Before we consider what is a Sustainability Solution we need to explain what the authors mean by the term “Sustainability“.
The notion of sustainable development was defined by the Brundtland Commission, a subsidiary body of the United Nations in 1987. It was defined as:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
This has been extended for enterprises to develop sustainable strategies in the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) model (see diagram above). This model recognises the importance of delivering sustainable economic value to shareholders, by focusing on the bottom line profit that is generated. It also considers that if an enterprise is to be sustainable in the longer term, it needs to consider its performance in terms of the equivalent environmental and social “bottom lines”.
The adoption of sustainable business models requires enterprises to move away from making investment decisions based solely on narrow metrics of financial value. Instead, they need to focus on creating long term value for their key stakeholders, e.g. consumers, employees and investors, by including a consideration of environmental and social impacts in combination with the traditional economic measures.
It is the adoption of this Triple Bottom Line approach that characterises the development of a sustainable enterprise. This Triple Bottom Line is often summarised as a co-ordinated business strategy that ensure that the enterprise aligns its goals with positive outcomes for People (social), Profit (economic) and the Planet (environmental).