Sustainability… Science or Common Sense?

Posted on July 9th, 2015

Steve R. Covey in his book “7 habits of Highly Effective People” underscores the importance of starting with the end in mind as far as leadership and personal effectiveness is concerned.

What kind of future do you envisage for yourself? Your family? Your organization? Your industry? Your destination?

Once you have the visual of what you want in the future, you then begin to work backwards and decide on what you need to do now. He argues that when the big issues are sorted out first and the foundation is well laid, then everything else will fall in place.

Sustainability is no different. It is important to identity what is really important and ensure that the goose that lays the golden egg is nurtured and protected to continue laying the golden eggs way into the foreseeable future.

Sustainable development refers to the ability of current generations to meet their own needs and aspirations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability therefore refers to ability to sustain in the long term there by creating sustainable value for individuals, organizations and destinations worldwide.

The concept has 4 key dimensions which include economic sustainability, social sustainability, cultural sustainability and ecological sustainability.

This is sometimes referred to as the 3Ps of sustainability i.e. People, Planet and Profits.

While it took a lot of scientific research to discover that the earth is indeed finite and that economic growth cannot continue indefinitely, the logic behind sustainability is pretty simple.

This is well put by “The Lorax” an American computer animated 3D musical comedy film released in 2012 with lots of lessons for the young and the old alike.

People work on the Environment to produce Profits. One cannot exist for long without the other especially in the tourism industry which depends highly on nature and culture as well as the people to deliver memorable experiences to tourists hence profits which go back into environmental conservation and paying the personnel working in the various sectors of the industry. It is commonsense, yet not so common.

The 3Ps should be considered at the same time because they are interdependent. This interdependence brought about the concept of the Tripple Bottom-line by John Elkin in 2007 whereby sustainability is considered as a strategic choice and not ad hoc CSR activities.

While many individuals and organizations agree that it is good to care about the environmental quality, social justice and cultural sustainability, very few practice it.

Just like leadership, Sustainability calls for individuals, organizations and destinations to undertake self assessment, question their values and  paradigms and to take responsibility to create & safeguard the future they want.

Everybody has a responsibility to ensure progress towards a sustainable future for our children and our children’s children. Government has responsibility being the custodian of the society.

Organizations have a responsibility too due to their size, power and influence. Lastly, individuals too have a responsibility.

Just like Wangari Maathai and the humming bird story, she inspired millions of people around the world by fighting for what she believed in. Sustainability makes perfect sense and just like leadership, it must start from within.

It begins with you.