What does sustainability even mean in times of digital change? The fact, there are many definitions, numerous discussions, and the world probably agrees that we will not come to a consensus on this topic. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were published back in 2015 and offer 17 global goals for sustainable development as a guideline. At least since the Fridays for Future, initiated by Greta Thunberg, everyone has thought about the topic in one way or another, but many people are missing a concrete starting point or even a concrete plan for corporate sustainability.
Each and every one is responsible for sustainability. This applies to small, medium-sized and large companies, scientific and social institutions, politics, schools, further education institutions and every individual. All bear a major responsibility for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and for the quality of life of future generations. Sustainability consists of three components: the economic, the ecological and the social. These pillars cannot be considered separately because they are interrelated in a complex way.
Implementing sustainability is a tool for collectively addressing social and environmental challenges and improving economic status. A deficit of sustainability leads to geopolitical risks and conflicts, political instability, financial crises and, finally, ecological risks, such as flooding due to the well-known climate change. As a result, these risks lead to increased taxes, stricter regulations or supply chain restrictions.
A deficit in sustainable action can also lead to damage to the company’s image. The term “green washing” has become popular as some companies have boasted of being particularly environmentally friendly and sustainably responsible. Apart from clever PR strategies, there was unfortunately no foundation for the green image. Yet sustainable behavior is not difficult at all and even leads to many benefits. Sustainability is much more than social or societal pressure; it is a strategy that, at its core, leads to greater efficiency, productivity and quality.
Economical use of resources reduces costs. The economic advantages are therefore obvious. However, resources are not only energy or fossil fuels; in the economy, they also include intangible and tangible goods or people. Eine bessere Planung der Ressourcen führt beispielsweise zu weniger Transporten oder optimierten Produktionszeiten (weniger CO2) und zahlt damit auf die ökologischen Aspekte ein. If a company focuses on sustainable workplaces (e.g. ergonomics, work-life balance), the human resource is conserved and the social aspect of sustainability is fulfilled.
A good partner on the road to a sustainable future is digitization. Paper-based processes are becoming obsolete due to new technologies (Blockchain, IoT) . Forecasting with the help of artificial intelligence Künstlicher Intelligenz (Machine Learning) simplifies sustainable planning and, in the spirit of the sharing economy, resources can be efficiently shared via platforms (Plattformökonomie) . These are just a few examples of sustainable starting points. With a fact-based perspective, however, it quickly becomes clear, green washing is not necessary. Schritt für Schritt können alle mit gezielten und strategisch sinnvollen Maßnahmen die Zukunft nachhaltig gestalten.