Because I received a degree in horticulture and agriculture, and have been an avid grower and consumer of organic food for 25 plus years, my knowledge of sustainability issues tends to be greatest in those areas. Get me talking about the importance of local, sustainably grown, organic food and I become a bit evangelical! I have also long had an interest in sustainable energy issues, even before the recent world events pushed that to the forefront (again). What I know less about, but have been reading on lately is the whole idea of large-scale economic sustainability.
The efficient and responsible use of resources, usually discussed in monetary terms, is what economic sustainability refers to. Economic sustainability can be applied to individuals, families, small and large businesses, communities, governments or world wide organizations. What I find interesting and encouraging, especially if it continues to expand, is the current pressures that are being brought on very large corporations to conduct their businesses in a more sustainable and responsible way. This is a huge endeavor, but there are many organizations that are working on it.
For one example, take a look at the Ceres website. There is a lot of good information there about their mission, but one page that really caught my attention was the link to the recent Ceres conference on “Advancing Sustainable Prosperity”. Look at the list of corporations that sponsored the conference and there are many that you would expect to find there, but others that surprised me. I suppose you could be more cynical than me and think that for some of the companies, it was nothing more than an opportunity for some good PR. However, sponsoring a conference such as this is different than an oil company just putting out an advertisement showing how they are “working” to save the environment. By getting involved in the Ceres conference, a sponsor is demonstrating support for the mission of Ceres. Cooperation of the type seemingly encouraged by Ceres can only be a good thing when it comes to advancing any kind of large-scale sustainability.
I may have found yet another area for interesting reading and research on sustainability issues. Look for a future post with more thoughts and links to groups doing the real legwork on economic sustainability on a grand scale.