What is Sustainability

Before addressing the importance of Sustainability, it is important to first consider what the term means. The word Sustainability has been used more and more frequently over the past few years, but unfortunately it is often used in different contexts and carries different meanings. A clear definition of Sustainability has not yet been established, and thus it means different things to different organizations.

In an attempt to be prudent, simple yet comprehensive, for our purposes and from Schema’s perspective, Sustainability means endurance; endurance of the environment, society and economics.

The most widely quoted definition of Sustainability and sustainable development, is that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Terms that are often used interchangeably with Sustainability include sustainable development, sustainable prosperity and sustainable genuine progress; these terms are, for the most part, defined by the above.

It is important to note that the term Sustainability goes beyond the triple bottom line.

The triple bottom line emphasizes the value of mutually considering the areas of economic, social and environment in the decision making process to create added value as follows:

On the other hand, the concept of Sustainability integrates economy, society and environment three interde¬pendent components. The prime component is the environ¬ment, because all economic and social progress ultimately depends on our physical existence. The second component represents society, or human capital. Economy is the last component because it is governed by the existence of society and environment. This can be depicted as follows:

With a clear perspective of what Sustainability means, it is key to address why Sustainability is important.

Organizations that are focused on Sustainability implement strategies that support their endurance. In addition, Sustainability practices, awareness and culture benefit organizations by ensuring continuous improvement of the business as a result of a constant awareness and adaptation to changes in environment, society and the economy. Furthermore, it a Sustainability focus enables organizations to make better decisions as they are based on holistic and long-term considerations – making the process mitigating if not eliminating a lot of risk.