‘Sustainability’ is often positioned as equivalent to ‘long-lasting’ or ‘enduring’. Although this is understandable, it is incomplete. A sustainable car will not be a car that exists for a long time but the car that is neutral with respect to its energy consumption in addition to its production process and materials. Neutrality implies that its input is balanced by its output.
According to the California Student Sustainability Coalition, Sustainability is the continuous improvement of life quality that protects and balances the ecological, social and economic environments. Simply put, Sustainability is forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainability has transformed overtime both in concept and practice. The modern day sustainability started from activism to philanthropy then to Risk management then to cause marketing and citizenship. With the new millennium came the new vocabulary, i.e. Sustainability.
From the definition, it can be deduced that sustainability has three dimensions- Social, Environment and Economic. But among these three, social sustainability has been the least theoretically developed, least studied and the most overlooked. This ignorance has caused a great deal of confusion due to the refining and defining of the concept of social sustainability by social and political theorists.
The concept of sustainability, particularly in Africa is shaped by four major trends which include Transparency, Global consistency, Public/Private Collaboration and focus on solar energy.
It is important to note that sustainability is an aspiration, a path, not a truly achievable goal (at least not in today’s misbegotten economic system). The journey to sustainability will take you through the path of purpose, meaning-seeking, decision-making, profit-sharing, wealth-sharing and many more.
Sustainability must be accounted for if it must be achieved, thus, bringing in the issue of Integrated Reporting (IR). IR is a report with the sole aim of reflecting the connections between economic, social, environmental, governance and financial factors and their impact on the long term performance of a company.