My feedback from the recent Sustainable Development Conference

Original publish date – Mon, 02 Nov 2009 15:00:05 +0000, Cornilius

We had a very good time of acquiring practical knowledge at the recent Sustainable Development Conference co-hosted by EconoBEE together with Kulima Solutions. The two-day event was an eye opener to the delegates who attended. Everyone was satisfied with the quality of the presentation and knowledge benefit.

The conference was hinged on the fact that something serious needs to be done with the unsustainable use of resources across the globe. Sustainable Development was defined as the “… development that meets needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Many organizations throughout the world have talked about sustainability but less effort has been put into the practical issues of the subject. It looks like everyone is scared of one day waking up to a resource-depleted earth but nothing further is undertaken to avert such a possible danger. The presenter touched on Malthus’s Basic Theory which projects that one day the world will reach a point of crisis where the population will be more than the available resources. Companies especially need to revise the way they deplete the earth’s resources if future generations are to find anything at all. Closely associated with how people are imposing their demand on the earth’s resources is the concept of ecological footprint. This compares the human demand with the earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate. In simple terms it shows how many earths are needed to sustain the global population supposing everybody lives a given lifestyle. In 2005 it was 1.3 earths. On comparative terms more developed countries have a higher number of earths needed to sustain human life.

It was realized that there are three main aspects that the subject of sustainable development centers on – Environment, Society and Economy. The impact of climate change was emphasized. Developed countries emit more gases into the atmosphere which contributes to adverse climate change and unsustainable lives. In response to the scare of the changing climate and continued unsustainable practices by organizations the UN has convened a number of summits. Notably, the UN commission for Sustainable Development meets annually to discuss progress on combating bad practices on this subject.

The conference discussed the different reporting systems. Some of the systems that were discussed include (AA) 1000; ISO 14000; FTSE 4 Good; DJSI World Index; JSE SRI Index and the GRI. A practical session was held where delegates discussed how the GRI has been implemented by one of the biggest companies in South Africa. Some areas that the company had not considered which are obviously relevant where highlighted. This session opened the eyes, especially to those delegates who have not yet started on the reporting of sustainability in their respective companies. It was quite enriching because it examined practical issues and how best reporting could be done. Keith Levenstein of EconoBEE had an opportunity to present a very rich reporting system that is currently being used by one of the leaders in Sustainability reporting in South Africa. The web-based system makes it so easy and funny to report on Sustainability instead of it being a burden. It consists of a variety of questions that are analysed in a very understandable way that produces the most objective results.

The conference presenter emphasized the need for companies to move further in practicing the most “green” habits. With the guidance of the presenter, delegates were given an opportunity to share some of the initiatives that go towards promoting sustainable development in their companies. It was unanimously agreed that all companies should enlighten the entire workforce on the importance of conserving resources so as to maintain the earth sustainable. The co-operation of every department and hierarchy in the company was identified as a vital thing if sustainable development is anything to materialize in companies.


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