Managing Sustainable Development; Sound Planning and a Buy-In by All Managers Are Essential to the Success of a Sustainable Development Strategy, Writes Professor David Brooksbank of UWIC

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Byline: David Brooksbank

Establishing sustainable development objectives, systems and monitoring mechanisms requires leadership on the part of senior management and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Indeed, without the active involvement of the board of owner and directors, it will be difficult for any organisation to implement sustainable business practices. It is important that corporate sustainable development policies be implemented consistently throughout an organisation.

Too many businesses have variable levels of corporate ethics and integrity, depending on the context in which they are operating and this double standard is inconsistent with the concept of sustainable development; ensuring that it does not prevail is an important role of management.

The board also has a role in monitoring the implementation of its policies. It should receive regular reports on how the policies are implemented, and should be accountable to its stakeholders on the company's performance against these policies.

The first step for businesses in adopting sustainable development principles is to assess their current position. Management should know the degree to which the company's activities line up with sustainable development principles.

This requires evaluating the company's overall strategy, the performance of specific operations, and the effect of particular activities. This process should compare the company's current performance with the expectations

of the stakeholders.

Once managers have gained an understanding of how its own operations shape up, they should gauge the performance of other comparable organisations.

Comparisons against the standards set by other industries and environmental groups can be instructive and management should then consider ways to narrow the gap between the current state of the company's performance and its objectives for the future.

A strategy will need to be developed, outlining where the company hopes to position itself relative to its competitors and its stakeholders' expectations.

A general plan is needed to describe how and when management expects to achieve that goal, together with the various milestones it will reach along the way. …