Sustainability Project Management (SPM) PART 1

11. 1. 2017

A business is a firm or an agency that provide goods to customers and which in need for their product. Also, it is an exchange process between goods, services, or money to meet certain economic and social objectives, so it mainly depends on physical and financial capital.

Author: Amr Sukkar 


A business is a firm or an agency that provide goods to customers and which in need for their product. Also, it is an exchange process between goods, services, or money to meet certain economic and social objectives, so it mainly depends on physical and financial capital. However, the economic activity must not to damage or harm the human and natural resources that highlights the dependence of business on human and natural resources in a process called sustainable development (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 1992). In other words; the business is the production of goods or services to the customers in exchange for other services, goods, or money. Both of particular organization or market sector can be referred by business. When many persons are working in one company; they are making business to produce a specific service or good in a good manner in order to raise their company in the market and reach for the leading and to be one of the most important companies in its field (Grant, 2007). There are several types of businesses, private which is owned by someone and provides goods in exchange for a profit, and not for profit business which has a specific goal. According to Stephenson “business is the regular production or purchase and sale goods undertaken with an objective of earning profit and acquiring wealth through the satisfaction of human needs”. Which leaves us to that the term business has a goal which achieving wealth and gain profit by satisfying what others need by offering them what they need in an exchange of profit. So if you are looking to make a good business you need to consider the following; According to Gauravakrani (2011), business is the exchange of goods and services while dealing with numerous transactions and your profit is your main objective, and you need to possess some skills and consider the risks and uncertainties. According to Steven (2013) there are few basics of ownership of a business, first is the solo trader; which is owned by one person for the sake of their own benefit, which consist by dealing with other sole trader or dealing by himself, second is the partnership; which is a business ran by two or more people in which they can be a profitable firm or a non-profit firm, thirdly a corporation; which consists of owners with limited liability and can be owned by the government or privately, and at last but not least the cooperative also known as “co-op” which can also be for a profit or non-profit but differs from the corporation that it has members that share decisions and authority.

Sustainability of a business is the continuous accomplishment of the goals planned for this generation with solving any faced problem in the future of the next generation. Doing so will help in achieving a stable business that will go on for long period of time. Sustainability is one of the most important factors in a successful any business project (Amato, Henderson, & Florence, 2009). The term “sustainable development” was first made popular by the WCEB, also known as the World Commission on Economic Development. The WCEB defined sustainable development as “development action targeted for meeting the needs of the present without hindering future generations from fulfilling their own needs”. The WCEB stated that in order to realize sustainable development, adoption of environmental, economic and equity principles is necessary. Such a statement was, then, highly questioned due to the old prejudice that caring for the environment and establishing social equity go against making money (Bansal, 2005). Overtime corporations began to show commitment to achieving sustainable development and integrate it with their projects (Rondinelli et al., 2000).

As for the sustainable, accordingly to elkington, (1994) it is one that operates in an environmentally responsible way. Its products, business and project management processes are such that no negative environmental impact is felt as a result of their existence. The details of sustainable business lie in chemistry and material science, ecology and environmental science. The reality of achieving sustainable operations lies largely with project managers of today and tomorrow. Few businesses or organizations can truly call themselves 100% sustainable. Many, however, are well on their way to sustainability as a result of incorporating the following ideals into their projects operations. These are the businesses that The Evergreen Group wants to work with to help them sell, value and grow. We also want to work with prospective buyers who want to buy a sustainable business or a business that could become sustainable with transformational changes. 

Sustainable development is defined as the process to reach a steady state where both humanity and nature thrive. The objective is to achieve satisfied basic needs for all humans in balance with a healthy natural environment.

To succeed with this, a global management process for sustainable development is needed. The management process should lead social and economic transformations that optimize production as well as distribution of the outcome, without jeopardizing the potential for similar benefits in the future. The management process should also ensure a stabilization of the global population level. Management processes are needed on the personal, organizational and societal levels. Why should an organization pursue sustainability Shriberg (2000) summarizes three reasons to begin the journey toward sustainability.

  1. Morality and intergenerational equity to live only on what is available without borrowing from future generations of people or biota is morally desirable.
  2.  Survival: the stresses we are currently placing on ecosystems are too large for the continued wellbeing of any organism. Therefore, in the long run, sustainable development is a prerequisite to survival and prosperity on this planet.
  3.  Organisational benefits and risks: by embracing sustainability, an organization positions itself as a first‐mover by not embracing sustainability, organizations face consequences in terms of increased economic and social liability.

Lise Kingo, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, said “For companies, successful implementation of the Sustainability development growths will strengthen the environment for doing business and building markets around the world. The case is clear for companies to get involved by doing business responsibly and pursuing opportunities to solve global challenges through innovation, investment and collaboration.”

Figure (1): sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.
Figure (1): sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

Sustainable development requires both widespread economic prosperity and shared environmental concern (WCED, 1987).

Sustainability as a major distinction between techno-centric and eco centric positions, representing two main directions that quite often, at least in the short term, are in conflict with each other. The categories of sustainability can be further divided into very weak, weak, strong and very strong (Hediger, 1999).

A third dimension, representing societal focus with elements such as equitably distributed level of wellbeing and equal opportunities, supplements the weak and strong parts of sustainability. Several authors describe this triple bottom line or division of focus on economic prosperity, social equity and environmental (1998), Topfer (2000) and Walker (2000).

Very weak sustainability requires that general production capacity of the economy should be maintained intact so that per capita consumption is constant over time (Hediger, 1999). It is also classified as resource exploitative and implying an increase in GNP (Edgeman, 2000).

Weak sustainability can be described as the philosophy that all types of capital are equivalent and that there is a perfect or near perfect substitutability between natural capital and man‐made capital. It requires the summed value of aggregated economic activity and environmental quality to be maintained over time. Intergenerational and intergenerational equity are emphasized. Ecological and biogeochemical processes that are irrecoverable if lost (critical natural capital) must be safeguarded (Compton et al., 1998).

Strong sustainability requires that development or regeneration of renewable natural resources matches or exceeds depletion of non‐renewable natural resources (Edgeman, 2000).

Very strong sustainability requires that the quantity of natural capital should increase or at least be maintained constant. Reduction of resources consumption is needed (Edgeman, 2000). The goal is a stationary state limiting human scale activities to zero population growth and zero economic growth safe minimum sustainability standards (Hediger, 1999).

Conclusion: The examination of the literature uncovers that project management standards are tended to in a constrained way in particular researches on sustainability, and no particular researches on project management were discovered that address issues of natural item advancement and ecological sustainability. The contextual analysis shows that ecological necessities meddle with project management, so making new difficulties for the project members. This investigation uncovers that the hole distinguished between the two zones of information can be considered as a missing connection that, if filled, could upgrade the adequacy of ecological in the item project management. This new connection would supplement the current ecological approaches that emphasis on specialized apparatuses and organizational angles by presenting unique and helpful rules for sustainability project management (Brones & Zancul 2014).


2.1  Responsibilities and Sustainable development

D’Amato et al. (2009) explained that in order for a business to be sustainable, the business should be a part of the society. The business has obligations to both the cooperation and the community.  Some organizations isolate themselves from any responsibilities toward society and environment. On the other hand, some have impact that is beyond the boundaries of the organization. Most organizations are somewhere in between.

According to White & Carpente, (2004), it is possible to link developed world markets to developing world needs. P&G Company with the assist of UNICEF helped to fight tuberculosis in West Africa. P&G paid for a TB vaccine to be sent by UNICEF where it was most needed, for each bottle of product purchased. This project was in Spain and Portugal, and twice in the UK, and in total delivered 11 million TB vaccines, while constructing P&G’s business and sustainability.

Sustainable development is very important process that must be included into business planning and measurement methods in order to achieve their targets. Therefore, business leaders defined sustainable development as the improving of business strategies and activities to achieve the enterprise needs while protecting and promoting the human and natural resources needed in the future. It is, also, considered as a philosophy that must be subscribed in the global economy by every participant to meet today’s needs without affecting the capability of future generations to meet theirs (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 1992).

Bansal, (2005) has stated that for a firm to achieve sustainable development it must first fulfil all the three basic principles. In add Elkington (1998) stated that sustainable development can only be achieved by applying three basic principles which are environmental integrity, economic prosperity, and social equity

Environmental integrity through corporate environmental management; The environmental integrity principle guarantees that the ecosystem i.e. land, air and water are not harmed by any human activities .It is perceived that the ecosystem has a very limited regenerative ability; therefore, human-related events such as population growth and pollution compromise the integrity of the environment. Therefore, if the natural environment is ,by any means, threatened or compromised then the basic resources necessary for human life such as food and water will be threatened as well (Bansal, 2005). Corporate environmental management is an approach made by firms to reduce a firm’s ecological footprint, that is the impact of its production processes on the environment such as waste and carbon emissions (Bansal,2005) Such management can be achieved by “Pollution Control “and Product stewardship. Pollution control refers to the proper disposal of wastes by a company; while, Product stewardship refers to using fewer materials for product design and proper recycling and reuse of products at the end of their life (Hart, 1995).

The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), also known as the Brundtland Commission, defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Since the 1992 Earth Summit, the objective of much work on environmental policy has been to refine and make operational this notion of sustainability. In a particularly ambitious effort in this direction, the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) was developed by the joint efforts of World Economic Forum's Global Leaders for Tomorrow (GLT) Environmental Task Force, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP), and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) (Global Leaders of Tomorrow, 2001). The index rests on a set of 67 underlying variables. These variables are combined into 22 'indicators'; each indicator reflecting two to six of the variables. These indicators are then divided into five core 'components' of environmental sustainability:

  1. The actual state of the nation's environmental system (ESYSTEM)
  2. The amount of environmental stress (ESTRESS)
  3. Human vulnerability (HUMVUL)
  4. Social and institutional capacity to cope with environmental challenges (SOCINT)
  5. The ability to respond to and join in global stewardship (GLBSTEW).
  6. Finally, the ESI is derived as a composite value based on the above five major components.

Social equity through corporate social responsibility; the social equity principle guarantees that all members in a society have equal opportunities and equal access to resources. The WCED document released in 1987 stated that sustainability is a universal goal implying that all members of future generations, members of developing and developed countries alike, have the right to equal access to resources (Bansal, 2005).

Corporate social responsibility encompasses three processes; environmental assessment, stakeholder management, and social issues management (Wood, 1991).Environmental assessment involves the identification of social, economic, and environmental issues and responding to them accordingly (Bansal, 2005). Stakeholder management involves responding to individuals outside organizations as well as responding to the natural environment (Starik, 1995). On the other hand, social management refers to tackling social issues, for instance, the decision not to employ children as labor (Hillman et al., 2001)

Economic prosperity through value creation; the economic prosperity principle endorses an adequate quality of life through organizations and individual members in society. Economic prosperity calls for the creation and distribution of goods that will most likely elevate the quality of life around the world in addition to the establishment of open and competitive markets that endorse efficiency, wealth creation and innovation. It was found that economic prosperity is heavily linked to social equity and environmental integrity. For instance, to meet basic such as food and shelter, people tend to compromise the long-term health of the natural environment in the process where it is estimated that millions of hectares of forest areas are annihilated annually for the production of fuels, wood and fertile land for agriculture. Therefore, it is perceived that a society which fails to realize economic prosperity will eventually compromise the health and wellbeing of its individuals (Bansal, 2005).

A firm can create value via their own products and goods (Bowman et al., 2000).A firm can create value through the production of novel and different products desired by consumers; thereby, elevating the effectiveness of their products which can be achieved by decreasing input costs or achieving production efficiencies (Bansal, 2005) .A firm can “capture the value it creates by selling their goods or services at prices that at least exceed their costs (Bowman et al., 2000)

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