Note: This blog post was initially published in the journal Organization & Environment in December of 2015 by Mark Starik, who was the journal’s Co-Editor-in-Chief at the time. It follows on the previous blog post which describes the problems with stealth sustainability, which is not publicizing an individual’s or organization’s sustainability actions or results, and, therefore, hampering any learning or improvement that might have resulted had that information been made public.
I subsequently relocated back to the U.S. and have continued to both reduce my footprint by buying local, used, and as little as possible, significantly cutting back on both air and auto travel, and keeping track of my consumption much more carefully than I did in the past (e-mail me if you want to “talk trash”). And, I’m letting my students and colleagues know about both my sustainability successes and, importantly, my non-successes, in case either might help them manage their own lives more sustainably.
But, I have no doubt that there are many more impactful and salient sustainability entities on the planet than I, so I want to describe just a few examples that you and your organizations and networks may want to investigate (and, potentially, emulate). I am very pleased and honored to be a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), based in Portland, Oregon (USA), which is a professional association of sustainability consultants and other leaders, currently engaged in certifying both Sustainability Professionals (via their CSP program) and Sustainability Associates (with their SA program). Other ISSP activities include webinars on a wide range of sustainability topics, a national North American conference, multiple publications, and a sustainability consulting framework (called S-CORE) which can be used to assess and diagnose sustainability management capabilities and opportunities at the organizational level (in any of the three sectors). Organization & Environment readers are encouraged to check out this organization and consider joining and perhaps getting certified by them, since the greater the membership, the greater the reach and salience of this sustainability management program. Their home page can be found at: https://www.sustainabilityprofessionals.org/ .
A second example of the opposite of unhelpful stealth sustainability management is the International Living Futures Institute (ILFI), headquartered in Seattle, Washington (USA), which is a community of green building practitioners who are not only the leading advocates of “net zero” and “net positive” building design, construction, and operation, but have recently attempted to apply these same environmental and socio-economic principals, goals, and certification focusing on restoration and wellness in communities and in products. They too have an active, comprehensive website at: http://living-future.org/ , sponsor multiple on-line and in situ gatherings of their members, have a “diplomat” program for their member experts to spread the word, and have multiple publications (including a magazine), both in-print and on-line to advance these movements.
A third example of salient/shining sustainability is the organization and network called Solar Gardens. This effort that has been developing over the past decade is based near Denver, Colorado (USA) was formed to advance the idea and development of community/shared solar utilization and has grown significantly over that time period. While common in Europe, this American effort has recently received recognition from the White House, which has helped organize 68 cities, states, and businesses to pledge to install enough community solar photovoltaic arrays to power 20,000 low-and-moderate income households in 21 states in the near future. The organization, whose home page is at: http://www.solargardens.org/ has several membership categories, a widely distributed blog/newsletter, and a solar gardener (organizer) training program.
Of course, many more examples could be presented of individuals, organizations, communities, and networks that help encourage and shine a light on our sustainability management (or lack thereof). These include writers such as J.B. MacKinnon, author of the 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, McKenzie Funk, author of Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, and Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better. They include data bases such as the Bloomberg for Environmental, Social, & Governance Analysis Database that encourages a wide-range of self-reporting and publicly available information for use by multiple analysts, including those in universities, and organizations such as Future Earth, a recent formation of scientists and stakeholders from around the world seeking to share knowledge to highlight and accelerate sustainability transformations. And, it includes individuals (including some of our most recent O&E authors) and other entities, such as B-Lab, which are highlighting in multiple countries around the world the rise of hybrid organizations, such as B Corps (or Benefit Corporations). Of course, we are hoping that your journal, Organization & Environment, is also playing its part in advancing salient sustainability!