Sustainability - The concept
I think that everyone nowadays can relate to the concept sustainability. However, many people tend to forget some parts of the concept. Sustainability includes three different dimensions that all needs to be considered if we should talk about the concept correctly, and that’s of course the idea. Sustainability means “the development satisfying the needs of today without compromising the needs in the future”. The three dimensions are economic, social and environmental sustainability and i will describe them one by one creating understanding of the complexity of the concept.
As early as 1952 the first method to create a diverse portfolio of funds and stocks was established by the economic Harry Markowitz. With this method the idea was to evaluate funds and companies and their future performance by looking at the past and consider recent events affecting the company. Selecting a diverse portfolio is a great step towards economic sustainability. Historically, there has been focus on the economic sustainability making sure that shareholders (investors) are satisfied and that a company can protect its survival.
This dimension of sustainability is connected to the society and the individuals within. Decision makers has a responsibility managing the issues of society, including equality, power, rights and the well-being of the individuals. Traditionally, the society included the locals or the nation but now the dimension is growing and the perspective becomes more and more global. The main reason for this is that almost every company produces their products in other countries, often far away which makes it harder to control these issues while working with sustainability. In a social sustainable society people have faith in each other and individuals have the rights to take part in the development of society.
According to my understanding this is the dimension that many people connect to sustainability. The reason for this might be that the issues of the environment and the focus on sustainability became relevant around the same time. However, this is just a third of the concept. This dimension includes natural resources and how we use the global assets. A sustainable way to handle this is to make sure that future generations have the same possibilities as we do regarding natural assets. We need to make sure that we´re not a burden for the planet.
All these three dimensions are relevant to consider for companies and governments as well as for the individuals. By making responsible choices, individuals can influence the markets in a broader perspective than one could imagine. In further blogs i will sometimes refer to the concept of sustainability and the three dimensions and how we can relate to them as a company and as individuals.