Sustainability is a global imperative. It is a challenge like no other since the concern over climate change has been rising. Finding a healthy equilibrium between human adaptation and natural evolution is no longer the responsibility of science alone. Business and Society have to work in conjunction to bring the balance. Collaboration between researchers and practitioners is necessary to formulate successful strategies for finding solutions in the complex dynamics of socio environmental systems.
While our un-thoughtful actions causing exhaustion of earth’s natural resources would jeopardize future generations, sustainability could counter that. Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable. Instead of thinking environment as the end, we need to see it as a means to an end. The end here is improved quality of life for all. A life of wholesome wellness using environmental sustainability balancing the triple bottom line – Profit, People and the Planet.
Environmental stewardship is an essential means for achieving such an inclusive well being. Solutions that revolve around all the stakeholders, in business and society are an immediate need. We at Orlina Ventures have been researching and promoting such solutions. We keep environment at the center of the solution that brings in profits for the investor and ensures social development of the immediate local community. Environment projects like ecotourism, eco-site development and revamping of existing local and national environmental offerings assist towards the cause.
It is however necessary to understand the two aspects of any such solution. One is developing it and the other is its careful management & marketing. Wherever the developments are centuries old and need revamping priority must be laid at government and corporate levels involving every citizen. Many such initiatives are being taken to revamp our national parks, zoo, wetland centers and other such environmental products.
Mere possession of the eco project characteristics by any destination will not be enough. It would be like a hidden piece of marvelous art. The development needs to be combined by an appropriate management and marketing strategy. The strategy is to be formulated through participatory management involving the business and the local community attached to the area.
Yes, community is an inevitable stakeholder who is most of the time neglected causing either a slow business growth or its failure in the long term. Local participation could generate powerful incentives for local people to subscribe to the environment concept. The local community represents a valuable resource for identifying and rectifying planning and management problems. There is often a great deal of ‘folk’ knowledge residing in the local community that may be valuable to the sustainability of the project. Local participation represents a means of obtaining and applying that knowledge. Involving the locals also ensures the social sustainability, thus leading to an all round development. This is particularly important in the context of environment, where genuine sustainability could only truly be aspired to with the effective participation of all the stakeholders involved.
India with world’s greatest biodiversity and a variety of unique natural locales is a perfect candidate for promoting such environment-based solutions that take care of business profits and social growth together. Selective marketing is one such tool that could be included in the environmentally sustainable management toolbox. A stop loss here could be to limit the visitors according to the carrying capacity of the destination.
Profiling of light, medium and heavy spenders could be another attempt to maintain the carrying capacity constraints. Such profiling could assess whether an expenditure-based segmentation approach could be beneficial to regional marketers. The possibility is that heavy spenders may be the segment of choice when regions reach their capacity limits. This could take pressure off natural resources through reducing the number of visitors without reducing the revenues proportionately. All these little innovations ensure the balancing of business, social and environmental sustainability.
Information technology could play a significant role in transferring the information through interactive gears like websites, mobile applications, online forums, social media and more. We need to educate and create awareness using this light speed tool to reach out and involve everyone.
Sustainability and sustainable development are critical for creating positive outcomes and achieving success given the dynamics of the global economy and the ongoing shifts in customer expectations, emerging markets, and the intensity of competition. The objective has to be to articulate concepts, constructs, and methodologies. The corporations, small and medium size enterprises could develop and deploy enhanced solutions and more integrated systems. This is possible through sophisticated leadership, cutting-edge management constructs, and state-of-the-art systems that reach across space and time.
Dr. Pooja Chopra is the Founder Director, Orlina Ventures Pvt. Ltd. (www.orlinaventures.com). She is MBA, Ph.D. in Management (Research area Ecotourism) and Masters in Environment Management from Yale University, USA. She could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.