As we move into year 2013 on planet Earth, many of us here in the Midwest U.S. are discussing climate change with greater intensity as last year’s record setting high temperatures (hottest year on record for average temperature) and widespread drought conditions persist with little winter precipitation to date. This has both climate and weather experts speaking about and educating us on the characteristics of “winter drought”. In 2012 we witnessed the mayor of New York very publicly proclaim his belief in the impact of climate change on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. The cumulative effects and impacts of last year’s weather events may well be regarded by historians as the tipping point when the American conversation went from debating the existence of climate change to asking ourselves…how far into it are we?
Many businesses, organizations and units of government have long been putting in place plans, strategies and tactics to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on warming the planet. The most progressive of them have integrated environmental sustainability to be embraced as a core value and articulated policies guiding organization operations and working relationships with customers and stakeholders. What likely began as highly targeted efficiency improvement initiatives for economic gain have evolved into broad stroke visioning of a desired future state for the organization where “sustainability vision aligns with the organization’s overall strategic vision”.1
There are great examples, large and small, of sustainability developments happening worldwide. I like to go back and check in on one I became aware of in my community action work in Minnesota in the 1990’s. Multi-national giant 3M Corporation began in the 1970’s to put in place what is simply recognized today as 3M Sustainability. Described today on their website as “a natural extension of our values”, 3M began by establishing the 3P Program (Pollution Prevention Pays) 37 years ago that today reports measurable 3M outcomes including:
- “world-leading program has prevented 3.5 billion pounds of pollution.”
- “reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been a longtime priority for us. To date, we've cut worldwide, absolute GHG emissions 72% from 1990 - 2011. We've achieved these reductions—of gases included in the Kyoto protocol as well as others not included—through energy conservation, improvements to our manufacturing processes, and pollution control equipment.”
3M’s continuous efforts in sustainability and environmental stewardship reside at a DNA level for the corporation. There is nothing they express or do these days that is not influenced or shaped by value considerations and policy driven determinations in these regards. Harvard instructor and internationally recognized expert on business sustainability and process improvement, Dr. Robert Pojasek, would likely observe that 3M efforts have risen to the level of synthesis to “make sustainability part of the way the organization is operated instead of being run as a separate program.” 2
We’ll leave you with resources to check out:
- Download the pdf version of Dr. Pojasek’s DEVELOPING A “POSITIVE” SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY at http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic717020.files/PositiveStrategyNarrative.pdf
- View the video program Champions of Change: Corporate Environmental Sustainability (YouTube-April 2012) The White House honors seven local leaders as Champions of Change for their work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities. Honorees participate in a panel discussion on their work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wcHpycjwA0
- Review and comment on the United States Global Change Research Program’s Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report (released January,2013) at http://review.globalchange.gov/
A belated wish to all for a happy and healthy 2013!
Keep in touch and let us hear from you.
1 DEVELOPING A “POSITIVE” SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY, Robert B. Pojasek, Ph.D, Harvard University Extension School©2010.
2 DEVELOPING A “POSITIVE” SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY, Robert B. Pojasek, Ph.D, Harvard University Extension School©2010.