“Making a Difference for the Future”
Although “Sustainability Strategy” is an all-inclusive concept, it means different things at different institutional levels; corporate, national, and international. Generally, sustainability strategy encompasses a general idea or a basic plan of how to align non-financial aspects with commercial/economic practices in a way that derives business benefit, national development agenda, and global development agenda.
Institutions at all different levels seek sustainability strategy when they are convinced that improved sustainability performance, environmentally and socially, is an advantage in the medium to long term, as the “Strategy” puts sustainability into the core of activities to assure the merge of the economic/financial elements with the environmental and social pillars.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy for implementing sustainability. It is implemented in an iterative manner; institutions move back and forth from step to step as they progress toward implementation.
Defining Sustainability. It is important to define what sustainability means for every area and to identify its benefits. From investment decisions to developing new products or services, and changing procurement practices, these are simple examples where sustainability has an increasingly pivoting role in these decisions.
Nature of Activities. Institutions’ impact varies among stakeholders. In general, organizations should keep a close relationship and a constant dialogue with all its stakeholders. It is important that engagement should respond to expectations from both sides.
Setting Goals & Targets. Sustainability goals and targets must be established as a starting point. For this to happen, gap analysis is a must to identify key environmental, social, and governance issues, besides the financial ones. At this stage, executive commitment is crucial, and stakeholders’ engagement is a cornerstone. Whether driven by cost reductions, innovation, or improved financial performance, efforts focus on mitigating risks and seizing opportunities.
Action Plan. As goals and targets are established, defined systems and detailed processes should be designed and in place to guide the implementation, and to allow for effective monitoring and evaluation. Throughout the design, processes, and policies in place must be considered, integration and collaboration among different activities and areas are crucial to the success of the implementation.
Following-Up & Reporting. Finally, defining key performance indicators to meet the set goals and targets, and collecting relevant data to track progress will facilitate identifying areas that improved, and areas that are not on track. On one hand, data availability contributes to the prioritization of issues and initiatives and the promotion of ownership of sustainability practices. On the other hand, collecting data is essential for accountability, and responding to stakeholders’ expectations.
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