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Learning, Implementing ABC Of Sustainable Development

Our world has come a long way since the dawn of civilization, and by 2030, cities will house 60% of the global population. Since urban residential hubs account for 70% of total GHG emissions, we need to rethink our urban development concepts. Sustainability can no longer be a preference, but an essential aspect of every plan. To effectively address the evolving threat of climate change, all stakeholders must integrate the three core pillars of sustainability, A – Adopt, B – Build, and C – Collaborate.

Contrary to popular belief, sustainability is more than just switching to electric vehicles or planting more trees. To ensure global sustainable development, the emphasis must be on environmental protection, economic viability, and collaboration to achieve greater social equality across regions. It will be impossible to achieve the goal of global sustainability unless all of these pillars are given adequate attention.

A – Adopt

The journey towards sustainable development has to begin with ‘adopting’. Organizations must go beyond making announcements and launching initiatives and instead adopt a transparent, measurable strategic approach. A Gartner survey of CEOs and senior business leaders conducted in 2022 highlights significant shifts in CEO thinking on sustainability. The environmental issues category moved up to 9th place from 14th place just three years ago, and this is the category’s first appearance in the top ten, indicating a significant increase in interest. We must maintain and strengthen this focus on sustainability. 

Further, leaders must not only work on the long-term sustainable development goals of 2050, but also create a roadmap of smaller, short-term goals that will lead to larger achievements in the long run. The first step must be taken in order to eventually achieve zero waste and zero carbon footprint. Larger organizations can prioritize suppliers and vendors who are committed to sustainable environmental practices and reducing carbon emissions. If adopted as a collective SOP, such a practice would invariably cause other suppliers and vendors to follow or become irrelevant in the market. In industries that consume a lot of energy, it is time to gradually increase the renewable energy component instead of fossil fuel-based power generation. 

B – Build

Once the roadmap is established and strategic commitments are made, it is time to build the necessary infrastructure and conduct new technology research and development. Organizations must also ensure employee resilience because employees are the driving force behind mission completion. According to estimates, the world will need to invest more than $90 trillion in sustainable infrastructure by 2030 if we are to meet the projected goals.

In developed countries with massive infrastructure already in place, it is important to replace legacy infrastructure and equipment with modern, cleaner, and more energy-efficient facilities. In developing countries like India, where infrastructure is being built at a rapid pace, the emphasis must be on incorporating next-gen technology and promoting green economic growth. In this regard, improving the mental health of the workforce through all-around work environment improvements and access to the best technology and infrastructure will not only boost productivity but also long-term employee resilience.

C – Collaborate

Collaboration will be critical to achieving the goals. To combat the situation, governments at all levels, industry, academia, and the public must all work together. Innovators must create new tools and technological solutions that are more efficient, productive, and environment friendly. Facilities and infrastructure that can ensure service reliability and resilience will be critical in mitigating the effects of frequently occurring natural calamities. Better roads, bridges, commercial spaces, apartments, and so on will need to be built in urban areas with an emphasis on overall sustainability. This includes economic, financial, social, and institutional integrations.

A siloed approach is not going to yield the desired results. For instance, if renewable energy production is increased by building new hydroelectric projects and solar parks, but the transmission is through outdated electric pylons that cause leakage of energy, the outcome will not be as per projections. Social and environmental issues are not just the responsibility of governments alone or the focus of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but a collective and systematic mission of all stakeholders. 

Riding the three pillars of sustainability to build a better future

Every organisation will need to undertake a variety of initiatives to achieve sustainability and grow in its domain. When a business adopts a transparent approach and builds sustainable practices, it will automatically gain goodwill, attract the best talent, and enjoy greater customer loyalty. The growth achieved by socially conscious organisations and marketplaces is nothing short of spectacular. The key is to collectively bolster the three pillars of sustainability mentioned. We still have time to act, and we must act—Here and Now!

The author is the Chief Sustainability Officer of Tech Mahindra

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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