“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” ― Walter Cronkite

As expounded in the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 4: Quality Education), for any society to experience any remarkable development, the foundation of such development is hinged on attaining quality education for its citizenry.

In last week’s edition, we showed the direct correlation between the quality of citizens and economic growth/development. In order to attain sustainable development in any nation, it is expedient that proactive measures are made to advocate and promote national readership and for Nigeria, an improvement in education figures; reduction in illiteracy rates, and increase in the number of youth and adults with relevant skills for decent jobs and entrepreneurship are significantly hinged on the intellectual capacities and evolution of the people.

With major initiatives from both private organisations and government institutions alike, especially with increasing access to education at all levels, this fit can be achieved. However, beyond making efforts and giving off impressions of being ‘sustainability conformists’, private and public sector actors willing to witness progress and also enjoy the benefits of sustainable practices need to move beyond ticking the box of contributions to sustainable development, to leading its attainment by articulating the profundity of their knowledge. Then, integrating sustainable practices would not only become seamless and effective but truly distinguish forward-thinking organisations.

This week, we have chosen to review publications that can provide clearer direction for integrating sustainable practises within the operations of both the public and private sectors.

ISO 26000 AND SDGs

Publisher: International Organisation for Standardisation

Year of Publication: 2016

This publication is a 20-page brochure that addresses the urgent need for stakeholders to jointly push towards contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The brochure clearly outlines all the 17 goals and tries to find linkages between the SDGs and the ISOs placing particular emphasis on the ISO 26000 standards.

The publication is a how-to manual for organisations and businesses across various sectors to guide them on the global best practices for integrating ethical and transparent dealings in their regular operations in order to be truly termed sustainable.

It makes it easily relatable for various players in different industries to identify key aspects that need to be addressed in their regular activities, taking into cognisance the unique expectations of different stakeholders, guiding laws and policies as well as international standards and procedures.

The report is a simple and concise guide that shows how everyone can play their part in contributing to sustainable development.

Strategies for Sustainability. A Business Manifesto

Author: Adam Werbach

Publisher: Harvard Business Press

Year of Publication: 2009

Many decision makers and organisations are still not certain about where they stand on the sustainability divide. While some business leaders erroneously believe that sustainability connotes a company that is steadily growing in earnings, others believe that a ‘green’ strategy is a strategy for sustainability. In his book, Adam Werbach breaks down the strategies for sustainability and provides insight to how companies can distinctly formulate their business strategies.

As a primary source of income generation, inclusive and sustainable industrial development options need an enabling environment to thrive (UNSDG 9). Werbach introduces a breakdown of strategies which he refers to as ‘The STaR Plan’ (Society, Technology and Resources). He explains the need for organisations to manage these processes better towards attaining greater levels of sustainability in business. The book provides what he describes as tools of implementation which will properly guide businesses in the right direction and the necessary steps they need to put in place to implement sustainable practices in their operations. As an environmental activist, author and entrepreneur, Adam Werbach juxtaposes environmental realities and how they affect business, advocating for a ‘larger kind of sustainability’ that takes into cognisance social, economic and cultural sustainability as well as how the activities and/or inactivity’s of businesses affect their ecological surroundings.

One of the chapters in the book speaks about using transparency to execute strategy. In it, Werbach advices that when businesses open themselves up for scrutiny, they are more liable to be perceived as compliant with sustainability practices and it gives them more room to put their acts together than when they are not transparent. It speaks about the importance of involving employees and the community in all aspects of the business processes. He stresses that for businesses to survive in this rapidly changing environment, it is extremely critical to put in place strategies for sustainability which can be easily developed and executed.

For sustainability to work in any organisation according to Adam Werbach, companies must realise that on their own, they cannot execute a sustainability strategy but need to align themselves with a network of sustainability partners. The book also suggests that leadership at all levels in an organisation will serve better if they adopt sustainability in their leadership techniques.

Women and Sustainability in Business. A Global Perspective (Women and Sustainable Business)

Author: Pro. Dr. Kiymet Tunca Caliyurt

Publisher: Routledge

Year of Publication: 2017

With increased advocacy for gender equality and women’s empowerment, this book gives fresh insight on the various concerns about women and the role they play in driving sustainability in businesses. The author, Prof. Dr. Kiymet Tunca Caliyurt is the founder of the International Group on Governance, Fraud, Ethics and Social Responsibility (IGonGFE&SR). The book is a body of work that features facts and figures from different regions of the world and lays bare the nuances of women in sustainable business as it relates with governance, performance, social responsibility, entrepreneurship, education, employment, environmental politics, and technology.

A reflection of progress made by different regions in bridging the gender gap across various sectors and business operations, – Western Europe (25%), North America (28%), Eastern Europe (28%), Central Asia (29%), South Asia (34%) and MENA Region (39%) Sub-Saharan Africa (68.0%) – (World Economic Forum, 2017, Global Gender Gap Report); clearly shows that more commitment needs to be made across board to attain the desired goals. Prof. Caliyurt, clearly shows the disparities in the practice of women and sustainability in businesses in underdeveloped, developing and developed economies.

The book provides a roadmap on how governments and policy formulation can help to drive strategies that enhance economic sustainability in relation to women’s inclusion and gender equality in business practices. The strategies that help companies develop their financial and social sustainability initiatives progressively with women at the helm of affairs and taking responsibility in key aspects is what this book tries to advocate.


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