Sustainability - Why it matters - A GLOBE-Net Editorial

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Courtesy of GLOBE Foundation

Why is it important for businesses to balance the three pillars of sustainability in their practices? The longevity of a business is dependent on economic, social, and environmental initiatives.

But that is only part of the answer. Sustainability is more than preserving business longevity. It is fundamental to the survival of our economies, our way of life, and some would argue, to our continued presence on this planet.

Without sounding alarmist, let's look at sustainability more broadly, starting in British Columbia, one of the most blessed areas of the world in terms of natural resource wealth and quality of life. Natural resources have fueled our economy for over 100 years, and in turn have contributed to the success of the larger Canadian economy.

Some of the world's largest mining, energy, and forestry companies are based in BC and their presence helps to sustain our relative prosperity and our high standards of living.

Many of these companies are global leaders in corporate sustainability practices, having balanced goals in the three fields of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental), and one might assume they will easily sustain themselves for generations to come.

Life is not that simple. British Columbia's economy is part of a larger global system that is undergoing profound and accelerating changes that affect us all.

Globally readily accessible natural resources are already in short supply and voracious consumer demand is raising prices at the well head, the gas pump, and at the supermarket. Costs for every service essential to our health, education, employment, and housing are rising. Access to safe clean water is now a reality for millions and a pressing concern affecting the global food industry.

Resource exploitation is moving into areas deeper, more remote, or more environmentally vulnerable, which also can have widespread and in some case irreversible ecological consequences.

I could go on, but it is clear that sustainability is more than a way of doing business. It is a complex, inter-dependent dynamic system that affects everyone and spares no one.

That is why this report is important not only as a call to action for communities and industry, but also to clarify the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability.

Managing growing volumes of solid wastes is as important as managing energy and water. British Columbia is a world leader in waster recovery, recycling and reuse. Metro Vancouver in particular is leading the way on a Zero Waste initiative that will have national and international significance.

Ensuring responsible management in both the renewable and non-renewable resource sectors is also addressed here, as is the need for more sustainable transportation and infrastructure, including measures to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and structures.

Overall, the importance of embedding sustainability into our culture, linking environmental sustainability, economic viability, and community well being cannot be overstated.

On all these fronts the GLOBE Foundation has been one of British Columbia's strongest assets in advancing leading edge ideas and technologies that can make sustainability a reality. We will be continuing our mission of making our province a world center of excellence in sustainability at GLOBE 2014, taking place in March of next year. I look forward to seeing you there.

John Wiebe,

President and CEO

GLOBE Foundation

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