Business as unusual for Sustainable development

By Henry Kazula, trainer, author, mentor, Green/Sustainable Business consultant, CEO of Jielimishe Kwanza Co. Ltd.

Our planet Earth is facing number of unprecedented environmental challenges-scientifically diagnosed as “global sickness” resulted from environmental degradation grounded from human activities for self-interest to profit-making in business etting. Tanzania, among the other developing countries, is at higher risks of facing the negative impacts from various forms of environmental degradation as it makes every effort to alleviate poverty, as is a close relationship between the latter and environmental degradation. In seeking a daily bread to call a day, most people in developing countries find immediate resources from common pool resources-“natural capital” as initial investment capital to start small businesses (i.e. unsustainable charcoal making, unsustainable agriculture, unsustainable fishing etc.). Whereas the giant businesses keep on embracing unsustainable production of goods and services while the consumers keep on purchasing unsustainable goods and services with a myths of living a modern lifestyle, that, all inclusively create grave environmental impacts to our planet.

Energetically influencing the community to turn around their mode of production and consumption from individual / business / organizational practices to more sustainable, I cannot underestimate a collective thinking of pioneers in business, government and civil society on the concept of sustainable development, simply defined in the Brundtland Commission’s report of 1987 of the UN as the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development concept and its principle application have been in use for about three decades now as a means of our time to harmonize both development activities (i.e. human consumption and production) and available natural resources as “natural capital.” Also, the concept is a guiding principle to a newly established UN Global goals- Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs by 2030).

‘Natural capital’ as adopted from Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) published report of 2015 -“Doing business with nature” by the Natural Capital Leaders Platform, it is an economic characterisation of the limited stocks of physical and biological resources found on Earth. It refers to the limited capacity of ecosystems to provide services (i.e. the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being). With a major intention to grow businesses that last in response to social, environmental and economic interests; business owners, managers and other key stakeholders shouldn’t ignore the principle application of sustainable production and consumption of goods and services from “natural capital” for Green growth.

“Doing business with nature” a report of 2015 revealed that the current human consumption to “natural capital” is facing the three major challenges fixed to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, overexploitation of water resource (1/5 of world’s aquifers are being overexploited) and degradation and eroded of arable land (10million hectares of arable land being degraded and eroded every year-Global scale). The identified challenges affect all of us in various aspects as fixed to consumption and production of goods and services. In business setting, businesses operating in a context of “business as usual”, have to think smart and differently to address the existing environmental challenges while creating both social and environmental value.

I’m writing this article specifically to challenge “business as usual” and status quo while opening a chat with stakeholders and invite businesses to reflect upon their business model and strategy in relying to “natural capital” for Sustainable
development. It’s all about making a wake-up call and encouraging business owners and those who want to set up new business to judge business strategies to balance or minimize their ecological footprint-the human demand on the planet’s ability to provide renewable resources and ecological services, while creating more business value.

In agreement with global community and environmental activists with Green growth programs, I keep on arguing against all human activities leading to climate change impacts, unprecedented environmental pollution (solid waste, air and water pollution, soil and natural resources degradation). Consequently, I argue venturing in Green/Sustainable business – among Green growth programs as a powerful tool accepted by environmental activists globally to rescue our Planet from the impacts of human activities resulted from conducting “business as usual”.

As a matter of assisting understanding, “Green/ Sustainable business” refers to a model of conducting business as “business as unusual” to reduce or overcome the negative impacts to the environmental, the community, society or economy at global or local level while creating more value and reputation for sustainable development. It’s an enterprise that heeds the interest of Planet, People and Profit, i.e. the triple bottom line.

Through its various programmes – “Go-Green-Tanzania” and “Social & Environmental Entrepreneurship in Tanzania” (SEETanzania) -, training courses and seminars – “Building Green Business” (BGB), “Green Team Building”(GTB) -,
Sustainable/Social/Environmental Entrepreneurship and consultancy services for Green Growth, “Jielimishe Kwanza”-“Educate Yourself First” Co. Ltd advocates the shared social and environmental values for the sake of minimizing operational costs, minimizing environmental impacts and maximize profit i.e. addressing issues related to sustainable development – Economic Prosperity, Environmental Protection and Social Justice in their local communities innovatively and creatively in business and managerial setting.

Regularly speaking with the public via radio and training programs, public events, and business forums, I strictly insist that; “success in business is not relying on building number of different businesses, it’s about doing business differently in a smart approach while taking a forefront interest of the planet Earth and the Market (People) at the same time as aximizing profit.” It’s about encouraging the public to set up business that can address the environmental challenges of our time while creating social, economic and environmental value.

Likewise, it must be taken into account that, any success in business involves wheeling together with changing time while creating more value to value chain. Entrepreneurs, Business owners and Start-up Companies have to “turn a blind eye to” business mentality of believing on conducting “business as usual” for economic growth i.e. running a business with a central and selfish interest on accumulating profits regardless of any serious environmental destruction with unsustainable production of goods and services and negative human health impacts.

Keeping on embracing “business as usual” will make all of us and the future generation fall short of ecosystem services to support human life; meaning that the world will not be a better place to live for all. Unavoidably, all stakeholders in collective action have to take into account the prime interest of protecting natural resources as referred to as “natural capital” followed by human development and economic gain.

Let’s join our efforts and change our attitude to set up Green/Sustainable businesses to rescue the situation before it’s too late!

Jielimishe Kwanza Co. Ltd – “Educate Yourself First” – was created as a response to “business as usual” as glued to business mindset and status quo in business setting. It is a training and consultancy company in Tanzania with a team of experienced staff members in sustainability issues and business development find a worthwhile opportunity in developing human capacity at global and individual levels by assisting the business owners, managers/CEOs, young entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs explore new concepts/ideas /business opportunities and share insight with practical skills to embrace Green growth programs and sustainably investing from “natural capital” to reinvent business model and establish innovative Green/Sustainable businesses.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the African Climate Reality Project.