The Sustainable Development Story: Applying the 5W&H Reporting Principles

WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHY? HOW?

WHO?

In a nutshell, all of humanity – whether active or passive in our global village’s activities. As representatives of this planet, of countries, of age and social groupings, and of industries, our mere existence affects the issues facing us.

WHAT?

The implications of climate change, waste, financial crisis and poverty have converged in the collective consciousness – implicating governments, corporations and societies in the process.

WHEN?

Right now. The worldwide rise in policy revision, corporate reform and consumer behavioural change all has one objective in common: accountability; and one end-goal in mind: survival. Hence the hopeful 21st century catchphrase: Sustainable Development – hand-in-hand with urgency, inclusivity and honesty.

WHERE?

On every level of society in just about every part of the world, the effects of unsustainable growth are evident in the domino effect of natural disasters, economic meltdown and decreased quality of life. These changes are amplified by the rising tide of social media, environmental and economic activism (e.g. WEF/Greenpeace and the Occupy movement), political uprising on most Continents and ever-increasing pressure on business across industries to act responsibly.

WHY?

Globalisation created new relationships between economies and supply chains. It sped up technological innovation and population growth, increasing consumption of our natural (water, food) and mined (energy) resources. This has ricocheted to drive prices up; availability and quality down. The ecosystems that sustain us economically and as a society are at increased risk. Our civilisation, as we know it, is young, with the first city-state established only 20 centuries ago, democracy in its infancy and the industrial age an embryo at just over a century– yet it is in this age that most risk has been taken.

“Throughout the 20th century, we created wealth through vertically integrated corporations. Now, we create wealth through networks. We are at a turning point in human history, where the industrial age has finally run out of gas.” – Don Tapscott

HOW?

Businesses are being forced to react to these changes in order to remain successful and, in many cases, are developing new business models that recognize the need to innovate and do more with less.

My next blog, Wednesday the 30th on this spot will cover: Sustainability and Corporate Reporting – a waltz, not a toi-toi!

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