The terms sustainable development are applied to a developing form of socioeconomic more human. In short, sustainable development is a concept developed towards the end of the 20th century as an alternative to the concept of habitual development, emphasizing the reconciliation between economic well-being, natural resources and society, avoiding compromising the possibility of life in the planet, nor the quality of life of the human species. The Report on the Situation of Volunteering in the World highlights that, in most societies around the world, volunteers contribute significantly to economic and social development.
Tools and Measurement of Sustainable Development
GDP and sustainable development
The gross domestic product is a widely used index in national accounts to measure the economic growth, to the point of packaging a large portion of economic reasoning and strategies. We say that we are growing or recession depending on whether the GDP is increasing or decreasing. GDP is supposed to measure economic growth over the long term, but it does not take into account the change in natural capital (possibly fossil), which is a long-term effect. This is particularly the reason why GDP is criticized by some authors, who point out the limits to the actual measurement of the wealth of a country.
GDP is calculated by aggregating the value added of the companies, which is calculated in the national accounts according to production and intermediate consumption. Sustainable development indicators such as those included in the Global Reporting Initiative or the indicators required by the law on new economic regulations in France are not included in these calculations.
The question therefore arises whether the GDP is really a reliable measure of sustainable development. The inadequacies of GDP as a measure of growth over the long term are at the origin of the reflections on green GDP.
In France, the INSEE is nevertheless GDP figure as one of the eleven indicators of the National Sustainable Development Strategy. France has a reflection on the use of new indicators whose ecological footprint.
Europe has announced that it will publish an index in 2010 of the pressure on the environment (greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of natural areas, air pollution, waste production, resource use, water consumption and water pollution), which will accompany the publication of GDP.
The standard macroeconomic instruments (GDP, for example) are insufficient, and in some cases deficient for measuring sustainable development: economic growth and in some cases appears as disconnected or even opposed to the goals of sustainable development.
It is therefore a question of constructing an aggregated index that best reflects the effectiveness of a sustainable development policy. Several indices have been established, each relating to one or more “pillars” of sustainable development:
On the economic level, it is possible to give a monetary value to the environment (we call it natural capital) or green GDP;
On the environmental front, there are the following indicators:
the environmental sustainability index,
the carbon balance or tons of CO 2 issued (personal carbon balance for individuals),
the footprint, the biocapacity and ecological deficit – the difference between the footprint and biocapacity – (or ecological surplus if biocapacity is greater than the footprint);
the Living Planet Index (The Living Planet Index LPI for English speakers), status indicator of biodiversity worldwide, showing a decrease of 58% between 1978 and 2012 the global population of vertebrates (fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles),
On the social level, we speak of the human development index (which measures the wealth, the literacy rate and the health of a population), the GINI coefficient, the sustainable well – being index or the health indicator. real progress…
Any index is nonetheless questionable: the way of aggregating the data expresses a bias. What is a country “advanced in sustainable development”? Is it a country that consumes few resources (such as Bangladesh), or is it a country with many protected national parks (like the United States)?
Decision support tools for sustainable development
The OQADD, a tool for questioning and assisting sustainable development, 16 is a questioning grid to stimulate debates on issues related to sustainable development, highlighting the key points of a project. They claim both policy evaluation and multicriteria analysis, but are used to question policies or projects in terms of sustainable development criteria. These are grids of criteria in tree structure, declining the main dimensions of sustainable development (economy, ecology, social, governance…).
This tool can be submitted to the various actors involved in the implementation of a new project: elected officials, industrialists, environmental protection associations, trade unions…
Indicators and standards
The microeconomic measure of sustainable development for businesses can be done through the Global Reporting Initiative criteria, comprising 79 economic indicators. In addition, the OECD has carried out important work on environmental indicators, and has developed the State Pressure Response model for this purpose.
The main standards and certifications that can be applied by companies are the ISO 14001 environmental standard, the ISO 50001 energy management standard, the ISO 9001 quality standard, the OHSAS 18001 health and safety certification. work, and the SA 8000 standard on ethics and the social. There is also an SD 21000 guide (in France) for taking into account the challenges of sustainable development in companies.
A new standard on corporate social responsibility, ISO 26000, was implemented in 2010. This standard integrates social responsibility, governance and ethics in a broader way.
In addition, companies may be rated by societal rating agencies, which take into account in their rating extra-financial criteria (environmental and social). Companies are judged by these agencies on the basis of their sustainability reports, or any document that can be used to assess economic, environmental and social performance. The societal rating is then used by investors to build portfolios of securities called socially responsible investments (SRI).
Cross-functional management and areas of application
The implementation of a sustainable development approach in an organization (community or company) is a complex process, which involves all the functions of the company. It is a question of setting up a true transverse program management, with correspondents in the main entities of the organization, by involving the stakeholders in a sustainable economic model. We give below some examples of fields of application particularly concerned by the implementation of a sustainable development or social responsibility approach.
Sales and Logistics
Sales and logistics are particularly impacted by sustainability issues. The sales administration function of the companies is indeed responsible for delivery to the end customer, who most often uses road transport, which is a major consumer of petroleum products.
The aim is to identify opportunities and threats in the context of increased consumer and market sensitivity to sustainable development issues, in agreement with stakeholders. Marketing must also convey to the other areas of the company the values demanded by the market. Some companies are sometimes content with communication operations rather than really changing the way the company operates; one speaks of ‘ greenwashing.
Elizabeth Reiss shows that companies have an interest in creating responsible products and services, because customers want it, and because it’s profitable. It gives ways to review the modes of production and communication. The company may in some cases be more productive and retain teams of employees and customers.
Christophe Sempels and Marc Vandercammen analyze the behavior of the responsible consumer, and underline the role of marketing in the implementation of sustainable innovations and their acceptance by the markets. They seek to create the link between demand and supply more responsible, to a “product” approach to a logical “service”.
Several loyalty programs aimed at modifying consumption behavior through marketing tools have emerged in recent years. This is for example the case of RecycleBank in the United States or the Green Points program in France. These types of programs use the bonus principle to motivate the consumer to change their consumption habits.
Research and development
The characteristics of sustainable development, which are multiple temporal and spatial scales, and the interconnection of problems, lead to new research and development issues, the recomposition of certain fields of research, and the emergence of new disciplines. Responding to the demands of sustainable development requires an increase in interdisciplinary work between the natural sciences and the human and social sciences. It is necessary to structure scientific research in a more federative way, by organizing transversal and international institutions. The demand for expertise often requires the cooperation of different disciplines. Research for sustainable development requires better data, more abundant, and more powerful tools in the field of modeling and prospective. Research must devise new forms of cooperation with other actors, policy makers, businesses, associations, unions, and other components of civil society.
The marketing should answer the question of whether to invest in recycling or invest in new clean products, which imposes choices in research and development. The research can be done in internal research laboratories for companies, or in partnership with public laboratories, for example within the framework of clusters.
Research and development may require tools knowledge management to improve the efficiency of its research. It must carry out a technology watch geared towards sustainable development objectives.
At the regulatory level, sustainable development is reflected in a set of legal texts, which can be established either at European level (European Directives) or at the level of States. Some examples of European regulations are the REACH Regulation on Chemical Substances, or the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, with regard to the environmental pillar.
At the state level, environmental and social law apply to each of these environmental and social pillars (in France the Environment Code and the Labor Code).
The charter of the environment, of constitutional value, stipulates in article 6 that “public policies must promote sustainable development. To this end, they reconcile protection and enhancement of the environment, economic development and social progress “.
Public contracts, subject to strict regulation, may incorporate environmental and social clauses, under Articles 5 and 14 of the Public Procurement Code.
The law on new economic regulations, in its article, requires listed companies to produce activity reports that reflect the environmental and social consequences of their activity.
The legal departments of companies must carry out a legal watch, possibly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the help of chambers of commerce and industry.
In addition to this watch, the legal services are asked to verify the conformity of the organization’s sustainable development actions in its economic, social and environmental variations in relation to applicable standards and the extra-financial communication that accompanies it.
Compliance with environmental, social, and economic criteria in the development of a company’s products depends not only on its internal processes, but also on the quality of the products purchased from the suppliers of the company, the services inherent in these purchases, in particular the transport, as well as upstream of these. The performance in terms of sustainable development therefore depends on the gradual integration of the supply chain into the CSR framework of the companies concerned. There is a need to review the procurement strategy (cost reduction, waste disposal, increased energy efficiency, conservation of resources), involving partners company suppliers.
Managing sustainable development in the purchases of companies, public bodies or local authorities can be done taking into account the total cost of acquisition which, in addition to the purchase price, includes the transport of purchased products, customs clearance, guarantees, storage costs, obsolescence, waste generated during production and at the end of life.
The commitment of a sustainable development action plan to the purchases generally answers arguments of four different natures:
a citizen argument, as a means of action to enable generations of the present to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs;
an economic argument, relating to purchasing economies that come from better product design;
a communication argument, relating to the risks on the image (reputation);
a legal argument, consisting of the response to regulatory obligations (public procurement code in the public sector in France).
The implementation of a sustainable development policy in companies depends largely on the use of company resources. These resources can be physical assets (fixed assets in the classical sense of the term), but also intangible assets (intangible assets) or simply human resources, that is to say employees and partners of the company.
The achievement of sustainable development objectives depends largely on how companies will guide the action of all these resources (employees, stakeholders, organization…). Reflections appear on new methods of estimating the financial value of companies through the notion of intangible capital.
The financial assets that are socially responsible investments (SRI) can direct the portfolios of financial securities towards assets that meet environmental, social and economic criteria. SRI has a long-term vision that is likely to perform better than companies that act in the context of short-term financial goals. According to an official definition given in July 2013 by the Forum for Responsible Investment(FIR), an association bringing together the SRI players in France, and the French Association of Financial Management (AFG), an association of actors in the business of management, “The SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) is an investment that aims to reconcile economic performance with social and environmental impact by financing companies and public entities that contribute to sustainable development regardless of their sector of activity. By influencing governance and the behavior of actors, SRI promotes a responsible economy “.
SRI is still too recent and the decline insufficient to verify it in a tangible and broad enough, but the observation of the oldest SRI funds suggests that their profitability is comparable, sometimes better than that of other funds.
It is also worth noting the development of a whole branch of finance, carbon finance, linked to greenhouse gas issues. The BlueNext project is part of this type of activity.
There is a belief that computing is “virtual” or “immaterial”. The dematerialization, which consists of passing the flow of documents between organizations from a paper information medium to an electronic information medium (this term is inappropriate, because in reality the dematerialization does not remove the fact that we use of material with an electronic information medium) is often presented, including by sustainability specialists, as an environmental benefit, as it would eliminate paper consumption. In fact, one realizes that the ” paperless ” is a myth. from the point of view of sustainable development shows that things are not so simple. In particular, this process does not improve the environmental quality of products.
The massive computerization of the economy over the past fifty years has brought us into an immaterial economy, in which the increase in computer – controlled management flows has been accompanied by a parallel increase in flows of market goods, therefore quantities of natural resources consumed, as shown by Jean-Marc Jancovici.
Reconciling sustainable development and information systems is not easy, as information systems are generally not designed for the long term. Both hardware and software are typically designed for use for a few years. On the other hand, enterprise information systems have been designed according to an essentially accounting and financial logic. They have structured themselves around general accounting, with integrated management software packages, and have long ignored the extra-financial criteria of sustainable development. The editors of ERP offering regulatory compliance offers.
Current initiatives on the application of the principles of sustainable development in computer science most often concern the hardware itself (recycling and electricity consumption). There is an international certification for equipment, TCO certification, as well as a European directive on hazardous substances, the RoHS directive. The Green IT focuses mainly on good practices on computer hardware.
More fundamentally, sustainable development poses new challenges: coping with increased knowledge, managing a new relationship with customers, and complying with increasingly complex regulations. For this, it is necessary to restructure the information systems according to a new architecture: that of the sustainable information system, combining reference data management (MDM), business rules management system (BRMS), and process management business (BPM).
The application of virtuous business processes to sustainable development raises the problem of sharing environmental and social information between companies and public administrations, as well as with their stakeholders. Regarding the application to the environmental component itself, we talk about ecoinformatics (the Americans use the term Green IT 2.0).
Current information systems are very heterogeneous and are often not designed to manage societal information. Thus, the requirements of sustainable development require the structuring of information useful for the management of the programs concerned, and more particularly for the management of data and the structuring of competence networks. The United Kingdom has put in place public regulation of environmental information. France is banking on the effect of the law on new economic regulations to regulate the economy. In general, sustainable development poses the challenge of managing a large amount of unstructured information; several methods have emerged for this: semantic web techniques based on ontologies and metadata; knowledge engineering projects; wiki systems like the Ekopedia encyclopedia, or Wikia Green.
Another crucial problem is to know what are the impacts of the race for computing power in environmental matters, and if the famous Moore’s law is truly relevant long-term. It can be seen that computers and software are generally oversized in relation to the needs, and that the constant arrival of new versions of hardware and software has the effect of reducing the amortization period of the equipment, thus generating waste.
The convergence between the Internet and sustainable development is the subject of the discussions of the TIC21 forum. The association ADOME (Association for the development of multimedia tools applied to the environment) has developed a search engine for sustainable development, Ecobase 21, composed of 70 000 links.
With the introduction of sustainable development programs in companies and agendas 21 in local and regional authorities, the question of “communication on sustainable development” emerged from 2002. In other words, how to raise awareness of sustainable development, involve professionals, and sometimes convince decision makers?
This question has partly found its answer in the creation of a sustainable development department, which is now seen as a strategic position in the company. A 1901 law Association, the Directors College Sustainable Development (C3D), helps to change the function of sustainable development manager.
Several other tracks and answers are given by professionals:
“There is no miracle communication, but a work on the duration”. In addition, it is desirable: “to involve the associations, to physically involve the citizens (festive events, citizen committees, testimonies, etc.), and to act more on the emotional, because we often convince better with festive events as scientific arguments “. Concerning eco-products and eco-services, the communication must put “simultaneously the environmental / social aspect and the ego-promises (to be in better health, to have a prettier skin, etc.)”, under pain of not convincing and not selling.
“We go from a logic of conformity to a logic of innovation”, explains Michel Rios
After Sales Service
The implementation of a sustainable development approach in the field of after-sales service usually results in a product repairability policy, which can enable the company to retain its customers and avoid planned obsolescence, source of high economic and environmental costs.
Criticism of the concept
The term “sustainable development” has been criticized for its vagueness. Luc Ferry writes: “I know that the expression is de rigueur, but I find it so absurd, or rather so vague that it says nothing determined. (…) who would like to plead for an “untenable development”! Obviously nobody! […] The expression sings more than it speaks “.
The concept meets critics on many levels. Thus, John Baden considers that the concept of sustainable development is dangerous because leading to measures to unknown and potentially harmful effects. He writes: “In economics as in ecology, interdependence reigns. Isolated actions are impossible. An insufficiently thought out policy will lead to a multiplicity of perverse and undesirable effects, both ecologically and economically.. In contrast to this notion, it defends the effectiveness of private property to encourage producers and consumers to save resources. According to Baden, “Improving the quality of the environment depends on the market economy and the presence of legitimate and guaranteed property rights”. It helps to maintain the effective exercise of individual responsibility and to develop incentive mechanisms for the protection of the environment. In this context, the state can “create a framework that encourages individuals to better preserve the environment”, by facilitating the creation of foundations devoted to the protection of the environment. ”
Some authors fear a drift towards low sustainability substitution models, which admit that natural capital is replaceable by a capital of human knowledge. American economists Pearce and Turner, for example, argue in 1990 that the degradation of natural capital is irreversible, stressing that the capacity of the environment to absorb pollution is limited.
Other authors, like Paul Ekins in 2003, belonging to the current ecological economy, emphasize the irreplaceable nature of certain natural resources, which makes natural capital not substitutable.
Sustainable development is also criticized in that it may be only a tool of northern countries against developing countries: the third world geographer, Sylvie Brunel, believes that ideas of sustainable development can serve as a screen against the protectionist ideas of the countries of the North to prevent development through trade in the South. For Sylvie Brunel, sustainable development “legitimizes a number of barriers to entry”. By offering a pretext for the protectionism of developed countries, “the feeling of sustainable development is that it serves capitalism perfectly”.
Some authors denounce a religious or irrational dimension of sustainable development. Sylvie Brunel speaks of “a marketing technique worthy of great preachers” and thus emphasizes in a conference ” Birth of a religion: sustainable development, that” sustainable development is the product of the latest globalization and all the fears it may result in “. For Claude Allègreit is a religion of nature, which has forgotten that the main concern should be the man: “The ecological mill has, unfortunately, amplified the word” sustainable “and erased the word” development “over the years. years. We claim here the respect of this requirement in its entirety. It is not because we defend nature that we can leave culture aside “.
Other thinkers still highlight the potential threats to individual freedoms that ideas, at the foundation of sustainable development, can represent. The philosopher Luc Ferry seen for example in the ideas of Hans Jonas, potentially totalitarian ideas and highlights the risks of sustainable development in this regard. This fear is also shared by many liberals: “The environment can be the pretext for a further increase of power and dangerous drifts on the part of the most power-hungry people. Even the best-intentioned people are unlikely to be able to handle the immense powers that some ecologists would like to see the guardians of the ecologically correct. ”
Proponents of degrowth consider that the term sustainable development is an oxymoron because the natural resources are finite whereas the word “development” presupposes, according to them, an ever more important exploitation, even infinite, of these resources. Thus, Serge Latouche, from an economic angle, or Jean-Christophe Mathias, from a philosophical-legal angle, criticize this concept. In the essay Cassandra’s Politics, Jean-Christophe Mathias believes that the concept of sustainable development is “schizophrenic”because it proposes to solve environmental problems by what is, according to him, the origin, namely the continuous economic growth. He considers that sustainable development, as well as the precautionary principle, is not adapted to a proactive nature protection policy because it gives priority to the economy over social and environmental issues. Serge Latouche, for his part, questions the various denominations of the concept, namely sustainable development, sustainable or bearable and concludes that development would be problematic because of the finiteness of the planet. He proposes to get out of “economics” and to organize the decay.
Other critics believe that the three dimensions – ecological, social and economic – are not enough to reflect the complexity of contemporary society. For example, in 2010 the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) approved the declaration “Culture: Fourth Pillar of Development”, the result of the work carried out within the framework of the Agenda 21 for culture.
Finally, the classic definition of sustainable development from the Brundtland Commission (1987) may be out of date for some. Indeed, it is no longer a question of aiming, as in the 1980s, for the satisfaction of the distant needs of future generations. This is the current satisfaction of needs which is now endangered by environmental and social crises facing the 21th century. According to this criticism, it is no longer a question of anticipating problems, but of solving them. Sustainable development could then give way to the notion of “desirable development” 165which brings together all economically viable solutions to the environmental and social problems facing the planet. This new mode of development, a factor of economic growth and jobs, would be a real “green economy”, based on the social and solidarity economy, ecodesign, biodegradable, bio, dematerialization, reuse and repair. – recycling, renewable energies, fair trade or relocation.
Source from Wikipedia