Why Is Sustainability Important

Sustainability is ultimately concerned about our continued survival on this planet and maintaining a balance between these three interconnected aspects crucial to daily life:  nature, community, and business.  

Sustainability is more than just the latest buzzword: it’s a return to basics, to the basic understanding that we are all inter-connected, and that humans are part of this global ecosystem.

The whole idea of being self-supporting as a community and ecosystem and ensuring the survival of future generations is not new — indigenous and native populations have known that all along.  We are all inter-connected, and all dependent on the same resources to survive.  Did you know that indigenous people, who comprise less than 5% of the world’s population, are protecting 80% of global biodiversity? They “manage or hold tenure over 25 percent of the world’s land surface and support about 80 percent of the global biodiversity.” [National Geographic, Nov 16, 2018}

Sustainability is more than just protecting the environment and cleaning up pollution:  we, as humans, are an inherent part of this planet and ecosystem, so protecting nature includes also taking care of other humans – sustainability is just as much about reducing injustice and abuse as it is about getting rid of pollution, and understanding how other groups are impacted by unequal economic expansion of other groups and countries.  Erasing poverty, racism, exploitation of other groups, protecting indigenous tribes, are all current problems that must be dealt with.   

Besides the basic minimums to stay alive (clean air to breathe, clean drinking water, and food to stay healthy), ensuring that economic growth and social development is in balance with the environment and resources is equally important – these three elements must be in balance to ensure our survival on this planet.   

There are indications from all sides that our ability to survive as human species and maintain the same quality of life, is in peril:  environmental damage, air and water pollution, soil destabilization (due to deforestation and fires), decreasing fossil fuel reserves, and even the latest pandemics are signs that we cannot continue in the same way.  Human development depends on the long-term production, use, and management of resources as part of a global community and economy. 

At its core, sustainability is about survival and ability to continue: for human beings, our planet’s ecosystems and diverse species, our communities, and future generations.  Sustainability (broadly defined as the capacity to continue and maintain a process or situation over time) is about meeting the needs of the present and ensuring that future generations will be able to do the same. 

We are all responsible for doing our part to ensure our survival and that of the planet:  our choices and actions all have an impact.  It’s more than just recycling — the products we buy and choose to use have an impact upon how groups and natural resources are treated.   

In business, sustainability’s importance is increasing for all companies and across all industries: 62% of executives consider that a  sustainability strategy is necessary to be competitive today, while only 22% think it’s something for the future.  

Sustainability is focused on creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a company operates in the ecological, social and economic environment, with the assumption that these strategies will foster business longevity.

For consumer businesses, the expectations for corporate responsibility and demand for more transparency are increasing, as buyers and consumers are focusing their purchasing on sustainable goods.

According to a 2019 report from Italian National Chamber of Commerce, 80% of Generation Z and Millennials are actively interested in sustainability.  And The Guardian reports that international buyers will grow their total spending on sustainable products from 23% to 40% in the next five years.  

Professional communications and good intentions will no longer be enough, businesses will also have to ensure that their sustainability practices meet expectations.