Sustainability is process of efficient resource utilization in order to create capacity for re-use by future generations, (Freedman, 2010). Many sustainable efforts have been developed in order to ensure that natural resources are used in a way that creates re-use. More emphasis has been placed on green energy and this allows adoption of environmentally clean fuel sources for example geothermal energy and solar energy. Green energy is credited for creation of pollution free environment thus protecting the environment from destruction. As show in the diagram below, sustainability involves interaction that creates mutual benefit while preserving the environment.
This paper will focus on analysis of approaches that are directed towards creation of sustainability. The paper covers the sustainability efforts by General Motors and Royal Dutch Shell Companies in creating and promoting sustainability.
McDonald's is one of the leading fast-food retailers in the globe operating in over 100 countries around the world through a franchise mode. Being a food company, its activities have a direct impact on the environment as well as on the general population, in terms of its supply and disposal chains.
Owing to the magnitude of its operations, and the impact that these operations have on the entire globe, McDonald's makes an interesting case study for sustainability issues.
McDonald's does not provide a forthright definition of its interpretation of the term sustainability. Nonetheless, in its latest CSR and sustainability report, there are indicators of what sustainability is all about to McDonald's. For instance, in his message to the stakeholder's and investor's whom the report is intended for, the CEO, Don Thompson, comments that
“We are committed to working toward a tomorrow where quality food and balanced choices are accessible and affordable to all.
Where the food we serve is sustainably sourced from thriving farms. Where environmental protection and efficiency are universal. Where people from all walks of life are valued for their unique contributions to a shared global community. And, where every restaurant is more than an address on a map—it's part of the local neighborhood.” (McDonald's 2014, p. 4).
This statement from the CEO captures the five priority areas that McDonald's underpins as its pillars when it comes to sustainability. These are sustainable sourcing, people, planet, community and food. When one analyzes the above quote from the CEO, it is clear that each of these priority areas is captured. Moreover, it is clear that there is a commitment to the future. Thus, for McDonald's, sustainability is not just about ensuring that there are adequate resources for future generations. Rather, it is about making a commitment to ensuring a future where such resources are accessible and affordable to these future generations.
Another outstanding feature about sustainability at McDonald's is its recognition of differing needs of its clients. As mentioned earlier, McDonald's operates in over 100 countries. McDonald's recognizes that the needs of its clients in each of these markets differ and as such[McD141], it strives to deliver an option that satisfies the specific needs of the clients in a particular market. Moreover, McDonald has also made a commitment to become more than just a shop. As captured in the CEO's message, it intends to ensure that rather than just being a physical address, it wants to become a part of the local neighborhood. To McDonald, this means integrating its activities to correspond to the needs of the people in that particular market. Moreover, this also means tailoring its CSR activities so that they are specific to the needs of the local population.
It is clear where the focus of sustainability efforts for McDonald's lies. This is around the areas of its operations. Being a food company, it relies on inputs from the environment (planet) for food. Moreover, it relies on local communities and people for labor and for its market. Finally, it must sustainably source its food inputs, fully recognizing that such sustainable practices in sourcing will ensure a brisk future for the organization.
The example of McDonald's provides a sustainability view that can be understood from a corporate point of view. From breakdown of the core priority areas, one can conclude that sustainability efforts are aimed at ensuring the company has a future. This is by safeguarding the key inputs as well as its key source of revenue. The example of Austin City government is therefore an appropriate one, since being a government entity, it is non-profit. As such, it s interesting to understand what sustainability means to them, when such sustainability does not necessarily contribute to increased profitability or enhanced lifetime of the organization.
Government entities can contribute to reductions in carbon emissions in more than just the direct ways. They can contribute indirectly, by providing incentives that encourage innovations that are more environmentally conscious. Furthermore, the government can develop policies that encourage individuals to undertake activities which lead to reduced emissions. For example, they can enact policies that encourage people to use public vehicles.
This would lead to less personal vehicles on the road leading to lower levels of carbon emission in the transportation grid. Governments can also exercise coercive power to deter individuals from engaging in practices that exacerbate carbon emissions. Furthermore, by taking to the forefront, the government can encourage others to participate, since they will be able to perceive the benefits associated with such measures, by associating them with government entities.
The government of Austin has developed the Green Business leaders initiative. This initiative encourages individuals to take up an active role in greening their businesses. Businesses are appraised using a scorecard[AusNd], and businesses that score well are recognized and promoted. For example, a member at the Gold Leaders level may upon appraisal be promoted to the Platinum Leaders status. This encourages businesses to actively engage in greening activities. Furthermore, the government of Austin facilitates the development of projects that incorporate green roofs. This is because such projects have the opportunity to earn incentives[AutNd]. This encourages developers to add a green roof, which has benefits such as natural cooling, reducing energy demands for cooling. By developing policies that reward environmentally conscious innovations, the government encourages individuals to exert efforts towards such innovation.
Austin targets to become the leader of all cities in the nation in the fight against climate change. Thus, to Austin city, sustainability is mainly aimed at mitigating climate change and its effects. In the development of its policy documents and climate protection plans, it involves its climate program staff as well as city staff. In its efforts to become the leading city in the reduction of the negative effects of global warming, Austin identifies five priority areas. These are municipal operations, energy generation planning, energy efficiency, community-wide emissions and carbon neutrality assistance.
Sustainability is a broad terms that has an impact on everybody, and businesses. Sustainability efforts are directed towards efficient resource utilization and it is a process that strives to achieve preservation of life and heritage. Sustainability efforts cut across all areas of professional life, from engineering to marketing. Many companies have joined efforts in the process of sustainability it research has shown that sustainability is a profitable venture since it affects the choice of investors as to whether to invest in certain companies. There are widespread efforts by governmental entities, non-governmental entities as well as corporate towards sustainable development. Most of these efforts usually have to do with environmental conservation and in many cases; they target a variety of stakeholders. In the above two cases, the organizations discussed have gone out of their way to ensure sustainability in the activities they engage.