Sustainability – From Activism to Concrete Action

On January 1st 2020, I made a personal commitment to driving sustainability across product life-cycles and along supply-chains, which is also being reflected in the work Equitus Engineering Limited does. Here is my take on how to drive sustainability at scale.

A simple definition of sustainability is ‘avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.’ The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

These SDGs can also be arranged based on their direct impact on the biosphere, society and economy, with SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals at the centre. This presents the SDGs with a more contextual significance than mere statements. The recently published EU Green Deal is an integral part of the European Commission’s strategy to implement the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals, which makes it even more relevant to understand and align with the UN SDGs.

The UN SDGs Arranged As Per Their Impact on Economy, Society and Biosphere

The need of the hour is to go beyond activism and convert the good intentions to actions that make impact. The question that we need to answer is ‘how do we make the right thing to do, the easiest thing to do?’.

As industry, four things we can do immediately are:

  1. Align business practises with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

It must include specific examples of how everything that the organisation does for its own processes and for its clients to promote participation in the UN SDGs. At Equitus Engineering Limited all our success stories have this alignment built into them.

  • Put sustainability at the core of product and process design

For example, develop designs that consume less material for the same performance. This will drive sustainability and positive climate action by ‘making the right thing to to, the easiest thing to do’.

  • Focus on Developing People and Fostering Collaboration

Change our culture and approach from a task-driven culture to a results-driven culture, i.e. changing the conversation form ‘it is not my job’ to ‘it is our job’.

  • Diversify Diversity

It’s not merely enough to have a diverse group of decision makers in every organisation. It’s essential to ensure that the same diverse group or a subset of this diverse group isn’t making decisions in every organisation.

To summarise my point, I believe to achieve sustainable development and a sustainable future, we need collective participation from the people. Activism alone will not solve any problem. It will require governments, adacemia, industry and the general population to come together and collaborate. It’s about making the right thing to do, the easiest thing to do.

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