about corporate social responsibility to a great investment opportunity for private sector firms in Latina America.”
—Juan Pablo Bonilla, Manager, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector, Inter-American Development Bank

“An inspiring book for Latin American corporations demonstrating the importance of companies going beyond social responsibility to being true corporate citizens who positively impact and influence the communities and the environment in which they live and work.”
—Juan Fernando Posada, President, Latin America Selling & Market Operations, Procter & Gamble

“A pathbreaking book that arms readers with actionable insights based on real-world business experience. Invaluable for corporate practitioners and students alike.”
—P. J. Simmons, Chairman, Corporate Eco Forum

“In The Labyrinth of Sustainability, Daniel Esty has compiled an impressive array of case studies on practical environmental sustainability actions taken by a wide range of companies across sectors and countries in Latin America. These examples serve as a beacon to a more sustainable future for Latin America.”
—Richard Wells, President, The Lexington Group

Author Information

Daniel C. Esty is the Hillhouse Professor at Yale University, USA, and the coauthor of the prizewinning book, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage. He has advised hundreds of companies across the world (including Coca-Cola, DowDuPont, FedEx, Ikea, Microsoft, Unilever and Walmart) on their corporate sustainability strategies and served in top positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.


Strategies for Sustainable Development Series

Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgments; Notes on Contributors; Introduction, Daniel C. Esty; 1. Water Conservation in Scarcity Conditions: Corporate Sustainability at Mexico’s FEMSA Group, Roger Nion Conaway and Francisco Gabriel Rodríguez González; 2. Walmart Mexico: Clean Energy to Reduce Costs and Improve Corporate Image, Mariel Guadalupe Ferro Rivas and Mariana Cesín Sastré; 3. Grupo Vanguardia Revitalizes Plastics Recycling in Honduras, Martha Sofia Cifuentes and Felipe Perez; 4. Nissan Mexicana’s Renewable Power Partnership, Marco Antonio Cristobal and Aidee Figueroa; 5. Tecnosol Follows the Sun, Martha Sofia Cifuentes and Felipe Perez; 6. Rizek Pushes Dominican Republic Cocoa Industry toward Sustainability, Milagros De Camps German; 7. Centrosur Leads the Way to Sustainability in Ecuador, Edwin Garcia; 8. A Resilient World: Bavaria Builds Its Case on Water, Santiago Cortes Villota; 9. Grupo Herdez Takes the Initiative in Mexico’s Food Market, Faruz O. Loutfi Olivares; 10. Chile’s Las Palmas Avocado Orchard: Water Consumption Reduction in Agriculture, Siegfried King; 11. Mabe-Ontex: Increasing Global Competitiveness with Ecofriendly Disposable Products, Margarita Heredia-Soto; 12. Water Use Efficiency Initiatives in Nestlé’s Value Chain and the Implications of the Company’s Business Model, Hellen Quinonez; Notes; Index.


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