Most companies recognise sustainability as one of the most important factors in the future of a successful business, but they still ask themselves “where do we start?”
This article explores 5 practices for integrating sustainability as a competitive device:
1. Creating a sustainability strategy
The sustainability strategy must involve the entire organisation, guaranteeing a broad, practical and relevant vision of its impact on the environment and society. Sustainability should also be present in the adoption of good ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) practices and in the way that the company relates to its customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.
These concerns and guidelines have emerged as a top issue for decision-makers seeking to pursue responsible management. In this new mindset organisations are not only concerned with achieving economic success but have started to include environmental protection and social equity in their objectives.
The opportunities that sustainability represents today lead us to say that we see sustainability as the new “fuel” for economic, social and environmental capital.
2. Developing organisational culture
Developing an organisational culture with sustainability principles plays a critical role in the success of a company’s sustainability strategy. A culture that values sustainability not only drives innovation and resilience, but also creates an environment where sustainability is truly embedded in the organisation’s DNA.
Organisational culture is the set of values and behaviours that guide actions in a company. When an organisation embraces sustainability, it creates an environment that leads to the effective implementation of the strategy.
Educating and involving the entire organisation is fundamental. This can be done through training programmes, awareness-raising and incentives to performance evaluation and adoption of sustainable practices. Human Resources can become sustainability ambassadors and contribute significantly to the success of the company’s initiatives.
3. Integrate Life Cycle Analysis tools
Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a tool that allows companies to assess all the activities that a company carries out to create and deliver a product or service, from the acquisition of raw materials until the final product reaches the customer. This includes the company’s internal operations and external activities that directly or indirectly impact sustainability.
Through LCA, companies can identify areas where they can make improvements, such as: reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; reducing water consumption; sustainable purchasing; prioritising suppliers in line with the organisational strategy; and leveraging the application of circularity to transform passive resources into active resources.
Carrying out an LCA analysis requires experience and technical knowledge, and it can be useful to involve sustainability experts or consultants in conducting the analysis.
4. Implementing a sustainable project roadmap
Implementing a project roadmap and identifying material topics are key steps to directing efforts more efficiently, responding to stakeholder’s expectations and to stand out as leaders on the journey towards a more sustainable future.
A sustainable project roadmap is a structured plan that establishes clear goals and steps for achieving corporate sustainability. This roadmap represents a guide that helps companies navigate challenges and opportunities.
Start by identifying clear sustainability goals that are aligned with the organisational values and strategies. Carry out a comprehensive Gap analysis of the current sustainability status. Prioritise projects that will have the greatest impact and create an implementation plan, with metrics and performance indicators to monitor progress towards the defined sustainability objectives and achieve a sustainable and profitable company.
5. Comply with sustainability regulations
A new language and regulations, good practices and initiatives related to sustainability have been developed. The diverse set of acronyms and technical terms, often referred to as the “alphabet soup” and the legislative “tsunami”, play a key role in promoting transparency, innovation, responsibility and progress in sustainability.
Due to their scope and impact, we would like to highlight the Green Taxonomy Regulation, EU Regulation 2020/852 and its delegated acts, and EU Directive 2022/2464 on Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, known as the CSRD, which establishes new rules for companies, both aimed at protecting different stakeholders from greenwashing practices.
The CSRD defines stricter criteria and requirements that organisations must consider when drawing up sustainability reports. It also requires organisations to publish information on their environmental, social and governance impacts.
It is essential to be aware of this new sustainability language and to comply with sustainability regulations.
In a world that is increasingly aware of environmental, social and purpose issues, sustainability is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have”. The road to sustainability is a continuous journey, and the future is closer than ever. Any action, whether small or large, counts in the collective effort to build a more sustainable future. Start your sustainability strategy today.
By Sílvia Guerra for The Porto Protocol Foundation
Sustainability Consultant, Aliados Consulting