SUSTAINABILITY

Quick facts

  • The United Nations promoted the concept “sustainable development” at the end of the 80s. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
  • The concept was furthere developed through UN-conferences: Stockholm 1972 on international environmental responsibilities, the Rio-conference 1992 with Agenda 21, the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, Rio 2012 paving the road for Agenda 2030 and 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), Stockholm 2022.
  • Sustainability in short: a future state of the global system when people live in harmony with nature and each other, the goal of sustainable development.
  • Sustainable development in short: environmental, social and economic development that contributes to sustainability, based on today┬┤s knowledge.
  • The United Nations made the goal more concrete through its Agenda 2030 which was adopted in 2015, defining 17 global goals with 169 targets for sustainable development 2015-2030. Countries that have signed Agenda 2030 are expected to express their contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals through legislation and other initiatives.
  • All of the the 17 global goals for sustainable development are applicable at the same time and do affect each other. A process or product that contributes to sustainable environmental development (e.g. production of solar cells) can at the same time contribute to unsustainable social development (e.g. child labor) or unsustainable economic development (e.g. corruption in the supply chain).
  • It is important not to reduce sustainability to only embrace parts that are easier to communicate, for example environment, climate, safety, quality. Sustainability work in a company or an organization relates both to process and product, with a focus on the organization’s contribution to sustainable environmental, social and economic development. There are so far, most likely, no fully sustainable products, services or organizations but there are those that contribute more to sustainable development.
  • It is sometimes difficult to define what is sustainable, and easier to define what is un-sustainable: child labor, forced labor, bad occupational health and safety, discrimination, bribes, corruption, use of natural resources beyond re-growth or recycling, climate change, pollution, bad labor conditions, etcetera.
  • There are already many methods and tools available that can help organizations contribute more to sustainable development. It is important to select the right tool and standard based on how these were developed.

Many tools

Some use terms such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Environment Social Governance (ESG), Social responsibility, Societal reponsibility. All good tools have the same aim: to make it easier to contribute to sustainable environmental, social and economic development.

The concept “triple bottom line” has at times been used since 1994 to illustrate that companies (and organizations) must generate value related not only for “economic viability”, but also “environmental sustainability” and “social responsbility”. Sometimes triple bottom line is summarized as People, Planet, Profit. Concepts have evolved since the 90s: sustainability work, or social responsibility/CSR, has come to mean one entity’s contribution to sustainable environmental, social and economic development.

There are common denominators between most of the methods, e.g. stakeholder engagement, continual improvements, Human Rights, environment, climate change, anti-corruption, labor conditions, the three dimensions environment/social/economy,

One important part of most methods is the analysis of how the organization impacts the different areas of sustainable development. Such an analysis is called materiality analysis when focusing on what is material to relevant stakeholders (e.g. sustainability report). ISO 26000 focuses on identifying the significant sustainability aspects for control/procedures and improvement/objectives.

SustCoReport focuses on the core, the significant sustainability aspects. It is then up to the user to decide on what steps are prioritized for success.