To Make an Image, to Make a Difference #3pVOTE

This post is part of our year-end “year in review” sustainable business writing contest. We’ve asked 3p readers to submit their own thoughts about the state of sustainable business in 2010. More information about the contest is available here. All submitted articles will be available on this page. Voting will happen in January!
by Bratu Ionel

Sustainability is a book with many pages, but it comes down to responsibility.

There are two kinds of responsibility:  A responsibility which comes from the inside, and a responsibility which comes from the outside.

For example, when you drive a car, you drive responsibly. But why?

If you try not to exceed the speed limit, so you don’t break the law, that responsibility comes from the outside. You are told to be responsible. But when you drive responsibly so you don’t destroy the car, so you don’t hurt yourself, or others, that responsibility comes from the inside. You tell yourself to be responsible.

The same is with sustainability. If it comes from the outside, the company attempts to fit into regulations, laws, principles. If it comes from the inside, the company tries to preserve the environment, to ensure employee satisfaction, and so on, because they feel that’s the right thing to do.

Another aspect of Sustainability, an unfortunate one, is talk vs. action. Some companies mostly talk, others mostly act upon it. And that is a big difference. In the nowadays society, Sustainability is seen with good eyes. So being all-talk, is seen with good eyes. That comes from the outside, and is meant for the outside. But the really important ones are those who act, who really make a difference for the good of the world, and not for their own image.

The analysts have to see this difference in their research. The abovementioned extremes are not really met, but there is always a mix of them, so that’s where the difficulty comes.

We have to look very carefully, and to draw our conclusions upon facts, not upon talks.

A very good example of how things work is a piece of news which appeared at a romanian TV station, ProTV. It is about the low absorption of European Union funds in Romania and it is exemplified with a biodiesel factory which is being slowed down in its business by no other than the Romanian Government. The factory is set up upon a credit and the funds should come when the project is approved, but the government delays the approval for too long, so the business is paused, so the funds do not come. Being on credit, it also means inevitable bankrupcy.

The conclusion we draw is that, even if the regulations say we need to put more and more biofuel in our fuels, the higher interests are different. We are mostly talk, but no action.

We are still very far away from being a sutsainable society. However, the work of analists and suatainability consultants marks the basic principles which will survive over time, when the old economy models will fail and will have to be replaced. We know what we should do, but we still do mostly what we have done before. So when the old patterns will stop working, we will be forced to go by the new ones, which are just being researched. It has been proved before that the old economy and society models are heading towards a dead end, so time only will decide when we hit the ground hard. Then only the sustainability will work.
More information (in romanian language!) at

Bratu Ionel
ESG Analyst, International Team, Eastern Europe
Solaron Sustainability Services: The Different Shades of SustainabilityTM

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