Glossary of Sustainable Development Concepts

Sustainable development embraces environmental science, social science, economics and business theory. It comes with its own concepts and language, some understanding of which is essential for the formulation of sustainable business models and engaging with experts, stakeholder dialogue and NGOs. In our workshops we provide a model to enable understanding of these concepts and their implications for business.

*1% for the Planet*
"One Percent for the Planet is an alliance of companies that recognize the true cost of doing business and donate 1% of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Through our corporate giving, grants and philanthropy, we encourage responsible business and corporate responsibility. Our environmental alliance is designed to help our members become sustainable businesses and our environmental group database aids our membership to make choices with their corporate grants to environmental organizations."

Biomimicry is the study of nature to find creative ways to develop products/services that are far more innovative and sustainable then what humans currently produce. This new science acknowledges that nature has been practicing the production of non-toxic products for billions of years and has already tested and removed trillions of failures. One of the many miraculous examples is the process by which leaves use photosynthesis to produce energy without harmful emissions. For further insight explore Janine M. Benyus’s influential book on the integration of biomimicry into product/service development, Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by nature, (London: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1997).

From green to blue. Bluewash is a derogatory term describing the relationship between companies which sign up to the Global Compact and The United Nations to allude to a social conscience. The UN’s Global Compact defines nine sustainability principles by which companies should operate. There is nothing wrong with the principles, but there are no admission mechanisms beyond application and a commitment to adhere to the principles, and there are no auditing mechanisms to ensure that the principles are observed in practice. Critics therefore argue that The Global Compact merely serves to provide cynical companies with a convenient public relations humanitarian screen. There is evidence from the nature and extent of membership that there is some truth in these claims. Sustainable Enterprise Ltd supports the Global Compact as a basis for spreading the principles of sustainability and corporate responsibility, but counsels citizens to be wary of placing much credence on membership as denoting any special ethical credentials. Indeed founding compact companies such as Bayer and Nestle have been widely criticized for their poor human rights and environmental records.
Our message to sustainable enterprises is to keep sustainability claims, simple, clear and authentic. Consumer and NGO backlash if you do not can be profound.

Bottom of the Pyramid
At the bottom of the economic Pyramid (BOP) at least 4 billion people exist on less then $2 a day. It is simply dangerous to future growth and development to Ignore 4 billion people’s desire for freedom of choice and wellbeing. Developing products and services aimed at this market, is a profitable pursuit if an enterprise thinks outside of conservative service/product sales. For example shampoo can be sold in single servings or cellphones can be rented rather than purchased. Experts in this field, such as C.K. Prahalad, writer of the 2004 book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, stress that once you stop thinking conventionally and start thinking practically there are tremendous returns to producing products/services for the bottom of the pyramid.

Brownfields development

Community Engagement

Contamination of raw materials

Cradle to Cradle

Creative Destruction

Design for Disassembly

Design for the Environment: Beautiful + Sustainable

Love your product/service.
Design for the Environment demonstrates care and consideration for materials; it also displays personality and creativity towards its eventual lifecycle of use. It makes the user fall in love with it – compels them to keep it forever.
Design out obsolescence – remove the love-by date.
Sustainability is for everyone, not just environmental activists. Even if a product is designed to be sustainable it only achieves total sustainability if the person using the product is accountable to it at the end of its life, such as returning it to its manufacturers or recycling it. Therefore it is essential that designers create beautiful products that are both sustainable and educate consumers on how to act sustainably.

Disruptive and Leapfrog Technologies
These are beneficial technologies that shift the purpose or value propositions of the Enterprise and create new markets. It is called ‘disruptive’ because these technologies change markets, at first disruptive technology products/services may under perform in existing markets and be of interest to only a few customers. But the potential of disruptive technologies is to introduce new customers, while retaining past customers, and build the Enterprise into the leader of new rapidly growing markets.

‘Leapfrog’ is a term indicating the ability to use, or jump to, the technology most suited to the development of the product/service and the enterprises needs. Through Research and Development R&D Enterprises can understand the current market and capture, or even create, future markets with innovative leapfrog technologies. Investing in leapfrog technology is a key way to prevent others from dominating markets that could impact on your Enterprises existing markets, and to be champions in your industry.

- For example, some developing nations are in a position to install cheaper, more technologically advanced and more available forms of communication. Leapfrogging over copper wires and landing on wireless systems of high bandwidth

Eco-characteristics disclosure
Eco-characteristics of Products/Services:
- effective energy use by facilities, materials and products/services- particularly limited use of non-renewable energy and maximizing renewable energy
- Low harmful emissions – with the aim of the product/service generating nourishing emissions during the entire life-cycle, or neutralizing emissions such as carbon dioxide by planting trees.
- comply to health and safety regulations
- efficient use of water
- durability
- modularity – adaptable to local context
- efficient distribution/transportation methods - manufactured close to distribution outlets to minimise the impact of transportation
- design for easy efficient recycling and/or remanufacture at end of use
- avoidance of waste

Disclosing eco-characteristics of a product/service consists of providing information to consumers about the above characteristics. For example, by indicating through five star ratings the energy efficiency of a product/service such as a washing machine, Energy Use Intensity

Environmental Expertise Sharing

Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
EMS is programs designed to help an Enterprise perform as a Sustainable Enterprise. There are a range of standards upon which to model EMS, such as ISO 14001 or TNS (The Natural Step Each gives guidelines and processes to focus enterprises efforts to act sustainably, particularly in regards to advice on life-cycle assessment, auditing, and labeling. An effective management system involving third party assessment will generate efficient organization, minimize risk and create reductions in waste to enhance enterprise value

Extended Producer Responsibility

Fair compensation and employment Practices

Fair-trade Certification

Fair trade practises are methods of operating that involve transparency, dialogue and respect within all relationships - partners, suppliers, customers and consumers. The purpose of fair trade is to foster sustainable enterprise by creating more equitable circumstances for trade and enforcing Human Rights. Fair-trade cuts out the middlemen from the trade process as importers deal directly with producers co-operatives. Other aspects of fair trade are; pay a fair price with fixed minimums, transparency, foster long lasting relationships, gender and cultural equality, capacity building/social development and provision of healthy/safe working conditions.
However, there are problems with Fair-trade labelling as customer demand increases it becomes more of a niche market then an alternative method of Trade. For example large enterprises, such as Nestle, take advantage of the label Fair-trade by adopting it only for a small percentage of their products and use this as leverage to greenwash their image. Or customers purchase products that have been imported and purchased fairly, and hence have the fair-trade label, under the impression that it is a completely equitable product while the circumstances in which the product is made might not be so fair.

Food Miles

Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs – elimination from products/services
GMOs are organisms that have had their genetic make up (DNA) changed by methods that do not occur naturally. Genetic modification transfers traits - genes that produce proteins - that are advantageous from one organism to another. Global biotech and agrochemical companies such as Monsanto have been advocates of manipulating seed organisms. One of the Monsanto’s most common forms of GMOs is plants with resistance to herbicide, such as “Roundup Ready” soybeans.

Critics of GMOs claim that the main reason behind the development of GMOs is so that the global corporates that own the patents can then control the market, introduce killer genes to ensure farmers have to buy new ones every year and externalise the risk to the planet at large of the unknown impacts on health and the environment. There are many concerns about the long term effects of GMO use, especially as there is no 100% fool proof method of predicting what will happen when GMOs interact with other naturally occurring organisms and cause environmental contamination. Because of the links between GMO and increased pesticide use plus unknown risks consumer reaction - especially in Europe to so-called ‘Frankenstein food’ - has been strongly negative leading to constraints on the enthusiasm with which these products are developed. Strict controls are in place to identify, label and in some cases ban GMO contaminated food. But production is escalating especially in the US, which harvests more than 70% of the world's GMO crops.

Greenwash is a term coined in the 1990s from a combination of green and whitewash. It is used to describe the deliberate use of green marketing or communication to conceal fundamentally unsound environmental practices, or to persuade consumers of unjustified green credentials of a company, with a view to persuading them to buy its products. It’s serious and widespread, and fraudulent because it creates perceptions and benefits that are untrue. Consumers could be persuaded to buy products which are not what they are purported to be, or to invest in companies that are a higher risk than they appear because environmental and therefore consumer related risks are concealed.

Greenwash comes in many flavours.

    * The use of advertising promoting environmental stories or images which are only a tiny part of the companies activities, giving a misleading impression of the whole
    * Falsely claiming environmental credentials or associations.
    * Publishing incorrect or misleading claims about the scientific attributes or environmental benefits of products
    * Promoting products as natural when they are in fact chemical compounds
    * Spending more advertising environmental activities or philanthropy than on the activities themselves
    * Cloaking with green fundamentally unsustainable industries and business models such as fossil fuel exploitation
    * Advising others to act sustainably without being sustainable yourself
    * Environmental labelling systems which purport to provide assurances of environmental responsibility, but where weak regulations, oversight or audit requirements fail to live up to their commitments.

Harmful Emissions

Health effects of products/services disclosure

Human rights
Human Rights are the rights we as humans have to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Fundamental Human Rights were declared in 1948 by the United Nations to educate and ensure that justice, freedom and joy is upheld by everyone. The key principles of human rights are: Every person is treated fairly and equally, work and compensation rights, Freedom Right to education, Healthy standard of living for oneself and ones family, Right to social order which upholds Human Rights, Subject to laws that might limit personal rights/freedom if the laws purpose is to justly help the rights of others, Ability to pursue joy everyday and Security of Person and life. Enterprises also benefit by creating joy and endorsing Human Rights from increased productivity and economic gain due to improved employee morale, respect, better working conditions, higher pay and sense of purpose. The turn over of employees will also be reduced.

Life-cycle analysis

Local Capacity Building

Local Capacity Building (LCB) is a term used to describe involvement with local communities within which the Enterprise operates. Enterprises that are actively involved in supporting local communities - whether through employment, donation of time or advice on entrepreneurship among other things - increase the wellbeing of communities and foster peace. Common goals of LCB projects are to reduce poverty, increase health/personal wellbeing and people’s ability to access human resources and global markets. It aspires to remove a one-sided financial ‘aid’ relationship by encouraging interaction and the transferal of information.

Local Purchasing

Material use intensity

Monitoring of emissions

Nature Restoration + Brownfields Redevelopment

Nature restoration is the rehabilitation, reclamation, re-creation, recovery, conservation and/or maintenance of sites of natural ecologies such as forests or rivers. Other programs for replenishing the environment include support of environmental community projects, Brownfields redevelopment and educational workshops. Brownfields redevelopment refers to sites/areas that are under redevelopment, expansion or reuse after environmental contamination. It is a term usually used to describe underutilized or abandoned sites within urban areas. Engaging in the restoration of sites reverses health risks from pullulated sites and proving environmental stewardship improves the enterprises reputation.

Non Government Organisations NGOs – Their impact and behavior
NGOs are Non-Governmental Orgnaisations that don’t have the same vested interests as government and for-profit enterprises, organizations like Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International They strive for equitable and environmental accounting by enterprises, through campaigning or direct action, often to create changes in national and international policy-making. Because NGOs are primarily noncommercial an important portion of their funding and support comes from private enterprises.
Establishing forms of engagement with relevant NGOs reduces risk and can achieve the goals of the enterprise in a sustainable way by working with experts from NGOs who can help to lesson environmental impact and increase Sustainable efforts.

Nourishing Emissions

Outsource Partners – compensation, fair trade and human rights

Packaging for recycling and/or take back

Peak oil debate

People Diversity

Philanthropy – money and involvement

Post-use Recycling + Product/Service Take Back

Post-use recycling, often referred to as product/service take back or remanufacturing, is a cradle-to-cradle operation. The products/services that the enterprise creates are fed back into the enterprise once the user has finished with it. The enterprise demonstrates responsibility for the collection and reuse and disposal of the product/service components in a sustainable manner.
Take-back eliminates harmful disposal costs to the enterprise and environment and also brings savings to the enterprise from recaptured materials. Post-use recycling

Product take-back

Product/service durability

Purpose – inclusion of sustainability principles

Renewable Resources

Renewable Resources are resources that through management, treatment, development, or other means, can be replenished or regenerated by ecological processes that operate on a time scale relevant to their use. For example, biomass, solar, tidal, wind, geothermal resources, hydroelectric, plants (e.g. forestry) and animals (e.g. fisheries). The opposite of renewable resources is Natural Capital, resources that have no substitutes and a market value that does not account for all social and environmental costs, such as fossil fuels and mined products which operate on a geologic timescale. Sarbanes-Oxley

Stakeholder dialogue

Sustainability education

Sustainability experts

Sustainability laws and regulations

Sustainability practices of suppliers and business partners

Sustainable marketing

The Global Compact

The Natural Step

Transportation and distribution efficiency + Foodmiles

Resource efficient transportation and distribution is the eco-effective transit of people, products and services. It involves guidelines, planning and technologies that assimilate sustainable values.
Food-miles, the calculation of how far food travels to get to your taste buds, is a growing area of concern. Food-miles matter because transportation creates pollution particularly in the form of carbon dioxide, consumes vast amounts of petrochemicals, raises concern for animal welfare, conflicts with local farmer’s livelihood, and simply goes against common sense.

Design plays a vital role in creating efficient transportation methods, especially in facility/building and planning to encourage environmental behavior, such as designing packaging factories and distribution outlets close to where the product is produced. Alternative travel options, like teleconferencing with design innovations like Skype, or working from home also aid the development of creative ‘enterprise delivery’ options.
Enterprises that use resource effective transportation and distribution methods will tap into a growing market of consumers who are looking for products and services that have minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable transportation also creates enterprise value from minimization of cost and technological innovation.

Triple Bottom Line Reporting

A Sustainability or Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Report is a document that relates to the operations of the Enterprise on economic, environmental, equitable and ethical issues. These reports are an invaluable means to show stakeholders the enterprises commitment to Sustainable Enterprise. Sustainability reports aim to raise social and environmental accountability to the standards of financial reporting
A triple bottom line (TBL) focuses on 3 aspects of Sustainable performance: social, environmental and economic

Waste management

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World-class Governance + OECD Guidelines for Multinational Organisations

World Class Governance involves, Accountability, Effectiveness – particularly eco-effectiveness, Constant education on the latest standards and innovations, Research and Development, Evaluation, Maintenance, Compliance to laws and voluntary enterprises to manage risk and Purpose. Reduced risk of consumer boycott and clearly documented ethical principles encourages public appreciation for the actions of the enterprise. The UN Global Compact and OECD Guidelines offer assistance in Governance.

UN GLOBAL COMPACT The Global Compact is an initiative of the United Nations to bring together enterprises and UN agencies to encourage and implement sustainable development. It is a voluntary compact that upholds responsible corporate citizenship and facilitates a network of enterprises interested in sharing solutions on global problems and demonstrating accountability.

OECD GUIDELINES FOR MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES “The Guidelines are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries. They provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a variety of areas including; employment – industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, combating bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition and taxation”