What is Sustainability? Laying Down Roots for a Strong and Healthy Future

Updated: Jul 1


The hard reality is that our planet is hurtling towards environmental breaking point despite all the talk of sustainability regulation, green investment and commitment to ESG goals and transparency. Carbon emissions rose 6% in 2021 to their highest levels ever, climate related disasters jumped 83% in the first 20 years of this century, and at least 33% of the 2bn tonnes (and growing) of solid waste generated each year is openly dumped or burnt adding more greenhouse gases and toxins in the atmosphere.


The human situation is equally stark with global income disparity comparable to a century ago - the world’s richest take 52% of income and 76% of all wealth, yet half the world’s population (the poorest) earn just 8.5% of all income and own virtually nothing with just 2% of global wealth.


“We are willfully destructive,” UN Sectretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mazutori summises. One thing is for sure - these statistics are not sustainable.


But what exactly is sustainability? It’s a term we hear on a daily basis, but what does it actually mean? And how can sustainability make the difference for your business?


Sustainability is meeting our own needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainability integrates environmental, social and economic considerations to optimize the use of finite natural resources, achieve social equity and deliver economic wellbeing.


Balance is a key theme in sustainability, as UCLA’s Sustainability Committee defines it, achieving an equilibrium between “environmental health, social equity and economic vitality in order to create thriving, healthy, diverse and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come.”


It goes without saying that we all need to embrace sustainability for a healthy future, but business has a key role in leading efforts for a more sustainable, equitable and just world. Customers (58%), employees (60%) and investors (64%) all hold business accountable and seek alignment on beliefs and value according to Edelman – the opportunity is for business to lead in delivering real impact for both society and the environment.


Whilst sustainability demands leaders respond to a planet sized crisis and provide for an inclusive and just future, there are financial benefits within the biggest opportunity of the century - a sustainability market worth $12tr and creating 380m+ jobs by 2030, where climate-focused innovation powers returns of 70%-80%. It may be about our shared survival, but the numbers really do add up.


Climate aware and socially responsible consumers are increasingly and loudly demanding companies they purchase from address their values – almost 90% of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay 10% or more for sustainable products, and they are exerting their influence over their Gen X parents and others to do the same.


Sustainability is achieving tangible and inclusive prosperity for all whilst protecting our planet, putting the social and environmental at the forefront of everything a business does and so building a world fit for all our Gen Z children and their children to inherit.


As you consider what sustainability means for you and your business and how to deliver social and environmental value throughout the organization, it is worth considering:


  • It is not enough to know sustainability is important, what’s needed is action to address “the knowing-doing gap” - 90% of executives believe sustainability is important, but only 25% of companies have incorporated it into their strategies.

  • 360˚ Sustainability is an integrated approach to incorporating people and planet at the heart of an organisation’s purpose, strategy, operations and culture - this delivers impact, resilience and long-term viability to the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Sustainability is vital for your business – a healthy commercial future depends on delivering value for people and planet, ensuring your competitive advantage, resilience and prosperity.

  • Every business can achieve “quick wins” that deliver sustainability gains right now, even if your net zero goal is years down the road and skills training is needed for your employees to adapt and innovate.


At Futuretivity we deliver sustainability to businesses, with actionable roadmaps to achieving your goals. Talk to us about what sustainability means for you and discover how your business can prosper delivering positive impact for people and the plant.



Futuretivity delivers climate positivity with vibrant, socially impactful commercial power. We recognise that the how-to of sustainability can be overwhelming, so we empower businesses with actionable roadmaps, skills for the future and meaningful connections to succeed. Being a conscious business needn’t cost the earth nor cost your business.


For more inspiration and insights on sustainability for business go to futuretivity.com/resources If you are a company that needs help with sustainability in your business book a call with Futuretivity now and get sustainability delivered.


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