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THE SUSTAINABILITY TRIPOD

Sustainability is the buzzword of the moment. It’s everywhere. In the media, in schools and universities, in government, in political promises, in short, in society in general. But the total focus is on companies, because they are the ones most responsible for changes in the environment and, consequently, for environmental imbalance.

As a result of their misguided actions, we have floods, landslides, the much-debated global warming, acid rain, various forms of contamination, among many other catastrophes. The challenge of sustainability is precisely to ensure that we have urban growth – after all, nobody wants to go back to the stone age, that’s not the goal – but that this growth is done correctly, without us having to sacrifice natural resources (water, flora, fauna, etc.).

Programs aimed at preserving flora and fauna, environmental education, the construction of ecologically correct buildings and the cleaning up of rivers are examples of actions that go beyond what is required and make a significant contribution to the environment. A company that aims to be sustainable is concerned about social issues, both for the surrounding community and for its employees.

For example, actions that promote school education for both the professional and their family, as well as the community the company covers, environmental education and social responsibility programs, incentives for sport, actions that promote health and well-being, as well as professional training (which also influences safety aspects at work, since an educated professional is less susceptible to errors).

The economy is also a key factor, since it is what drives society, and it is no different in a company, which will bar or free up investment in the two aspects discussed above. Now, if this organization is looking for sustainability, it will invest in new machinery, which initially means no investment, but returns as savings, due to lower electricity consumption, for example.

The same company will also invest in new technologies for treating its waste and in ways of reusing what is left over from its production and even water, as long as it is not for consumption.

The point is that the company must be open to investing in order to get a return later, as well as being open to disclosing the values of its investments, as this conveys transparency and proves that its investments really do go to what they are intended for.

With all that has been said, it can be seen that these aspects are not so simple to achieve, as they involve (sometimes heavy) investments and a change in culture and paradigms, which is very difficult in society, since in many organizations environmental issues are seen as something that does not bring profit, only expenses.

We need to change this thinking first, so that only then can we think about sustainability and, subsequently, sustainable development.