One of the major challenges that the global economy faces today is sustainability, with threats from climate change, ever-increasing food and water shortages, and surging population. Stringent governmental regulations and continuing surge in energy costs are forcing corporates to relook their strategy and put a high priority on minimizing energy usage, cutting down on carbon emissions, developing eco-friendly products, and finding ways to reduce electronic, chemical and other wastes. While it is a positive sign, organizations are struggling to implement these efforts successfully and they need to take a systematic approach.
The Starting Point
Organizations need to create a sustainability value map. The starting point is forming a cross functional team and identify an overall owner of the initiative, who will be supported by members from each key constituents. The team should be responsible for making a comprehensive plan, executing it seamlessly, and managing the overall cost of initiatives.
The Right Organization
Organizations should look at appointing a Chief Sustainability Officer who comes from an area, which has maximum contribution to sustainability initiatives.
Each functional head/unit head, irrespective of his/her direct involvement, should have additional KPIs on the sustainability objectives of the organization. Organizations should never assume that they have all skills and expertise in-house. For gaps identified, they should look out externally for competent help. The potential areas for for external help are establishing and designing the program, subject matter expertise in specialized areas like energy/GHG (Green House Gas) audit, IT and data enablement of certain initiatives and interpretation & evaluation of existing & future laws. All initiatives tend to loose focus and die a natural death unless they are measured, monitored and managed.