“Sustainability is critical for business strategy, model and operations of an organization” – said Mr. Joseph Martin C. F, Director, Clean Energy and Sustainability Services, Ernst and Young. These words were spoken by him in a workshop for Sustainability and GRI Reporting, an initiative, by the Social Endeavor Group and Omega at TAPMI, on the topic “Triple Bottom Line: A New Business Imperative”.
Mr. Joseph Martin C. F began by highlighting the importance of the year 1972. It was the year in which a photo of the Earth was taken by Apollo 17 at 45,000 km altitude. This photo referred to as “The Blue Marble”, became a symbol of sustainability.
Currently, 850 million people are below poverty line. He stressed on this fact and continued to say that poverty leads to anti-social elements resulting in unrest. With an increasing infant mortality, population increases leading to lower income per person. This challenge needs to be addressed without compromising on the resources an individual requires.
Economic, Social, and Environmental factors comprise of the triple bottom line of an organization. These three aspects are interrelated and need to be balanced for an economy to sustain itself. Some of the measurements of sustainability are population density, carbon emissions, forest cover, species extinction and per capita income. There will be a high negative impact if sustainability is not accounted for in an organization. He gave examples such as BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh and Volkswagen emission scandal.
Further, he spoke about scientific studies undertaken by numerous institutions and indices to measure and report sustainability. Some of them are KLD Research & Analytics, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE4Good Index, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). The classifications for an initiative are measurement, valuation, disclosure, and rating & investment.
He concluded by saying that every part of an organization is affected by sustainability. An organization must account and align itself with sustainability while defining its purpose, strategy, business model and structure. This would help reduce costs, avoid loss of revenue and remain compliant.