Almost every article you read today, the word “sustainable” or “sustainability” is embedded somewhere in the text. Clearly a timely topic, but what does it really mean? Truth is, depends on who’s answering.
How Wall Street Defines “Sustainable”
Wall Street is clearly profit-driven, and their fundamental focus will remain the same. In an expanding definition of “success” beyond dollars, CoreNet states that 81% of publicly-traded companies now publish Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR) information on their websites, including measurable sustainability.
“Sustainable” In a Broader Context
Each company’s CSR gives a narrative of sustainability focused on Triple Bottom Line (aka 3BL or TBL), on broader values and criteria for defining and measuring success. Defined as social, environmental, and economic, 3BL is interchangeable with People, Planet, and Profit.
Influenced by a commitment to sustainable development, in 2007 the United Nations and the International Council for Local Initiatives (ICLEI) jointly ratified 3BL as a new standard for urban and community accounting, which morphed into 3BL becoming the dominant approach to public sector full cost accounting.
What Else Drives Us To Be Sustainable?
Besides the ROI that drives sustainable profit, the disparaged “tree hugging” of the 1960’s has been supplanted with a desire to clean up the mess of environmental pollution and the awareness that we are irrevocably connected, no matter where in the world weather patterns are disrupted or catastrophes strike us and our neighbors.
For those wanting to influence a legacy of saving resources for our children and grandchildren, the effort to be holistically sustainable has been given credence and credibility. As stockholders, we expect integrity-based reporting, and we hold companies accountable for their actions. As private citizens, we become more sensitized by the little ones who teach their elders how to be sustainable, through in-home re-cycling and and tender care for our fragile island home called Planet Earth.
Together, we can become more responsibly sustainable, hold each other accountable, and leave a legacy for the future.
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