Business sustainability: The Environmental Imperative

0

By Bernard BEMPONG  

In doing business and creating long-term value for stakeholders, a company must be concerned about its immediate or remote environment impacts on its operations.

Environmental concerns relate to climate change, resource depletion and pollution (both air and water). Climate scientists have predicted that abrupt climate change will cause more extreme weather events, like hurricanes, in the future.

To protect the well-being of the present and future generations, business sustainability provides a launching pad on which companies can adopt strategic responsibilities to ensure that their activities either directly or indirectly protect the environment or natural resources. It is imperative for stakeholders to undertake measures that can reduce the physical and transition risks of the environment before it is too late.

That said, the general goal of a sustainability business strategy is to integrate environmental factors into a company’s investment decisions. Environmental sustainability in business can take many forms. These include:

  • Making use of renewable energy and its resources to power production facilities and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Improving energy management efficiency by using alternative power sources and carbon accounting.
  • Going paperless to reduce unnecessary waste
  • Creating a green space or green area to help regulate air quality and temperature.
  • Deploying infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, conserves water resources and eliminates waste.
  • Operating dynamic and efficient supply chains to encourage reuse, design out waste, promote sustainable consumption and protect natural resources.
  • Enabling sustainable development by assessing risks and improving resiliency while adhering to external regulations and development goals.

Sustainability Strategies

A company must have a plan in place to guide their environmental sustainability goals. The plan serves as a standard in assessing if a company is committed to their key objectives or values. Thus, an environmental sustainability plan must aim at improving the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance with the feedback or reports from the ESG analyses.

Indeed, a sustainable strategy may vary depending on the goals, key values of a company as well as the size and industry in which the company operates. These are some steps and ideas on how a company can maintain environmental sustainability in its operations:

Learning about Sustainability

Environmental sustainability in business strategy must be anchored on research as the foundation. It is a fact that there is no specific strategy that fits all businesses. Hence, a deliberate research which serves a guiding post for sustainability efforts is very important. Investing in research and development is necessary for a company to identify new technologies and practices that can significantly help it to achieve its environmental sustainability agenda. By continuously investing in research, businesses can find new or innovative ways to overcome obstacles and achieve greater sustainability.

Make Sustainability a Core Principle

Businesses leaders must be aware of the core principles of business sustainability to enable them to position themselves and align their values, products or services with those underlying principles since they are the building blocks and pillars for their long-term survival. Knowledge of the core principles make it easier to set clear goals and targets.

These can be short-term or long-term objectives that outline what the company intends to achieve with regard to reducing the impacts of climate change or promoting other sustainability practices. These goals may also include reducing energy consumption, implementing waste management or utilizing solar panels for production facilities. For instance, a company may set a target to go paperless to eliminate unnecessary waste by 90% within the next four years. By having clear goals in place, a company can better focus its efforts to achieve environmental sustainability.

In a related development, the city of Copenhagen in Denmark, demonstrated how setting sustainability goals and implementing effective strategies can lead to remarkable achievements in environmental sustainability.

The city set a clear goal to become carbon neutral by 2025 and has made significant progress towards achieving this target. Through a deliberate investment in renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings and sustainable transportation systems, Copenhagen has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by 42% since 2005.

This case study highlights the importance of setting ambitious goals, investing in sustainable infrastructure and fostering collaboration between different sectors.

The understanding is that every business or organization which operates in an industry. It has its set of goals or values, offers certain range of products or services to the public and must, therefore, be mindful of the environmental consequences of its decisions since same influence its long-term values. To integrate those principles, businesses can re-shape their existing policies, processes and attitudes through training of their employees on the sustainability principles.

Evaluate Areas of Improvement

A part of the strategy should allow for evaluation of the environmental performance of the business operations. This involves comparing the environmental impacts of the business operations with the relevant standards, benchmarks, goals and identifying the gaps and opportunities for improvement.

A performance benchmark will invariably help to identify what other parts of the business can be improved and which operations can be executed more efficiently. Employee input is also valuable since they play a critical role in implementing the strategies.  It is worth analyzing the inputs and outputs of the business processes in the areas of energy, water, materials, waste, emissions and how they affect the environment.

Foster Collaboration and Partnerships

Environmental sustainability requires a collaborative effort and partnerships with various stakeholders, including governments, businesses, communities as well as consumers to achieve the desired goals. These key stakeholders must work together by pooling their resources, share knowledge and then leverage on those expertise to overcome obstacles, resulting from which they can achieve greater environmental sustainability. For instance, the formation of alliances between businesses and environmental friendly organizations can lead to innovative solutions or initiatives that address irresponsible mining and its devastating impact on the environment.

Publicity

Public education and raising awareness about environmental sustainability are essential for achieving the targets or goals. The crux of the matter is that when individuals and communities are aware of the impact of their actions on the environment, they are more likely to adopt sustainable practices and support initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

For instance, campaigns that deliberately promote recycling and energy conservation can help to educate the public about the importance of environmental sustainability and encourage them to protect the environment. Therefore, instituting a publicity or public engagement programs will also to solicit and integrate communities’ concerns with industries’ specific sustainability standards or benchmarks.

Conclusion

Environmental sustainability has become a critical factor in shaping the success and viability of businesses across various economic sectors. In that regard, integrating sustainable practices into their operations has become imperative to deal with the overwhelming challenges posed by climate change, resource depletions and growing consumer awareness.

Companies across the board, therefore, need to adopt sustainable business practices and embrace new business models to win customers, increase brand loyalty and uncover new opportunities to lower costs with the ultimate aim of creating value for all stakeholders.

BERNARD BEMPONG  

Bernard is a Chartered Accountant with over 14 years of professional and industry experience in Financial Services Sector and Management Consultancy. He is the Managing Partner of J.S Morlu (Ghana) an international consulting firm providing Accounting, Tax, Auditing, IT Solutions and Business Advisory Services to both private businesses and government.

Our Office is located at Lagos Avenue, East Legon, Accra.

Contact: +233 302 528 977

                +233 244 566 092

 Website: www.jsmorlu.com.gh

 

Leave a Reply