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Sustainability and “green economy”: a new mission for companies

As sensibility to environmental issues increases, more and more companies have recently started including environmental respect as a pillar of their business. A key part of this concept is “sustainability”, initially used during the first United Nations Conference on Environment in 1992 and defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This initial definition mainly focused on ecology, but the term has since gradually evolved and is used today with a broader meaning and includes the environment and links to the economy and society. This is how the concept of a sustainable economy is taking shape and it has become an essential parameter for every self-respecting company, regardless of the sector in which it operates. Far from having moral or utopian connotations, with the ever-growing threat of climate change, a green economy has become essential for ensuring a balance between development and the environment.

The European Commission has defined sustainability as “an economy that generates growth, creates jobs and eradicates poverty by investing and safeguarding natural capital resources on which the survival of our planet depends”. In addition to respecting specific parameters, a green economy also generates tangible benefits for both companies and society: by rethinking production models, companies are able to reduce production and disposal costs, and many businesses have also reduced waste by converting certain departments; many companies have seen an increase in sales following the implementation of green models; new jobs have also been created by adopting a green economy model, for example project managers, consultants, plant engineers and installers, with many companies hiring consultants to help reverse pollution and adapt their plants to a green economic system.

The business world is teeming with examples of reduced energy consumption, recycling and recovering materials and the adoption of circular economic models. One such example in Europe is the Italian cooperative Ènostra, an energy supplier that only sells renewable energy from photovoltaic, wind and hydroelectric plants with a guarantee of origin and only buys energy from sustainable companies and plants, preferably those linked to local communities. In this way, the cooperative promotes the growth of renewable energy shares within the national energy mix while providing its members with services to improve efficiency, construct photovoltaic plants and monitor and reduce consumption. Among its corporate objectives, Ènostra aims to create opportunities for individuals and social networks to participate and get involved in fostering an energy transition from the bottom-up. Other examples are Hydromx, a company founded in Turkey in 2000, which has developed a fluid that saves energy by reducing the time needed to heat or cool homes, helping to save on energy bills and reduce CO2 emissions; and Targa Telematics, IT company that has been developing high-tech solutions for over 20 years to allow businesses, organizations and communities to fully grasp the potential of the connectivity of things. In Scotland, ilka – specialized in graphic design, branding, communication design, strategy – is a sustainable branding and communications studio using design to positively impact humans and the environment.