The term Sustainability is often brought up when discussing future-proofing businesses or marketing to new audiences. Sustainability is brought to mind when discussing ethics, labour, environmental legislation, and waste and manufacturing – just to name a few instances. It seems then, that understanding sustainability as a term and as a concept is crucial.
Sustainability is encompassing. It encompasses all of the practises surrounding and the use of natural, social, and economic resources in such a way that they can renew themselves at an equal pace to their consumption. Sustainable practices ensure that resources won’t become exhausted and they won’t run out. A common and effective definition of sustainability, written by the Brundtland Commission, is: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Therefore, sustainability involves not only environmental consideration but also social responsibility.
Three Pillars of Sustainability
There are three main pillars of sustainability: the environment, the economy, and society.
This means maintaining the ecological integrity of the world around us through responsible use of natural resources, responsible waste management, and climate change action, including reduction or elimination of CO2 emissions.
It also means that business systems need to be established in a way that allows for all people to thrive financially and secure a livelihood for themselves and their families.
And finally, sustainability requires that universal human rights and basic necessities are available to everyone. It means that people from all backgrounds and levels are treated with dignity and respect.
Sustainability in Business
These pillars are deeply affected by current business practices and it is the responsibility of modern organizations to address their sustainability footprints as best as they can so as to preserve this planet and all of its resources for future generations. Creating a sustainable business model is also key in future-proofing your organization – a sustainable business is dramatically less likely to need to upheave and change its structure and practices in order to remain relevant or able to function.
Any organization looking to improve its sustainability needs to first undertake an audit in order to uncover any and all issues or areas for improvement. They need to thoroughly understand what these issues are, what they impact, and how they can be improved upon or solved entirely. It is critical that there is support from senior leadership and a meaningful value proposition that truly encompasses sustainability in order to guide and enforce new sustainability initiatives.
Organizations need to not only create strong value statements – they also need to act meaningfully in order to meet these values; they need strong, attainable goals and responsible action so that they can achieve the sustainability needed in order to future-proof their business and do their part in protecting all of our planet’s resources for future generations.