The 3 Stages of Sustainability

On December 24, 2019, in News, Slideshow-Homepage, by Ashkin Group

The following article was published in GreenBiz

The results of a 10-year research project, examining the journeys some companies take when implementing sustainability initiatives, and more specifically, why they fail, was released toward the end of 2017.

The report, “An Inconvenient Truth: How Organizations Translate Climate Change into Business as Usual,” was prepared by Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg. The authors studied the strategies and challenges taken by five major corporations in Australia as they incorporated sustainability initiatives into their business operations. The corporations were in different industry segments, including banking, manufacturing, media, insurance and energy.

Climate change is, of course, a significant issue around the world. But in some areas, such as Australia, it may be even more pressing. Because of its geographical position near the Antarctic and polar regions, Australia is experiencing more negative impacts of greenhouse gases and climate change than other areas of the world.

Sometimes, all that is missing is information.

This includes such things as hotter temperatures, heat waves, rising sea levels, the death of vegetation both at sea and on land, and extreme droughts. Although this is happening in other countries as well, it is not occurring as much or as fast in countries in central areas of the globe as it is in Australia.

The authors and many others suggest that corporations must play a significant role in addressing climate change, especially now that the United States has vacated that leadership position. Further, many of these organizations are the key contributors of greenhouse gases. Steps that they take reducing those gases and promoting sustainability can show other corporations how this can be accomplished and could have a significant impact on the environment now and into the future.

However, the researchers’ hopes that major corporations will save the day essentially evaporated as a result of their study. In fact, it appears to support something that British entrepreneur Richard Branson has been quoted as saying. Discussing the role of corporations in addressing climate change, he somewhat pessimistically said, “Our only option to stop climate change is for industry to make money from it.”

Programs I have conducted myself with organizations prove that corporations can make money, usually by reducing operating costs, when sustainability initiatives are implemented. So we do know they can “make money from it.” The issue appears, based on this research paper, that many organizations just don’t stick to the program long enough to realize it.

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