Sustainability: Definition and Why Is It Important with Practical Recommendations

A sustainable organisation has three objectives namely, environmental performance, social responsibility and corporate performance. Companies that excel in the field of sustainability tackle both conceptual gaps as well as identified issues with a dedicated sustainable performance strategy. They also identify the probability of becoming this wrong. The sustainability strategy then defines what can be done to avoid it. This is also known as the corporate responsibility concept.

Companies now spend a very little amount on the supply chain because of the increased efficiency which they enjoy. They are aware of the risks that are involved in not being sustainable. In addition to that, the concept of sustainable supply chain requires co-ordination from supply chain management, market study, government policies and ethics. This means that companies become a socially responsible and efficient business enterprise. Companies become environmentally aware at the same time as providing customers with a product or service that is reliable, durable and economical. In short, companies that are sustainably run are profitable.

There are several organizations that support business sustainability. Some of these are the CMM and CFSA, the Business Green Group, and the Business Council for Sustainable Business. These organisations ensure that companies practice what they preach by developing a commitment to business sustainability. Companies that are socially responsible also understand the market risks and how to mitigate them by using available resources in an economically efficient manner. Companies work closely with supply chain management, governments and suppliers to develop economic viability.

A commitment to business sustainability requires that companies take into consideration external factors that affect their performance, including energy consumption, water use and waste disposal. Companies also need to take into account the external environmental impact such as global warming. They also need to understand and plan for the effects of their own decisions and activities. At the same time, they should take corrective measures to reduce their environmental impact, if it is found that they have made mistakes that have led to a significant environmental problem. The three principles of sustainable performance are what drives it, what the markets will pay for it and what the stakeholders will be expecting. The three principles of sustainable performance incorporate the three aspects of internal and external environmental impact.

Companies that commit to sustainability understand the need for risk management. They understand that the failure to make an investment in sustainability now will have a detrimental effect on the market opportunity in future years and may also drive away investors. Therefore, they implement a range of policies that incorporate comprehensive risk management, including the adoption of quality standards, the reduction of wastes, the reduction of risks to the environment and the improvement of collaboration among all levels of the organisation. In addition, they implement strategies that contribute to the achievement of long-term environmental goals and objectives, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing water consumption, minimizing electricity consumption and promoting sustainable development.

A commitment to building sustainable development is another element of corporate sustainability. This policy encompasses three key elements, namely energy, transportation and information. These three elements are interrelated and cannot be effectively implemented without the support of the other two. A company that develops sustainable development policies establishes how energy, transportation and information resources will be used to maximise the benefits for the community and for the individual consumers.

The third element of corporate sustainability requires that an organisation identifies, supports and implements plans that will minimize the environmental impact, if any, resulting from its activities. The sustainability required by this policy is what drives the investment in greenhouse gas reductions and other climate change mitigation activities. In the context of climate change adaptation, this policy also requires companies to contribute to adaptation research, monitoring and evaluation. A company’s contribution to adaptation planning represents one of the more tangible results of corporate sustainability.

While there has been considerable progress made in establishing sustainable development, companies need to continue to identify opportunities to make improvements. To help identify and address some of these opportunities, there are many stakeholder relations and engagement strategies that companies can engage in. A sustainability manager should be involved in discussions with all of the stakeholders, including the public and their representatives. Companies need to develop a long term sustainability strategy and ongoing monitoring and evaluation processes.