‘Environmentalism at the core’
29th Sep, 2020
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the World Bank Group’s global practices have recognised sustainability as an essential issue of global importance.
- Humans have, since the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution and maybe even before then, been a consumer rather than a replenisher of environmental resources.
- From hunter-gatherer societies that moved into an area to use up its resources in a season before setting up camp or moving on, only to return the following year to do the same, the development of a surplus economy saw permanent settlements.
- Driven by technological advances and global integration, the strong economic growth experienced over the last century has been accompanied by gains in material welfare in all parts of the world.
- However, governments pursuing sustainable development face the challenge to balance the challenges and opportunities of growth and to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures.
- Given the global nature of challenges such as climate change it is imperative that countries build strong coalitions to address issues of common concern, and that they adapt institutions and decision making processes to ever-increasing globalization.
What is Sustainability?
- An ecosystem, a lifestyle, or a community that is sustainable is one which supports itself and its surroundings.
- This is a philosophy which is built on a solid foundation of sustainability.
- Sustainability itself can be defined by three core elements, each of which must be carefully considered in relation to the others:
- Environmental Protection
- Social Development
- Economic Development
What is Environmental Sustainability?
- Environmental sustainability is understood as
- buying greener products
- avoiding hazardous materials
- energy optimisation
- waste reduction
How industries avoid the big picture of ‘environmentalism’?
- While some firms are still reluctant to engage in environmentally beneficial activities as they are afraid to compromise on the economic benefits, some others have positioned environmental practices at the forefront due to legislation, and industry and government commitments.
- In several firms, high importance has been given to environmentalism due to compelling regulatory norms, and a potential to manage costs, risks and optimise eco-friendly practices.
- However, in this process, organisations, especially in the manufacturing sector, get so serious about the low-hanging fruits of waste reduction and energy efficiency improvements that they fail to recognise the need for restructuring their learning imperatives and see the big picture of environmentalism.
- While government norms, organisational policies and corporate environmental responsibility projects drive environment-friendly practices, these are merely short-term actions towards environmental sustainability.
How ‘green supply chain’ will help?
Only through organisational learning can people be urged to work towards long-lasting benefits. In this context, green supply chain practices are useful.
- These include green procurement, green manufacturing, green distribution, and reverse logistics.
- Integrated environmental concerns: With practices starting from acquisition of eco-friendly raw material to disposal/ reuse/ recycle of used products,employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers will be able to integrate environmental concerns in the daily operations of a firm.
- Higher economic performance: Inter-linkages not only lead to a long-lasting natural drive towards environmental performance, but also to higher economic performance.
- Organisational learning: Thus, green supply chain practices enable organisational learning in environmental sustainability.
- Better and eco-friendly strategies:The resultant learning system smoothens the knowledge flow in the organisation and help firms to strategise for better performance, bearing in mind the environmental aspects.
- Promotion at all level: This further promotes environmentalism across all players in manufacturing supply chains. Thus, environmental sustainability is ensured from the source (willingness) and not through force (regulations).
Why ‘drawing’ and ‘understanding’ linkages between green supply chain is crucial?
- Drawing linkages between green supply chain practices, corporate environmental performance, corporate economic performance and the dimensions of learning organisations in firms is necessary for an organisation’s progress and environmental protection in society.
- Understanding these inevitable links will enable managers and experts to shape their organisational values, work practices, and performances for the greater good of society.
- When the different players of a manufacturing supply chain realise the inherent benefits associated with organisational learning dimensions, their drive towards environmentalism increases.
- Policymakers should support this thinking by not merely imposing environmental practices as regulatory norms but by emphasising on the creation of green supply chain-based learning systems in manufacturing.
Sustainability is extremely important as we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on Earth, or Earth’s ecosystems unless we embrace it. There are indications from all quarters and from the smallest to the largest scale that sustainability is something we must address.
It’s high time to change the scenario by understanding and striving for sustainability—in our own homes, in our communities, in our ecosystems, and around the world.