Sustainability 3.0

The Three Phases of Sustainability

Sustainability 1.0 ... Doing Good In the late 1960's corporations began to fully realize the danger to their reputations from the negative effects of their products. At the same time they were wary of increasingly louder calls for more regulation. The first phase of sustainability was about corporations practicing good corporate citizenship, largely through philanthropy, to enhance brand as well as a way stay ahead of critics and government. For example, an energy company running a coal-fired power plant might fund asthma relief programs, or a beverage company reducing a rural water table might provide help for displaced farmers. This first phase of sustainability was not about changing how business was done in any fundamental way. This was CSR-CYA Sustainability
Sustainability 2.0 ... Doing Well More recently, business has recognized that doing good can also mean doing well – engaging stakeholders to find financial value in the “low-hanging fruit” of increased efficiency, reduced waste, and projects with high potential returns. This is where the large majority of corporations find themselves in their sustainability journeys - and it makes sense because it's about good management. Companies are saving money and their customers are behind it. This is "No Regrets Sustainability".
Sustainability 3.0 ... Doing Differently A third phase of sustainability is emerging out of a broader awareness that industrial development can not continue with business-as-usual. Today with over seven billion people on earth, and with only 15% having a middle-class standard of living, we already require the resources of 1½ earth’s just to keep up . This has led to among other things resource depletion, damage to ecosystem carrying capacity, and climate change. Over the next 20 years, it is estimated that two to three billion more people will be gaining these higher living standards with all the implications for greater resource use, increased carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. Forward-looking companies are becoming increasingly aware that their competitiveness will be defined by how they respond to this global shift. Many are not waiting for their customers to give them the signal. They are reconfiguring their operations, creating new markets, and in the process disrupting the status quo. This is "Disruptive Sustainability"