How much sustainability is enough?

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark
PostedApril 01, 2015, in  Step 8: sustainable society
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Awareness and support for sustainability is on the increase. Businesses take all kinds of measures in order to operate in a more sustainable manner. Slowly but surely accountability is also often being taken through Integrated Reporting. But how do you know you are acting in a sustainable manner? What is going well and what could be better? To answer that question, the Future-Fit Business Benchmark was developed.  

28 objectives

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark was written by sustainability experts Geoff Kendall and Bob Willard, linked to The Natural Step. The aim of the Benchmark is to bridge the gap between awareness and action. In order to do that, generic basic principles for a future-proof, sustainable organization were defined. On that basis, 28 objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators) were drafted. A company that scores a pass on all 28 should be satisfied because then it really is a future-poof organization that delivers a positive contribution from an economic, environmental and social point of view. 


Not easy

Some of the KPIs:

  • all power used is non-polluting and climate neutral;
  • all products and packaging are re-used in some way at the end of the cycle;
  • ‘zero emission’ is the basis for all operational processes;
  • the bio-diversity in the surrounding area is not affected;
  • employees are guaranteed a safe working environment, free of discrimination and with room for personal development. Certainly:  the bar is set high. It’s only logical, since creating a truly sustainable organization is not easy. It is not a cosmetic operation but concerns the foundation of the company.  

Handy document

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark is a handy document for the design of a solid sustainability policy. The wide range of objectives are almost all-encompassing. Yes: almost, there is something missing. The Benchmark is actually focused in the individual company. The big picture – production chain, branch, (global) market – remain out of shot. An important omission, because sustainability issues are also about ‘the system’. Precisely for that reason, Improve4all advocates, among other things, for  commodity tax  instead of capital tax,  educational reforms and a new system for food distribution.


In conclusion, there is another point of criticism. The Benchmark focuses exclusively on the sustainable value of products and processes, but says nothing about the end user. That raises the question of how sustainable a company that produces non-sustainable results can be. Philip Morris and Coca-Cola, for example, deliver products that are proven to be detrimental to the health. No matter how sustainable the process, their products are damaging to the end user. Still, both companies are presented as examples in the Benchmark. This adds a somewhat bitter aftertaste to a practical and clear contribution. We still have a long way to go.  

Interested in the Future-Fit Business Benchmark? This open source publication can be downloaded for free. 


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PostedApril 01, 2015, in Step 8: sustainable society
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