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Sustainability is frequently misunderstood as simply environmental sustainability; nevertheless, it is much more than that, and the three pillars of sustainability are the critical framework for understanding it! Furthermore, adhering to these three key components provides for better resource stewardship and a lower chance of human suffering resulting from neglected areas of development.
The three pillars of sustainability are society, environment, and economy, initially highlighted in the Brundtland report in 1987. Sustainable development is founded on those three pillars because it can only be realized when safeguarding the environment, social equality, and financial viability coexist without one taking precedence over the others. According to this definition, the three pillars of sustainable development interact simultaneously.
The environmental pillar of sustainable development includes rules, legislation, and other tools for dealing with ecological facts and issues such as land, freshwater, the seas, forests, air, natural resources, and wildlife management. This pillar entails direct environmental management, such as planting and protecting oxygen-producing trees, as well as adopting measures on the human-consuming side.
Environmental management entails using ecological science and conservation biology to manage the distribution of resources such as land, water, and emissions at a high level to establish a sustainable future. This method also considers ecosystem resilience and the ability of ecosystems to absorb disruptions induced by human activity.
The other method is to manage the demand side of human-generated resources. This includes stuff like:
These are only a few examples of environmental sustainability. Fortunately, as ecological consciousness grows, we may find more and more of these instances in our daily lives, helping to lessen our environmental impact.
Initiatives, governmental policies, plans, and legislation promoting social issues are called the social pillar. Defending poverty, social justice, peace, fostering diversity, quality of life, availability of medical care, schooling, building communities, preserving culture and heritage, and various aspects of religion are among them.
Unfortunately, this is the least defined and understood compared to sustainability’s ecological and economic pillars. The social component, on the other hand, influences all human actions and, as such, is inextricably tied to the economic and environmental dimensions of long-term sustainability and development that are sustainable.
More specifically, the following are the main features of this sort of sustainability:
The economic pillar of sustainability is critical to the business’s existence: a company must be economically viable to be sustainable. At the same time, a profitable business should view profitability as one component of its overall strategy. In other words, “profit” could also refer to the economic pillar of sustainability. A responsible business leader aiming for sustainability should promote a more balanced culture in which social and environmental considerations are considered alongside profitability and economic sustainability. It is critical to remember the planet’s resource limits, especially given that the current economic paradigm is still built on “infinite” exponential development.
Unfortunately, the limited resources available in the environment are frequently overlooked: this is the fundamental issue encountered when attempting to establish long-term economic sustainability. Long-term economic expansion is impossible if all accessible natural resources are depleted.
The capitalist system founded on the free market is a fantastic weapon for lowering the living standards of Western nations; however, this does not consider our planet’s constraints, or, more accurately, it is only once it is too late. For example, a firm that uses resources that are not renewable or even an open-pit mining operation is penalized, and the damage done is somehow passed on to the collective; as a result, the price of their final product is unaffected by their unsustainable procedures. The company needs an immediate economic incentive to adopt more sustainable practices.
One solution is to employ government rules to include the cost of environmental damage in the pricing. This can be accomplished by taxation and incentives: the government can tax unsustainable practices, such as emissions or excessive trash discharged into the environment, while subsidizing more virtuous enterprises.
Another research issue is the possibility of divorcing economic expansion from environmental damage. As a result, GDP growth only sometimes implies an increase in strain on biodiversity and natural systems. This, of course, necessitates taking a longer-term view of economic activity and harnessing current technology. Still, at the moment, while doable in some circumstances, it isn’t easy to achieve on a global scale.
The term “sustainability” is frequently used with environmental preservation projects. Initially, it referred to three distinct sectors known as all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. The three sustainability pillars are essential for better understanding sustainability and how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle; these are used as a reference to build other models, such as the six Rs of sustainability. The three pillars of sustainability are significant because they provide a framework for assessing the sustainability of an organization, business, product, or service. This can also assist the organization’s operational costs in the long run.
ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, a relatively new standard used by a rising number of institutional investors to assess the sustainability efforts of firms and governments. The three sustainability pillars are critical for ESG since they form the framework’s foundation used to generate ESG investment indicators. While earlier models primarily considered a company’s economic performance, ESG evaluation considers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and financial. This means that a company will be evaluated on more than just its balance sheet but also its long-term sustainability of the three pillars. Gender diversity, job equality, how the company manages its carbon footprint, the use of energy from renewable sources, safety concerns, management sustainability promises, and much more are all part of this. As you might expect, ESG is also essential for green technology startups and companies seeking funding from institutional investors.
Sustainability is frequently divided into three main groups: social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability. These three sustainability types are collectively called the “three pillars of sustainability.” The three pillars of sustainability give a framework for addressing complex sustainability concerns such as fisheries management. The three pillars are significant because they aid in understanding sustainability and serve as a model for standards and certifications to assess the sustainability of organizations, countries, products, and services. More broadly, the triple bottom line model can be applied whenever we want to determine the long-term sustainability of virtually anything! When doing so, it is critical to determine whether the three pillars are in balance or whether one is overly dominating. To attain sustainability, all three principles must be met.
Q1. Who created the three pillars of sustainability?
The Brundtland Report, Agenda 21, and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development have all been cited as the origins of the ‘three-pillar’ concept.
Q2. What are the five P’s of sustainability?
The 17 SDGs are organized around the five pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships. These 5 Ps demonstrate how the SDGs are an interconnected framework rather than a collection of individual goals.
Q3. What is the purpose of sustainability?
Sustainable living practices help reduce pollution while conserving natural resources such as water and electricity. Businesses and individuals who care about sustainability are also less likely to infringe on the natural habitats of wild animals, helping to maintain our planet’s biodiversity.