It’s getting harder to determine what is sustainable and what isn’t. You hear and see the words sustainable and sustainability used in so many contexts these days that it becomes confusing.
Take the example of people who say they have a sustainable business. What does that mean? Does it mean that the business is profitable or a going concern. Or, does the business practice sustainability in the business? It gets confusing doesn’t it?
There are several levels of sustainability:
- If you look at sustainable in a risk management context, you could talk about sustainability of the financial side of a business.
- You may also look at the sustainability of the operations of a company.
- Then there’s another another level which concerns sustainable practices – in other words, reducing impact on the environment.
But even these approaches are limiting.
Sustainability means different things to different people:
- On the individual level, someone who uses water sparingly or wisely at home and in the garden can say that their behaviour is sustainable.
- At a small business level, when the business owner says their business is sustainable it might mean that they are reducing their carbon footprint by transitioning solar power.
- For the private institutional level, sustainability may mean adhering to voluntary sustainability codes, regulations and legislation. The areas that could be covered include ESG (Environmental, Society and Governance).
- On the broader national level, a country talking about sustainability could refer to water-systems, labour practices, energy, economic growth and environmental commitments.You only need to look at the Sustainable Development Goals see the range of areas that sustainability on a country-level covers.
Many definitions of sustainability and sustainable can be found. Perhaps what is meant by sustainability and sustainable are things that reduce or have minimal impact on the environment, optimise human capital and contribute towards greater prosperity (without the downsides of huge carbon emissions, pollution and waste).
If you need assistance in better understanding what sustainability means for your business, let us know and perhaps we can help.