Do you know how to apply Sustainability to an activity?

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The Sustainable Approach allows incorporating economic, environmental, and social criteria in decision making. Do you want to know how?

Let's first remember what Sustainability consists of, to place ourselves.

Sustainability is the ability to maintain an environmental, economic, and social balance that allows continuous improvement of the quality of life and well - being of present generations without compromising future generations.

Sustainability is therefore Stool 3 legs on one settles system.

And this System can be from a product or service, a specific activity, a project, or even the organization itself.

Applying Sustainability implies a change in focus in the way of making corporate and productive decisions, and incorporating tools that allow the joint assessment of economic and environmental social performance.

The Sustainable Approach:

The Sustainable Approach is a method that allows us to approach the study of a system from the 3 Pillars of Sustainability: Economic, Environmental, and Social, in a practical way.

It is based on the continuous improvement methodology, but considering the decision-making both aspects economic and the environmental and social, so individually and jointly.

The objective is to promote a change in the way of interpreting and analyzing the information that surrounds us and to visualize the interdependencies of economic, environmental, and social aspects. AND,

In short, the Sustainable Approach is the practical application of Sustainability.

The change of focus is the key so that the implementation of Sustainability really fulfills its function and that it works for the organization, not the other way around.

It must be taken into account that Sustainability implies a continuous process, in which improvements are made based on the results that are obtained.

In other words, it is not about doing an annual report to forget about it until next year.

That, in the end, only takes time away from managers every year, decreases productivity, can even damage the corporate image, and, most importantly, does not really bring any improvement to the organization.

It is therefore a matter of incorporating a process that allows the organization to be understood and analyzed globally, in order to make decisions that help introduce improvements and adapt to changes in a simpler, more coherent and continuous way, taking into account the aspects economic, environmental and social.

The tools:

The Sustainable Approach provides new criteria to analyze the information.

Therefore, it is essential to obtain a broad knowledge of the system, to analyze its level of sustainability, and thus be able to consider appropriate improvements.

However, getting this information can be difficult at first. This is due to its dispersion since it involves several areas and the lack of knowledge of how this information can help improve sustainability.

To facilitate obtaining this information, organizations have tools that collect the data necessary to prepare these analyzes, including economic, environmental and social aspects.

This increasingly facilitates decision-making taking into account the Sustainable Approach.

But... what and what are these "Tools"?

I consider "Tools" to be the methodologies, studies, technologies, certifications or policies that favor the application of the sustainable approach in the activity of organizations.

Sometimes, they are common tools to which environmental, social or economic aspects are incorporated.

In other cases, they are specific tools for a specific study.

These Tools can be grouped into 2 general categories:

  • Global Tools: These are the tools that provide a more global vision of the system. They can assess several aspects at the same time.

Examples: Business Model Canvas, Business Plan, Balanced Scorecard, Life Cycle Analysis, Integrated Management System...

  • Specific Tools: These are the tools that provide a specific vision of each of the aspects of Sustainability. These tools are applied to a specific aspect, economic, environmental or social.

Examples: Annual Balance, various environmental studies, Corporate Social Responsibility reports, management systems...

These tools do not have to involve, in principle, large investments or the latest technologies.

The objective is to be able to monitor the activity from different points of view and obtain the most relevant information. The information handled by an SME of 15 employees is not the same as one of 100, nor the industrial sector with respect to the services sector.

Depending on the objectives and scope of the analyzes, and the context of the organization, the tools can be adapted to different formats.

For example, environmental footprint studies may require from spreadsheets, databases to the use of specialized software.

Practical advice:

Let us remember that Sustainability is a process in which progress is made step by step while obtaining a greater and better knowledge of the system.

In this case, the most important thing is to start and be constant.

You can start from a simple study and then go deeper into it.

Luckily, today, Industry 4.0 and advances in data processing and management facilitate the automation of these tasks.

In addition, access to these types of tools is becoming easier.

However, each organization must assess what tools it can or should implement.

Sometimes a simple and easy-to-implement tool can be more useful for more basic studies than more complicated tools that overwhelm the organization and, in the end, are not fully used.

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