Sustainability Project Management (SPM) PART 3

11. 9. 2017

There is a growing recognition of the contributions of culture and the arts to finding creative solutions for global challenges.

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2.4 Culture and Sustainability Project management

There is a growing recognition of the contributions of culture and the arts to finding creative solutions for global challenges. Both civil society and governmental stakeholders are beginning to acknowledge the transversal nature of culture and consequently, its value to sustainable development, environment, education, health and social cohesion, among other fields. In its role as a catalyst, culture can contribute to a better quality of life.

The emergence of debate on the environment has attracted attention regarding a possible contradiction between promoting free markets and meeting domestic environmental objectives. In particular, there has been a concern for environmental degradation in the process of growth and globalization, since damage to the environment is thought by some to be linked to increased economic activity. Given the interdependent and trans-boundary nature of collective exhaustible and renewable natural resources, environmental issues are subtler. The popular view among the environmental NGOs based on the pollution-haven hypothesis posits that trade liberalization, open markets, increased foreign direct investment and multinational corporations (MNCs,hereafter) will encourage the flow of low-technology and polluting industries to developing countries and trigger a 'race to the bottom' in environmental standards. (Xing and Kolstad, 2002), Goldsmith (1997), Gersh (1999), and Tonelson (2000).

Grossman and Krueger (1995) examined a closely related, and perhaps broader, question asking whether economic growth itself harms the environment. They found an inverted U-shaped relationship between income growth and environmental conditions. That is, environmental conditions, such as air pollution and contamination, seem to worsen with increases in income in low-income countries, and appear to benefit from economic growth once some critical level of income has been reached. This result is often called the Environmental Kuznet Curve (EKC, hereafter) phenomenon in the literature. The EKC has been examined by many researchers and found to be far from universal, it appears for some pollutants and not others; for some groups of countries and not others; and for some econometric-technique/data combinations and not others; one potential caveat in these studies is that they fail to account for the effect of culture. It can be reasonably conjectured that the will and ability to protect the environment are influenced by intra-country socio-cultural factors. If people are more culturally conscious of environmental conditions, a higher level of environmental sustainability can be maintained, and if environmental damages occur, they can be restored more quickly. In this scenario, national culture is expected to influence how people utilize their natural resources and environments by shaping their attitudes and perceptions. Herein lays the importance of empirically determining the significance of national culture on environmental conditions. Despite this, however, a majority of the relevant work on this issue in the literature has been anecdotal and descriptive.

The number of studies have discussed and theorized the link between national culture and environmental conditions. Cohen and Nelson (1994) propose that the mechanism of a link between culture and the environment must be the impact of culture on normative ethical beliefs regarding what is morally correct behavior. These beliefs are reflected in common business practices, government regulation of business activity, and are widely held perceptions of acceptable business conduct within a given society. This suggests that the perception of environmentally responsible behavior can be significantly different across countries. In a similar vein, Gorham (1997) argued that cultural factors operate at various levels: through the policies of sovereign states, public and private agencies that serve the policies, and the public officials who are directly responsible for how the policies are carried out. This view is consistent with Elgin (1994), who suggested that we may not be able to make any material changes required to achieve environmental sustainability if we fail to reach beneath physical challenges and confront problems at a much deeper level in our culture and consciousness.

Taking a slightly different tack, and using somewhat different language, other researchers have focused on the relationship between culture and environment in the context of the relation between social/human and natural capital. The notion is that social/human capital, the social bonds, norms, and values in a society, are important to environmental sustainability because they, in part, determine the nature of the society's relationship to its environment, its natural capital. In this regard, researchers have investigated the relationship between connectedness among people and the environmental condition in a society. Cernea (1993), Narayan and Pritchett (1996), and Ward (1998).

In particular, Etzioni (1995) found that, in a society demonstrating a high level of social/human capital, members would balance their own rights with collective responsibilities such as managing their natural resources. Kellert (1996) observed that there is significant cross cultural variability in people's attitudes about nature and its conservation. For example, he argues that the Japanese people lack interest in wild nature and ecological processes and demonstrate limited support for wildlife conservation and protection, while Germans subscribe to more pronounced ecological values and exhibit a greater willingness to maintain pristine nature and protect wild life. More recently, Pretty and Ward (2001) extensively investigated this issue and concluded that social and human capitals (embedded in a culture) are prerequisites for the improvement of natural capital (environment).

Another set of researchers has paid more attention to other elements of culture, in particular levels of trust and spirituality, because they believe these facilitate cooperation and reduce transaction costs. When a society is infested by distrust, cooperative efforts among different types of people, which are necessary in managing public resources such as the environment, are not likely to happen. Kinsley (1995) claimed that there is a profound relationship between religious spirituality and the ecological condition of a society.


Business is the production of goods or services to the customers in exchange for other services, goods, or money. Sustainable development is a new way for people to use resource before they're running out; it's the development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For the business community, sustainable development is extremely important and more than a window-dressing as the companies can compete by adopting sustainable practices in order to increase both; shareholder value and their markets. There are two important parts of a business model which are production and marketing. The success of the business models for sustainable development can be determined by disparate factors; trade-offs among different sustainable development goals and the ongoing monitoring and evaluation need to be built in to the business model. The road to implementing a sustainable development philosophy will be different for smaller businesses, but with ingenuity, perseverance and cooperation, they can achieve the desired result. To uncover the real business solution for sustainable development, companies are required to come across ways to link opportunity with responsibility. They must turn their attention from eliminating negatives to creating positives and progress, not by looking for market-based Solutions, but by seeing the market itself as a solution. Business executives and project managers should evolve from viewing the value of sustainability as removing the risk from business, to seeking sustainability as their business.

Finally, the most important reason why sustainable development issues are related to project management is because business is a double-edged weapon, it is a part of the solution and a part of the problem. Project management is universally defined as an important engine for economic growth needed to overcome poverty. It also could be the determining factor in some environmental issues. For example, if business projects hadn’t be able to decrease the amount of ozone-depleting substances, they would have been five times higher by 2050 (Aloisi, 2009).

In the end it is apparent that corporate prosperity is dependent upon how successful project is at achieving sustainable development. In addition to achieving corporate welfare, sustainable development also constitute an ethical duty that must be exerted by the present generations for the wellbeing of future generations as well.


  • Sustainability Project management (SPM),
  • The sustainable development goals (SDGs),
  • Life Cycle Analysis (LCA),
  • World Commission on Economic Development (WCEB),
  • The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI),
  • Global Leaders for Tomorrow (GLT),
  • The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP),
  • The Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
  • The actual state of the nation's environmental system (ESYSTEM)
  • The amount of environmental stress (ESTRESS),
  • Human vulnerability (HUMVUL),
  • Social and institutional capacity to cope with environmental challenges (SOCINT)


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