Sustainability
Opinion Article
December 14, 2020

What We’re Doing To Continue Living on Our Planet

We often forget that planet Earth,regardless of how we deal, manage, exploit, and capitalize it will always be here, it will never disappear. And what about human life? We are aware that we can call it into question if we don’t protect and preserve the planet, and we will probably have to adapt to the changes that are already taking place at the speed of light.

This reflection arises in the context of a video I watched, with fantastic images of our planet, illustrating it in all its magnificence: oceans, deserts, the sun, forests, rocks, etc., that have existed for thousands of years and will continue to exist for many more. The video ends calling upon us the question of what each of us is doing to preserve it.

Not intending to be pessimistic or preach doom, I believe in human ingenuity, in our ability to cope with the many current challenges that are increasingly interconnected. The challenges humanity is facing will be a source of inspiration to innovate and develop new products, ideas, concepts, technologies, and services in a spirit of mutual aid and partnership that promotes economic growth and the search for solutions.There is plenty of progress, but is it at the expected or ideal speed? Will it be enough?

Daily, we are being challenged to change the way we inhabit our planet. There is currently no one who has not been faced with an appeal to contribute towards its preservation. Said appeal was spearheaded, clearly and with no political agenda, by the United Nations(UN) and materialized through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved just over four years ago.

Are they challenging? Undoubtedly,yes! And whose responsibility is it?

The Governments’? Not only! But their role is extremely important, given that they foster the SDGs’ implementation through policies and regulations that should be independent of political cycles.

The cities’? Likewise! That’s why the UN’s agenda is increasingly localizing the SDGs in cities so that they can become a progressively credible alternative to the Governments’ attempt to place nationalist economic and political interests ahead of this global goal.

Civil society and different civil organizations? Yes, as well! And the response has been a straightforward one,with more or less radicalism, but these entities have always been around to push economic agents, governments, and municipalities.

The universities’? Yes, they are responsible for supporting society’s transformation towards increased sustainability, promoting knowledge, spreading values ​​that can be fostered in students and in their communities, and more responsible attitudes throughout their personal and professional lives. Universities have to assume their role as a sustainability showcase, with local, national, and global impact.

The companies’? Definitely! Given that governments and cities don’t have the financial capacity to reach the total investment needed, companies can direct their strategies and action plans in the medium-long term, creating value and well-being and ensuring their survival. If this is not so, I doubt they will keep their “license to operate”.

I believe that companies can make a difference in achieving the SDGs in 2030. Why? Because:

1. It is the companies that should proactively take the initiative to undertake, in their daily lives, the principles of sustainable development in a medium-term perspective. Otherwise,they risk leaving governments with complete freedom and legitimacy to force the execution and financing of the 2030 Agenda through political decisions

2. The pressure of the financial sector will increase. Thus, financing and valuation criteria are changing and increasingly ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance). Their lack of integration will undoubtedly have a negative impact on their performance, penalizing respective valuation

3. C Competitive pressure leads to a continuing need for brand differentiation. A transparent strategy, with no greenwashing, involving all stakeholders and a committed CEO, who is the spokesperson of the company’s positioning, works a long way towards reaping benefits in the medium to long term

4. The “rules of the game” regarding talent recruitment and retention have changed with companies having to undertake a sense of purpose increasingly. A gradually informed generation, one that it is sensitive to the global challenges, seeks companies, not for their size but their values ​​and mission;

5. The search for solutions from the business sector leads to the promotion of research, development, creativity,innovation, entrepreneurship, and partnerships. These are the ingredients used in numerous products and services that are already part of our daily lives.

This spirit of effective partnerships between companies, governments, civil society organizations, universities, and other stakeholders will allow a unilateral sense of priorities and a clear purpose as to the various dimensions of sustainability.

Companies should develop business models aligned with the SDGs, in which economic growth and wealth creation should be a part of, thus allowing us to overcome the environmental challenges that we are being confronted with and help bring social benefits to the world.

This content was originally published in Medium

Luís Veiga Martins

Luís Veiga Martins

Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Sustainable Impact at Nova SBE

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