Private Sector Sustainability

As world leaders gathered in New York in 2015 and endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many in the private sector had little idea how these will affect them or what their role would be to achieve these global goals. Many in government had little idea of the role of the private sector either. This left us with government officials and businesses alike thinking that achieving the SDGs was solely the governments’ responsibility. Both soon realised that it wasn’t.

In fact, the private sector’s contribution cuts across all the SDGs, their role in some goals being more crucial than in others. There are a number of ways that the private sector could contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, and doing so while transitioning to a green business model without impacting on their bottom line… in fact, there can also be a number of savings to be made which in turn contributes to higher profits. The models and methods we use are customised to the particular industry, its size and production capacity.

While I worked with the Pacific Islands Development Forum, I led the establishment of the Pacific Green Business Centre in an effort to help small and medium sized businesses transition to a greener business model. The Centre focused on eight economic sectors: Sustainable Agriculture, Tourism, Energy, Green Packaging, Natural Resource Management, Sustainable Transport, Blue Economy, and Business and Human Rights.

The Pacific Green Business Centre did not focus on the manufacturing industry but this is a sector we are particularly concerned with.

There are a number of areas that the manufacturing sector could address to both reduce its impact on the environment and cut production costs to make it more competitive. In the order of potential impact (again depending on the industry concerned) these are the areas we recommend to be tackled when developing a green implementation strategy and action plan:

  • Energy

  • Packaging

  • Waste

  • Procurement

  • Transport

  • Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility

Each of these sectors will be dealt with separately in future blog posts.

As this point it is important for businesses to realise the advantages in it for companies that walk the sustainability path. These are:

  • Improved brand image and competitive advantage;

  • Increased productivity and reduced costs;

  • Increased ability for business to comply with regulation;

  • Ability to attract employees and investors;

  • Reduced waste; and

  • Shareholder satisfaction.

At the end of the day it should be crystal clear that by becoming sustainable, the company is not sacrificing profitability. On the contrary, down the line it will become even more profitable and competitive, and does so with integrity. We are here to help you find your own path to sustainability.

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