Sustainability for Business and Society

On the first day of the class a range of activities and resources on Business, Society and Planet have been provided. I was excited and nervous at the same time as I was new to this place and learning methodology. Thorley, I was aware about course description by Rhonda Bell. We discussed about sustainable development concepts, goals and watching different videos.

By looking these words of Ban Ki-moon, I was a bit clear about the concepts of sustainable development. We need to invent a new model – a model that offers growth and social inclusion – a model that is more respectful of the planet’s finite resources. That is why I have made sustainable development my number one priority.”” (Ban Ki-moon United Nations Secretary-General Rio+20 Newsletter: Making it Happen, (Volume 3, Issue 6, 11 Jun 2012)

Watching the video the story of stuff by Annie Leonard we get very different and diverse views (https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff). In this video she introduced a new school of thinking, when people along the system get united we can reclaim and transform the system into new, a system which doesn’t waste resources or people.

After watching the video, the issues Annie expressed were relevant and meaningful. On contrast to my thinking after watching The story of solutions was very effectively presented (https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-solutions). After all communication also plays a vital role.

After the online task of Global Footprint Network, I was shocked to see that my footprint was too big, 3 planet earths! My consumption of food, my travel and my families approach to the basic thing to good life were too excessive. The Global Footprint Network introduced us to the cost of living on our own planet. No matter how many times, I turn off the gas, electric energy, walk instead of traveling through bus, train, bike and car in short distance but still it will not give a noticeable change, a mass change is required to reduce my footprint.

By this research on my footprint, I get to know that we have to control our expenditure which we do in name of maintaining quality of life. I was surprised myself to see my footprint result .This research shows us the problems which we are facing while building the culture of sustainability as what we are doing is a pure financial decision.

After getting ideas of some of these interesting topics, we divide capital in 5 forms of capital (Goodwin, 2003). In the beginning to identify how we enhance natural capital is a challenge. The topic of bringing natural capital v strategy to simplify aid to protect natural capital was interesting discussion in class and we learned to imagine how a company faces a challenge while trying to be more sustainable.

Despite the benefits obtain from agro business, which is obvious a natural capital also has some demerits to ecology such as use of fertilizer for mass production, use of electric power, use of plastic pipes, and depletion of water. What can be the economic value of these types of business? This made me eager to think which of the 5 forms of capital is comparatively more important? Which one falls on the top and on the bottom in a hierarchy order?

Multiple emphasizes can be considered for sure. Even after being well meaning, this model doesn’t provide enough points to convince the mass to take this as a perfect tool for their companies. We had a wide range of discussion in the class about this topic but we again found the difficulties in how to account the 5 forms of capital?

How sustainability is achieved? Is it only when it’s forced with a rule of penalty or only when they suffer adverse effects? Is a company works for sustainability only when they see a profit or to earn goodwill?

Is it possible to create the data and numbers that prove that being sustainable provides a financial return? What is the reason to achieve sustainability in the first place? Here, another conflicting view is detected.

The seven bottom benefits of sustainable business of Bob Willard available from www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWOVY1Q_otA try to build a business which is introducing sustainable practices. Even after being relevant what I saw was increase in income and decrease in cost’ format, nothing more and new than that. The conclusion was just by applying the best practice a simple business can increase by 51% to 81%.

But I am more curious in finding out more about the investor’s point of view, i.e. the investment logic’.

Going through the Phase model proposed by Dexter Dunphy, (Dunphy, Griffiths and Benn, 2003) and available at www.cloudcitizen.com/acceleratedsustainability/which-way-are-you-heading-on-the-dunphy-sustainabilityscale.html, It is clear that the first 2 phases of his scale rejection’ and non-responsiveness’ were non-survival models’. For third phase let’s take Macquarie Bank. This bank went through third phase implemented and got succeed.

After doing the discussion and exercise using the Dunphy model I get to know that the company I work for is in the efficiency’ phase, which is a better way to put it into perspective.

However, after doing the exercise in class I thought that even the definitions of compliance’ and efficiency’ didn’t provide me with much confidence that these models were overly focused on sustainability and therefore in fact survival models. My personal view was that businesses need to get to the strategic proactively’ stage before they can be deemed to be truly focusing on sustainability.

Little steps lead to the completion of the journey. I am certain that the seeds of sustainability for business, society and the planet start with a single person. It’s never too late to start a change. We are never too late, too fast, too young, too old, too inexperienced, too small, to learn and to create a noticeable difference. One size does not fit for all. We have to change the techniques as per the situations.

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