Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sustainability and a Green Focus

The top issue with MBAs and other business leaders today is the idea of sustainability (Wikipedia article authored Jan 8, 2009) coupled with corporate responsibility. Although, MBAs are currently highlighting this area as important, it lacks a definition which is meaningful as actionable advice.

I would propose that the most base definition of sustainability should relate directly to energy capture and consumption. However, since products cannot simply be arbitraged nor modeled directly as energy consumption, there are many other aspects which must be considered: carbon emissions, land use, natural resource extraction rates etc.

It is quite obvious that anything which is consumed and not replaced is in an inherently unstable relationship. Currently, companies such as Monsanto are working "diligently" in order to increase the yields of products we consume (in Monsanto's case, GMO food products) as a solution to assuage the strain and diminishing return of our resources. However, even the most cynical and fastidious capitalists must recognize that there exists some natural limit of efficiency (even with technological augmentation).

Biotechnology growth has recently spiked up as a result and its now up to companies to find out what that means for them. How should companies incorporate business practices so that they can benefit from this inevitable trend. While some companies are contributing at the forefront with new innovations in resource management, other companies will have to find which services they can provide or will demand in the future. Whether these companies are innovating to create substitutes or trying to increase the efficiency of how we use our resources, sustainability management will likely become an increasingly popular (and necessary) field.

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