What Is Sustainability: Our Chance As A Race To Get It Right!
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Sustainability by definition means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Essentially, creating a way to maintain the quality of life that we’ve become accustomed to while implementing long term protective measures for our finite natural resources. The concept of sustainability is not new, however it is one that has taken on growing importance as issues such as climate change begun to play a larger role in politics, business and everyday life.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, a larger scale recognition of the way that humankind interacts with its natural resources has begun to take place. Previously, during and even before the industrial revolution, recycling had been a major factor in many industries due to the financial return that it brought to companies. As we entered a new millennium, it became clear that the way we live needed to become more sustainable, meaning dramatically slowing or reversing environmental impact.
In 2000, the all 191 member states of the United Nations, along with over 20 other NGOs and NPOs agreed on 8 Millennium Development Goals. These goals, which included ensure environmental sustainability, we all set to be accomplished by 2015. To varying degrees this attempt was a success. Some countries achieved many for the eight goals, while others were not able to complete any by the 2015 deadline.
Not to be deterred, the United Nations ambitiously ratified 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which should be accomplished by 2030. These landmark goals were quickly followed by the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in December of 2015. By joining in these two missions, countries around the globe are sending the message to their citizens that financial performance can not be put ahead of environmental impact.
This has led to a rise in demand and support for sustainable technologies that will help accomplish the goals by the 2030 deadline. Sustainable technology is based around resources that are renewable or in such abundance that they could be classified as near infinite. As these products are designed to replace existing technologies while creating a smaller carbon footprint, many have been lauded by the United Nations due to the positive impact they could have on the lives of billions of people.
Investment in sustainable development that meets the needs of emerging markets while capitalizing on resources that are abundant in these regions has seen marked growth since the ratification of the United Nations’ SDGs. Famously, Al Gore and his investment management firm Generation Investment Management LLP have developed an investment strategy based around the social and environmental impact of products. This form of investment approach has proved to be profitable for Gore as they recorded profits of £248.5m for the 2017-2018 financial year.
Sustainable investing strategies similar to the one employed by Gore’s firm have raised the profile of companies that produce sustainable technologies and have proven one of Allmende’s cornerstone beliefs “Businesses Who Do Good Do Better”. Socially driven businesses have outperformed S&P 500 by more than 10 fold between 1996 - 2011.
Investment decisions, whether it be a consumer buying a product due to their shared values with the company or major investors seeing a market with near unlimited growth potential, have led many companies to rethink their business models. Basing your business strategy around people, planet and profit has become the path to success for many companies.
More and more companies are seeing the benefits that sustainability can bring to their bottom line. This is causing a shift towards aiding in the achievement of the United Nations SDGs as they have become the measuring stick for businesses looking to give back and promote sustainability.
Bolstering these decisions are the additional tax credits and deductions that many countries are offering companies for “Going Green”. The use of renewable resources in the construction of new buildings or investment in solar energy as a power source, not only improve the outward image of the company, but can help the company’s bottom line.
Companies that invest in sustainability now are creating a solid foundation in their future. Not only are they creating an appealing brand in the eyes of potential customers, they are establishing themselves as a desirable employer for future generations.
To learn more about how to take your first steps towards embedding sustainability in your day to day practices reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org