The Evolution of Sustainable Business Development Practices

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The one thing which is surprising about this definition is that it doesn’t mention the environment at all. Sustainable development isn’t just about keeping the environment safe and ensuring mankind’s continued survival its about continuing to improve the standard of living in the whole world and making sure the future will be better than the present day. The problem is here now and the world has realised that something has to be done to preserve mankind.

If the world continued to use its resources at the rate is is doing then there will be none left in a hundred years time.One of the biggest problems is making companies go sustainable because they don’t want to lose money or fall behind other companies. In recent times it has become clear that going sustainable can be profitable over the long term. “the perception that sustainability is expensive to implement which experts say can be the case if life-cycle cost and sustainable elements are not factored and designed into projects early on.Yet, with businesses seeking to make sustainability part of their corporate philosophies, developers and owners, looking for effective marketing strategies, are turning to sustainable design to increase sales and pump up rent.

Flynn L, (2001, vol. 42, issue 4, p26) Sustainability takes root It is clear that consumers today are more inclined to buy an environmentally friendly product over one that isn’t. If a company plans ahead they can get an advantage in this newly appearing market. However sustainable development policies have to be more aware of the changing Earth than other policies.

Sustainable development isn’t the same for every country in fact the Brundtland Commission said that every country would have to come up with its own approach.This is why there is different approaches over the world each placing more emphasis on different policies. Sometimes these conflict mainly with developing and developed countries. There has been many commissions and meetings but it is only now that the world is starting to see how it has to act and how acting could help them in the long-term not just environmentally but also financially. One of the first instances of sustainable development was in 1798 when Thomas Malthus realised that the Earth could only hold a certain amount of people with a good standard of life.However nothing was really done at the time.

the first major meeting of people to talk about the problem came in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference. The meeting didn’t actually use the words Sustainable Development but was about the main issues which later became part of Sustainable Development. This meeting was more concerned about pure environmental protection than sustainable development. The important thing about this conference was that it highlighted the main problems being caused by the miss-use of the Earths natural resources. But in reality that is all it did.

The seventies saw an energy crisis which made people sit up more and think of the future. They began to watch how much energy they used, at this time it was completely up to the owner of the company, their was not much profit in worrying about the environment and that is why not a lot got done. In fact the first major wake up call came in a meeting about Sustainability which took place over a ten years later in 1987. The report, “Our Common Future” made by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), was the first time the world took notice of Sustainable Development.

This report, also known as the Brundtland Commission, had been set up in 1983 in order to, “(1) to propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond, and (2) to identify how relationships among people, resources, environment and development could be incorporated into national and international policies. ” Mitchell B, (1997) Resource and Environmental Management. This reports main point was that whilst growth is necessary the nature of growth has to be changed to become more equitable in its impacts on nature.Finally people knew about sustainable development, unfortunately the definition has been widely agreed upon being to vague allowing almost any approach being valid. But the important thing about this meeting was it finally got people to start doing rather than just thinking about sustainability.

Some companies began to operate new policies in order to become sustainable, like recycling and thinking about alternative fuel. They began to use both environmental and economic factors in decision making. The next big meeting which helped sort out what sustainable development was happened in1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio.The major thing that happened at the Rio conference was the way the principal was taken one step further and put into a document. This meeting still didn’t make any laws on the issue but made sure that in any form of environmental acts sustainable development was mentioned.

The meeting didn’t contain any definition of sustainable development but uses the term as if it is already known what it is. Since the last of the big three meetings many companies world-wide have started to become sustainable. This is for many reasons both political and economical.Lots of companies have realised that people are willing to pay more for environmentally sound product and some won’t buy anything but them.

It has also become clear that employees prefer working for companies that endorse sustainability. It increases productivity and decreases sick days. Some governments are even offering incentives to companies, in the form of tax reductions, who are sustainable. However sustainability doesn’t mean the same all over the world in fact in developing and developed worlds they often contradict each other with neither side wanting to back down.This hasn’t been helped by the Brundtland Commission saying that each country would have to develop its own approach. In recent years companies world-wide have begun producing environmental and social reports.

These have been purely voluntary but produced so investors, corporations, governments, workers and stockholders can see how the company is implementing its sustainability policies. Until recently however these reports have been very varied as there has been no framework for these type of reports.In 1997 the Global Reporting Initiative was set up to set a frame work for these reports. Specifically the mission of the GRI is to develop and disseminate globally applicable reporting guidelines for voluntary use by organizations reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products and services. ” Handout From seminar (2003) The Global Reporting Initiative This initiative is world-wide and now has over two thousand companies involved in the report. What this shows is the way sustainability is becoming a part of the business world.

It is looking very clear that soon sustainability will become required if a company wants to run.The developed world is still concerned with profit in most cases sustainability has only been brought about because it has been seem as financially rewarding. Rather than wanting to help the developing world they have been concerned with loosing their competitive edge because of the low wages these countries pay their workers. This on its own has become a cause for concern as the developed world wants to make sure its workers are treated fairly with minimum wage and good conditions. World-wide companies have to take this into consideration if they want to keep a good image. Outsourcing supply should not mean outsourcing moral responsibility,” www.

wbcsd. org This statement comes from Adidas- Salomon who have a special team whose only job is to continually check that working conditions in different parts of the world are up to a high standard. The developed countries want the developing countries to avoid destroying their resources which have global consequences, like the rainforest. The developing countries aren’t too pleased they see sustainable development as meeting the basic human needs of its population.

They feel the reason the developed world is developed is because of the way its used its natural resources. They want to develop their economy first and foremost. The biggest problem the developing world has is that it is playing catch up with the rest of the world which means it can’t afford to take things slowly and is rushing on. This means they have less time for the environment and yet they are using sustainable development because of the broad sense of the term. Over the short number of years that the idea of sustainable development has been around the theory has changed very little but the way it has been put into practice has changed.Thirty years ago very few companies would have cared about how their workers were being treated as long as they were cheap.

Now companies are trying to find out if their workers get the right amount of break and are being treated right. They spend millions trying to see if any of their waste can be reused in the making of their product. Most of the time it can’t be but every time they find one they can remake all the money they have spent. They have realised it can be good business to be sustainable.

The many different aspects of sustainability mean that most companies use it in some form perhaps without realising. Sustainability has evolved from a mere whisper to being used by any good manager. Fossil fuels are not going to last forever and thats a fact therefore a good alternative has to be found which does the job just as well. In the quest for saving the planet it must be remembered that the main driving force behind all this is still ,money hence the reason developing countries want to do what the rest of the world has done already.Unfortunately for them they don’ t have time on the side and could be rushing forward to fast making the rich richer and the poor even poorer.

Being sustainable doesn’t mean your a hippy who hugs trees. Being sustainable now is necessary but ten years ago it was only people with good foresight who got into sustainable development. In another ten years there will undoubtedly be laws forcing companies to be sustainable so it is foolish not to get involved now. The real question is does sustainability mean equality for all now and in the future or is it just delaying the inevitable that mankind is going to become extinct?

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