Redefining Sustainability

Sustainability is not just ensuring energy security and combating global warming, it is a much wider concept. While this approach is useful for tackling today's pressing issues, sustainability requires a more holistic approach. Let's go back to the beginning of what it means to be sustainable, and remember that its historic sense may be more appealing to some than its more contemporary environmental connotation. The call for environmental awareness and conservation has dominated politics, the media, and, more recently, social media in the last few decades. The term ‘sustainability’ has become synonymous with the concept of a greener future.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability entails addressing our demands without jeopardizing future generations' ability to meet their own. We require social and economic resources in addition to natural resources. Environmentalism isn't the only aspect of sustainability. Concerns for social fairness and economic development are found in most definitions of sustainability. While the concept of sustainability is a novel one, the movement as a whole has origins in social justice, conservationism, internationalism, and other long-standing causes. Many of these ideas had come together by the end of the twentieth century in the push for sustainable development.

Throughout contemporary history, sustainability has been a major challenge for humankind, spanning the century-long worry of securing a sustainable energy supply and the hunt for sustainable transportation. Horse excrement was a big issue for city people in the late nineteenth century. With 100,000 to 200,000 horses working as

 transportation in New York City, the city's streets began to see increasing piles of horse dung (up to 60 feet), bringing negative health and environmental repercussions for the city's residents. Not only did the horses generate waste faster than the city could clean it up, but they also cost the city enormously in terms of revenue.

Technology, of course, came to the rescue in the end. Public-produced automobiles quickly displaced mass defecation, protecting the city from serious environmental health risks. Automobiles were thought to be the answer to the horse-dung problem. Nonetheless, it's interesting to draw a comparison between the environmental and economic consequences of transportation a century ago and the consequences that automobiles, the ‘solution,’ have now. Our quick-and-easy-solution way of life appears to suggest that we haven't changed much since the days of horse manure: we're still expecting and hoping for a magical technology to fix our issues. However, we do have the technology to save the day, in a sense. Sustainable purifying facilities, efficient electric cars, renewable energy, and recycling materials are all technologies that already exist. The underlying issue is that we have largely remained silent while the consequences of our decisions have disrupted the environment. As a result, as much as it is about the actual decisions we make, sustainability is about having the ability to reflect on and assess our consequences.


Over a couple of previous years, few trends have been apparent:

  • We are currently using the resources of 1.5 planets at our current rate of population and economic growth. A higher rate of acceleration will necessitate the use of even more resources that we don't have – or won't have for long.
  • Over the last few years, the public's patience with corporate self-interest has been severely tested, and it has been dwindling to all-time lows. Profit at the expense of the environment or society is becoming an increasingly costly and unsustainable proposition for top management teams in an era of rising transparency, where corporate misdeeds are likely to be recognized and held accountable.
  • Consumers all across the world are growing more conscious of the environmental and social consequences of the things they buy. While the majority of customers have yet to indicate that they are willing to pay extra for environmentally friendly products, they are increasingly considering these factors when deciding between products with similar features and prices. As more people join the middle class in emerging nations and more awareness spreads, this preoccupation is expected to grow.

As a result, it's time to revisit Brundtland's legacy and redefine what it means to engage in the sustainable activity:


  • Societal influence is described as a measure of society's impact on the firm in terms of the social contract and stakeholder power.
  • Environmental Impact is defined as the impact of a company's operations on the geophysical environment.
  • Corporate culture is the relationship between the corporation and its internal stakeholders, primarily employees, and all facets of that connection.
  • Lastly, Finance is inferred as a reasonable return for the level of risk taken or investment made.

All of these things are required to ensure not only long-term sustainability but also long-term progress. Furthermore, the balance between them is critical. These four fundamental characteristics of sustainability must be examined, and they are all equally vital. Sustainability has also been a part of Buddhist thought since the time of karma. We are yet to fully execute the concept, despite its extensive philosophical history. That must change. If we want to overcome anything from the noxious odor of manure to the severe and unpredictable climate that will affect our entire globe, we must embrace sustainability. Our energy and climate crises should not be the primary context in which we discuss sustainability. Rather, it's a philosophy and notion that may be applied to a wide range of aspects of life and society. Although we urgently want innovative and effective technology to save us from today's ‘horse manure,’ We must also begin to evaluate the full consequences of how we think about and react to our decisions.