The publication of sustainability strategies does not prove that a corporation is truly embracing the sustainability agenda. But it does mean that a company is putting itself up for judgement against a set of self-proclaimed standards and values. It is giving us the opportunity to critique business and demonstrates that businesses realise that sustainability is the big issue of our times.
An alternative view is that the publication of sustainability strategies is symptomatic of the challenges we face in achieving sustainability because separate strategies = additionality rather than integration. Shouldn’t sustainability be embedded or integrated throughout the business rather than the focus of a separate plan or group of staff? It depends on what the strategy is and how it is put into practice. See Eric Lowitt’s article in The Guardian newspaper’s Sustainable Business blog.
It is now common for businesses and institutions in the service sector to publish sustainability plans. These documents outline the measures and policies that the business/institution has adopted to encourage sustainability. Typically, a sustainability plan will aim to address the three pillars of sustainability (environmental protection, social equity and economic viability). Furthermore, a sustainability plan will consider several social, environmental and economic issues. A sustainability plan might include sustainability goals that relate to water usage, energy efficiency, waste, social equality, paper consumption, and food production and sourcing, for instance.
Please read the attached PDF below for a description of UK retailer Marks and Spencer’s ‘Plan A’, and the Environment Strategy of the University of Nottingham.
Think about: if you are in formal education or work, does your employer, school or college have a sustainability strategy? If it does, are you aware of it and do you know what it says? Is it effective and are the priorities right?
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