We’re constantly being told that we have to do our part to make this world a cleaner, greener, more sustainable environment – so businesses can grow, thrive, flourish, and last. But how does sustainability actually effect the economy? What impact does it have when we are given new targets and goals to aim for, or restrictions on what can or can’t be done?
There has recently been discussion over the CO2 targets, and how farmers may be at risk because their herds of cattle would put them over the targeted amounts, and therefore have to be reduced – which would have the knock-on effect of reducing the availability of meat and dairy products, as well as secondary products that come from the by-products and processes.
Businesses are having to innovate and make material changes to both their processes and their practices, in order to remain viable as these restrictions take place.
Sustainability does have both fiscal and economic benefits, and the changes being implemented now are designed to ensure long-term and supportable growth.
What Fiscal and Economic Benefits Does Sustainability Have?
New ways of approaching business, and more cost-effective practices can lead to increased economic activities, and the lowered costs and savings can be used to develop new areas of business (stimulating growth) or to enrich the workforce (which has the effect of increasing local industry and economic development).
Unease over rises in energy and water costs, maintenance and operation costs, and taxes can cause uncertainty in the markets, and lead to issues, but as consumer confidence in the businesses settles and levels, these areas of impact can be overcome.
When sustainable development is used to help industries grow and adapt to new challenges, it can provide protection for natural resources and increased availability of materials – which spur additional savings, revenue growth, and further economic development.
From a consumer perspective, sustainable innovations are offering a wider range of products, options, and an interest in increased spending.
There has been significant growth in the interest consumers are aiming at sustainable businesses, and the consumer consciousness is largely positively focused on those that are making sustainable changes.
Customers are generally more willing and happier to pay increased costs for goods and services which have been sustainably or ethically created – and as businesses innovate to lower wastage, reduce single use materials, and improve their products, consumer engagement has continued to grow and drive more sizeable marketing opportunities.
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What Should Economic Sustainability Be Aiming For?
The term ‘economic sustainability’ essentially refers to the practice of innovating, developing, and supporting long-term economic growth in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the community in a way that is environmental, cultural, or social.
Some of the most impactful economic sustainability approaches have focused on:
- Reducing land usage
- Making supply chains more efficient with less resources required to operate or maintain them
- Reducing harmful emissions and pollutants in every stage of the business
- Balance economic growth and opportunities with less environmental impact
Economic sustainability is supported by economic viability, environmental protection, and social equity.
There is still a long way to go in order to make it truly universal, and for businesses to be sustainable as standard – but organisations such as the UN with their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement, are bringing quantifiable and measurable standards into the mainstream, with the idea of increasing legislation and governmental engagement.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are finding that it’s in their best interest to be more sustainable and rethink the way they handle everything from production through to after service.
These changes aren’t going to happen overnight, and it will take a lot of time, money, dedication, and discussion to truly reach a sustainable situation that supports both businesses and consumers and doesn’t destroy industries who can’t keep pace with those at the front.
But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that it should be set aside. The more focus is given to sustainable innovation and working with the economy, the easier it will become for companies to change their business practices and thrive in a world that wants to see everyone doing their best, and supporting each other.