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One of the simplest definitions of "sustainability" is the capacity to endure. Over the last 20 years, that definition has been adapted for organizations and is now most commonly understood as encompassing a "triple bottom line" – people, planet and prosperity.
An organization which prudently manages its financial position, protects the environment and respects all its stakeholders – including employees, suppliers, and customers – is sustainable and has the capacity to endure and prosper.
While the concepts are simple, the execution and commitment required to innovate and drive sustainability initiatives through an organization cannot be underestimated. Launching renewable energy solutions, establishing zero waste goals, allocating a percentage of profits for community engagement, or initiating a biannual stakeholder roundtable all require resources which may or may not be immediately available to the organization.
Setting priorities and determining which initiatives to tackle in any given year demand a focus on current sustainability issues that reduce costs and create measurable value.
As the world grows more complex and susceptible to environmental, social and market transformations, institutions must adapt and develop a sophisticated understanding of the tenets of true sustainability.
The shift is already occurring.
Organizations that proactively embrace sustainability demonstrate a higher capacity to endure to the benefit of their customers, employees, communities and the ecosystems they inhabit.