Sustainability: Stop Saying it and start doing it!

By Godknows Homwe

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: COP26 sent a clear message to global corporations: adapt your business strategy to sustainability targets and earn monetary profits. If you delay, you will lose. Sustainability is a company’s strategy to create long-term value by considering how an organisation operates in the ecological, social, and economic environments. Such strategies are thought to foster firms longevity.

Efforts by Ministry of Environment in championing sustainability

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. visiting his primary Insukamini Primary School, Honorable Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu , said it was everyone’s responsibility to take care of the environment in pursuit of mitigating the impacts of climate change.

I would also like to recognize parastatals within my ministry including the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Allied Timbers, ZimParks, and Forestry Commission who are participating in tree planting at the identified schools.”

“Every child in primary school should plant a tree. This will help recover the forests being destroyed by veld fires,” Hon Ndlovu said.

Minster Dhlovu plating a lemon tree at Insukamini Primary School in Mpopoma

Speaking to this publication at the same event Allied Timbers CEO, Mr. Nenzou, also said that as much Allied Timbers is in the business of cutting trees, the company religiously plants more trees as compared to what they cut. He applauds the Minister Ndhlovu’s initiative to educate and demonstrate importance of tree planting as a way for combating climate change and building a sustainable future for the future generation.

Here are global organizations playing their part for sustainability.
  • JetBlue, an early adopter of offsetting emissions, invests forest, landfill gas capture, solar, and wind projects, in addition to offsetting its emissions. It is aligning itself with UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action) and investigating renewable aviation fuel options for its fleet.
  • Unilever and Nestlé have made substantial commitments; Unilever expects to achieve net-zero emissions from its products by 2039 and has pledged to eliminate deforestation from its products.
  • Pepsi and Coca-Cola have both set ambitious goals for reusable and refillable packaging, as well as improving water stewardship and replenishment.
  • Africa Albida Tourism as part of the group’s commitment to reduce plastic, and to minimize its carbon footprint, in 2018 launched Victoria Falls Recycling to protect the environment around one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, by recycling as much waste as possible, thereby reducing the volume of litter on the streets and going to the Victoria Falls dumpsite.

The METHI and other firms above all made strong commitments to sustainability, in large part through transparency and addressing material issues. They are embarking on a more sustainable journey, and all firms should follow suit over the next decade.

Sustainability: Two gaps to beware of

In order to address sustainability appropriately companies need to bridge two critical gaps:

• “The knowing – doing gap”: A study by BCG/MIT found that whereas 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and merely 25% have sustainability incorporated in their business model.

•“The compliance – competitive advantage gap”: More companies are seeing sustainability as an area of competitive advantage, but it is still a minority – only 24%. However, all companies need to be compliant. Management should address these topics separately, not mesh them together. Compliance is holistic, a “must do”. For competitive advantage, only a few materials issues count.

In summary, sustainability is a major challenge, one that matters beyond individual companies. But a reassuring number of large companies are developing forward-thinking sustainability policies. It is really becoming clear that sustainability is a megatrend that simply isn’t going away!

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