One of the most accepted definition of sustainable development is:
“[Sustainable development] is a method of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
According to the 1992 Brundtland Report, two concepts are inherently associated with this notion: the concept of “needs” — and more particularly the essential necessities of the poorest, and the concept of “limitations”, which allows the environment to meet current needs while renewing itself to meet future needs.
From this definition, 3 main inseparable themes have been extracted: Indeed, what sustainable development really emphasizes is that to achieve sustainable and healthy growth we must at the same time address economic, social and environmental issues. The main challenge is to tackle those 3 themes equally and as a whole.
Bridges must be built between those 3 pillars, which are often treated in isolation. Let’s take the example of a factory creation. It is possible to generate profit and employment, so everything is fine on the economic and social level. However, its construction, the transportation of raw materials and manufactured products induces pollution of the air. The factory’s wastes contaminate cultivated soils nearby, thus impacting our food and health. This degradation of air and our health generates costs for individuals and society, and so on.
This example illustrates the fundamental principle of sustainable development, which is that everything is connected, each element has an impact on the rest. In order to have a sustainable approach, the 3 pillars are defined as follows:
- the economy, which represents mainly, for a structure, its capacity of production and integration into globalisation, its ability to innovate and carry out research….
- the social aspect, which is concerned with integration and exclusion, the health of populations, solidarity, care, etc.
- the environment, which relates to all issues concerning environmental resources, waste, energy production, climate change, to name a few.
With regard to CSR (RSE in french), it refers to all the practices implemented by companies in order to respect the principles of sustainable development (social, environmental, and economic). According to the French Ministry of Labour, it’s:
“the voluntary integration of companies’ social and ecological concerns into their economic activities and their relations with stakeholders such as employees, shareholders, suppliers, subcontractors, consumers, etc.”
In other words, it is the concept of sustainable development applied to companies.
For many, developing and implementing a CSR policy is expensive. That is why at Use Design our commitment is to implement this approach step by step, in order to make it grow in harmony with the agency’s life, and help others do so in their own companies.