Sustainability framework : Notes #1

I’m reinventing myself. Want to become a “sustainability expert” so I’m MOOC’ing, reading Malthus, Club of Rome, UN millennium Goals and engaging in discussions with friends on what “Sustainability” actually means.

So many people and organizations are busy with the term that it seems to be trodden flat. What I want to do on my blog, and starting with this blogpost, is create a simple and effective framework to discuss sustainability topics in a holistic and consistent way with as few as possible personal values. I would like to come to a sort of Universal deceleration of Human Rights, but than for “a sustainable world”. This is the first of a series of post to help me organize my brain, comments on the mess below are more than welcome!

“Sustainability” when discussed in my MOOC’s focusses on needs (essential vs. wants), People, Planet, profit, the triple bottomline : economic, social and environmental impact. I want to develop a narrative in which I can discus sustainability issues with companies, corporations and local or national government and focus groups without falling into entrenched viewpoints, because that doesn’t help the discussion further.

Key concepts

“What will exponential growth mean for my business model?”
Exponential growth in an environment with boundaries is silly. Ask yeast, duckweed or Facebook about the limits to the exponential growth function in our finite world. So key concept to my sustainability will be : contemplate the growth impact of what you are trying realize

“Does my business model leave as many resources for our children as we have now?”
This will also play a central role in my model, it is only looks at US, doesn’t look back to how we got where we are now, and forces us to think about what we leave as our heritage. Sustainability Concepts to be covered: bio-diversity, Atmospheric gasses (CO2 – Methane)

Does my way of doing business improve social inclusiveness?
This concept comes from the UN millennium goals, something I hadn’t given much thought before, but as I get older and see more and more effects of government policies that push people to the brink of existence, I start to realize that this is a very important concept in sustainability. If what you is only beneficial for a smaller and smaller subset of society (even be it a profitable subset) you are not on a sustainable track.
Especially governments are susceptible to this risk, with corporatism as a prima example of how NOT to organize a government.

Are people even prime?
Many models are very anthropocentric, and I dare to question that. The world as “Gaya” organism may be the other end of this scope, but I think that we human beings are not “entitled” to the riches of the earth. I of course go straight into many religions here, where holy manuscripts put humans on top and only ask them to be good stewards. I think that we need to take a step back and look at our role in a more natural, biological way : we are only one out of a million and more species, and have no “higher rights” to the riches of our world than say a rain worm. The fact that we can think does give us an even greater responsibility to contemplate the effects of our behavior than that rain worm!

Education and Training to become Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)
Typically, top executives, including chief sustainability officers, must possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university, although many positions also require a Master’s in Business Administration or a related degree. Desired coursework during college and graduate school might include public administration, environmental science, environmental management, environmental engineering, business administration, architecture and urban planning. Many positions require significant sustainability and managerial experience as well.


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