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Sustainability is business continuity

Sustainability is business continuity

How many ‘globes’, as measured in your ‘ecological footprint’, does your way of consumption and housekeeping require? A quick check will probably shock you: it is very hard and challenging to get your number below 1. And only then our lifestyle can be labelled ‘sustainable’ or feasible for a long-term period. Is this actually a role and responsibility of consumers, by making other choices. Or for producers? Or for the government by setting better boundaries to our economy? Asking the question is answering it: obviously for all three.

Because there a range of opinions on whether humans contribute to global warming, and what the potential effects on the sea levels will be, one would almost forget that sustainability is a sound business principle. What entrepreneur does not contemplate the sustainability of it’s business? You think about your suppliers and your resources: will they still be available in a couple of years from now, and at what price? You think about your production facilities: will they remain affordable? And you think about your customers: is my product or service going to remain attractive and affordable? So, not a cloud in the sky?

Let’s assume for now that scarce resources like clean air and clean water eventually will be taxed. This seems reasonable since these are public and shared resources, and the right to pollute is part of no bill of rights anywhere! And next to that, minerals and raw materials are certainly not inexhaustible. Energy, except for solar energy, is not inexhaustible and it is reasonable to expect prices to rise. And finally, consumers habits will not remain fixed; a new generation of ‘green’ consumers is taking influential positions.

Every company should therefore have a medium to long-term business sustainability monitor. That looks ahead ten years, beyond the frenzy and the fashion of the day. Is that putting brakes on entrepreneurship? On the contrary! First because it is sound business sense to look ahead. Secondly because it brings about an inspiring awareness: what if we could do more with fewer resources and less energy usage? By better co-operation with suppliers, by combining production centers for other products, by making products reusable, by seeing our waste as a resource for other products, by reducing our waste, or… or… It is possible: doing more with less.

Or to put it in the words of HRH Prince Carlos: “Sustainability is neither left wing, nor right wing. It is not even politics. It is about finding solutions and working on something that you can be proud of. It is handicraft, it is thinking, it is looking ahead, it is challenging, it is innovative. And it is just plain common sense.”