In this lesson, you’re expected to learn about:
– sustainable development
– corporate sustainability
– the concept of Triple Bottom Line
The modern concept of sustainable development was defined by the 1987 United Nations Brundtland Commission‘s report as “development, which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
As the concept evolved, it has shifted to focus specifically on three pillars: social justice and equity, economic development, and environmental protection for future generations.
It is a fact that corporate growth and profitability usually cannot be improved without directly or indirectly destroying the environment.
As a consequence, many organizations have adopted the “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL) as an accounting framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective, which considers both financial and non-financial terms.
While short-term economic gain could be chased, a failure to account for social and environmental long-term impacts would make those business practices unsustainable.
The concept has evolved and it has also been extended to encompass a fourth pillar, meaning a future-oriented approach(future generations, intergenerational equity etc.).
On the other hand, it positively impacts all of the companies’ stakeholders – i.e., employees, suppliers, community, non-government organizations etc. It strengthens their relationship, which in turn will help the company to meet its business objectives.
• Environment: energy efficiency, limiting production of waste and toxicity, reduction of greenhouse gas emission, restoration of local agriculture etc.
• Innovative products and services: implementation of new creative ideas to change products and services towards less waste production, and development of new solutions that improve recycling.
• Human capital: improvements of workers’ rights, working conditions, eradication of child labor, slavery, human trafficking etc.
• Collaboration: formation of networks with partner companies which facilitate knowledge sharing to accelerate innovation.
Consequently, it adds value to the business, environment, consumers, community, shareholders and employees, thus creating long-term businesses.
The TBL trend in the corporate environment has fuelled the emergence of a new organizational form: the “Certified B Corporation”.
The so called “B Corps” are for-profit companies certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
According to B Lab, today there is a community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries.