The planet we live in faces dire consequences if people continue to consume finite resources at the current rate.
Population growth is exerting ever increasing pressure on food production, energy, mineral reserves, biodiversity and water.Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change are already being felt and are set to increase in severity; leading to flooding, drought, wildfires, insect plagues, sea level rises, food shortages and social dislocation.
The principles of Sustainable Development therefore require that we live within the capacity of natural systems to cope, and that we hand on our environmental heritage, whether natural or man-made, to future generations in at least, as healthy a state as we found it.
However, Sustainable development is not just about our impact on our environment and the planet as a whole; pratically every decision we make, from where we source our supplies to who we employ, has the power to influence society as a whole.
In extension, buisnesses and organizations will be unable to operate sustainably if the only thing that matters is protecting the environment or scoiety. For instance, organizations need to secure investment and make money to be able to procure resources and pay staff to make the goods and services that we need to sustain us.
Hence, in order to achieve a common future that is sustainable, a balanced approach to addressing issues relating to people, the planet and profit is vital, especially at the organizational level.
How can this be achieved?
- there should be no disparity between the public and private sectors. Both sectors should be responsible for beneficial social goals.
- Although Public-Private Partnerships are in vogue, more attention should be paid to ‘private-private’, or ‘business-business’ relationships.
- Businesses should take advantage of the vast potentials of maximising resource productivity, especially with respect to energy and water as well as reducing waste.
- Investment in sustainable technologies that will create jobs and support the poor, improve health, education and build more resilient, yet equitable resources is important
- Stakeholder engagement, at the community, governmental and organizational level
It is therefore not enough to understand the impacts of our activities on the environment, economy and society as a whole; but to manage and minimise the impact of events which interrupt our advancement towards a sustainable future.