The Implications Of The Economics Of Sustainability And Environmental Well Being
Developing economic regulations that will ultimately lead to the implementation of sustainable industries has been on the cards for decades now. What is the state of sustainability initiatives today? Corporations play a major role in sustainability. How has the face of Corporate Social Responsibility changed to accommodate sustainability? Governments of developed as well as third world nations have pledged their dedication towards sustainability but have these nations taken any concrete steps towards environmental well being?
Sustainability Initiatives Today
In Borneo, villagers are replacing polluting diesel generators with small scale hydro-generators and tapping local streams to produce clean and affordable electricity for their communities. In Astoria, Oregon, the local government, businesses and residents have used ecological design practices to transform a toxic mill site into a convivial community. Although these events may appear to be isolated incidents, they represent thousands of initiatives taking place worldwide that are the vanguard of the Sustainability Revolution.
Sustainability is not a one off initiative but consists of several smaller movements taken up the world over across various industrial sectors that include communications (computers, the internet, e-mail and wireless phones), transportation (hybrid cars, low fare jet flights) and building (green building, solar energy and renewable materials). Most sustainability initiatives have certain commonalities like: a) The objectives and goals of each initiative are based on a common set of principle i.e.: environmental well being, b) initiatives, though based on common principles, address a diverse range of environmental and sustainability challenges, c) the leadership of these initiatives is not centralized and is not bound by political motivations. There are also initiatives taken up prominent international organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) that refuses to deal with traders who are known to conduct business in a manner that is damaging to the environment. In all, as nations, people and corporations awaken to the reality of environmental depletion, sustainability is fast picking up pace on an international stage.
What are the corporate giants doing?
A few decades ago, industrial giants were either ignorant about the concept of sustainability or found the theory of natural fuels running out ridiculous. However, as science progressed and the serious nature of environmental depletion came to the fore, corporations have been forced towards taking their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) much more seriously. Modern day corporate giants acknowledge the need for environmentally responsible operations. In fact, they have also come to realize that sustainability initiatives can be quite profitable for them too! Some examples of corporate effort towards sustainability are: a) Wal-Mart, whose "Sustainability 360" program has reduced annual shipping container use by 500 units, preventing the consumption of 1,000 barrels of oil and 3,800 trees while netting the retail giant $2.4 million in cost savings, b) Nestlé Waters, the maker of Deer Park, Arrowhead and Poland Spring water brands, which has pruned the mass of its plastic bottles by 15 percent, reducing the amount of waste the product ultimately contributes to landfills while also reducing its manufacturing and shipping costs, and c) Dial Corporation, whose development of a concentrated liquid laundry detergent lowers the amount of water needed during the product's production and reduces packaging material by 40 percent — lessening its landfill impact while significantly lowering the company's transportation, distribution and storage costs.
What are governments doing?
While pressure from sustainability pioneers and activists placed enough emphasis on the urgent need for environmental conservation drove corporations to act, governments too were not far behind with several talks being held between nations to develop strategies to attain a sustainable economy. Several Acts have resulted, some of the prominent ones are: a) The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions, b) Executive Order 13514 – “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance” of 2009 enhances EO 13423 "to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the Federal Government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) a priority for Federal agencies.”, and c) The formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sustainability Program.
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