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Sustainability – when did it become more than a buzz word?

The world that we live in is slowly disappearing in to the nadir of the oblivion. With every acre of rainforest burning, every single ice cap melting and with every milligram of harmful gas emitted in to the atmosphere, we are being our very own architects of destruction.  Sustainability might have been a buzz word in the beginning of the century, but is very much a real and immediate need of today. If we are to have any hope of a decent and civilized life on this planet in the near future which is devoid of gas masks and oxygen cylinders, we have to act and now.

In addition to climate change, which is one of the most common manifestations of unsustainable operations, other issues that need immediate attention are environmental degradation, pollution of water bodies and loss of biodiversity. Countering these aspects needs measures that aim for not only concerted efforts by corporates to ensure environment friendly practices but also intervention at the global level between governments and authorities to aim for holistic developments in terms of enhanced efficiency, reduced loss and better and more prudent strategies and operations, both on a domestic and global scale.

It is with this purpose that the United Nations laid down the Sustainability Development Goals or SDG as they are commonly known as. The most common benchmark used to implement, track and monitor the sustainable development goals are the UN development goals, which are a set of 17 goals laid down by the United Nations aiming to improve the well-being and development of people, businesses and nations in general. However, on a macro level, the clauses laid down help to enhance the sustainability footprint of the nation. That doesn’t mean that businesses, large conglomerates as well as MSMEs, will not be affected by this trend which looks to place increasing levels of emphasis on sustainable business practices.

In addition to this, there has been a sharp increase in the awareness regarding the incorporation of sustainability in to the core operations of various companies. This is primarily due to causes related to profit making, return on investment and access to quality of manpower. It has been observed that a company with well-defined sustainability goals are in a position to achieve 18% higher return on investment than companies that don’t. In addition, people are increasingly inclined to work for companies which have observable operational efficiencies, enhanced waste management, specific methods to tackle problems related to pollution and effluents and a concern for the general welfare of the society thus making it imperative for companies to adopt sustainable business practices in order to increase the bottom line and gain access to quality human resource.

This creates pressure for the corporates from internal sources as well as external investors to find, adopt and implement sustainable strategies not only on paper but also monitor and report them thus making sustainability one of the most important measure of corporate success in current times.