Sustainability goes beyond sponsorships – Daily Nation

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JUSTIN APSEY

By JUSTIN APSEY
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In an era when corporates are expected to provide timely reports to shareholders and the rigorous scrutiny of business processes, creating and running a sustainable business can be daunting.

Generally, sustainability refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. A sustainable enterprise is, therefore, one that has successfully integrated environmental, economic and social issues into its operations.

The term has, however, been associated with environmental protection to the extent that, locally, many companies that consider themselves to be sustainable only meet a fraction of this definition.

It’s no longer just about the quest for profits. Lately, it is also about how to make profits while also addressing common global challenges, some of which are more often than not direct or indirect results of the production processes.

Across the world, corporate entities are increasingly actively committing themselves to being part of a solution to economic, social and environmental challenges. Firms are increasingly rededicating their commitment to global targets aimed at meeting and reversing global warming, joblessness among the youth and environmental pollution.

It also comes as a breath of fresh air that firms are entering into public-private partnerships and joining hands with other like-minded public and private initiatives to stop and reverse global challenges that humanity is now staring at.

This is a commendable turn of events because it means that, in a few years, some of the worrying challenges will be reversed as the efforts bear fruit.

The point firms find themselves in now has been long coming.

Take the example of degradation of the environment through plastics and joblessness in Kenya.

Firms that use plastic to package their goods should not turn a blind eye to the growing plastic menace. Currently, only 63 per cent of the plastic is recyclable with plans to increase it to 80 per cent this year.

A recent study conducted by UN Environment indicated that 2,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of plastic materials produced every month in Kenya end up in municipal waste streams and landfills.

The greatest realisation corporates must make is that sustainability goes beyond caring for the environment. It involves three major aspects — environmental, economic and social — each of which must be taken into consideration for a true sustainability strategy.

The rise of environmentally- and socially conscious companies is inspiring. It’s clear that consumers prefer sustainable brands. But without proper plans to reach your consumers and show them what your brand is doing, there’s a risk of miscommunication.

This comes with the challenge of helping business owners to feel connections to these issues, especially if they don’t see immediate returns from investing in sustainability.

Despair should, however, not set in.

It is imperative for companies to adopt regular reporting on progress against sustainability targets as an integral part of feedback to shareholders to address this challenge.



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