Sustainability is a word we often hear, but don’t often understand the extent of the meaning. It encompasses how natural systems work, continue to be diverse, and yield everything required for the environment to remain in balance now and in the future.
There are three core pillars of sustainability: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. Economic development refers to giving people what they wish for without negotiating the quality of life and reducing the financial weight of doing what is right. Social development is about the mindfulness and legal protection of human health from pollution and toxic activities of businesses and organizations, as well as upholding access to basic natural resources without compromising the quality of life. Environmental protection focuses on how ecosystems should be both studied and protected, and how technology can help ensure a greener future. (2019, Mason)
It’s important for everyone to understand the role they can play in achieving sustainability.
In 2015, Pearson Education released their 2020 Sustainability Plan to focus on integrating social and environmental issues into every aspect of their business. Their plan consists of three focus areas: to increase the number of learners reached, to enhance the future of learning, and to be a trusted partner. The ambition behind the plan is the “need for everyone to be a lifelong learner…by enabling better learning and helping to remove barriers to education, we empower learners to be their best selves, and, in turn, build a better life for themselves and those around them.”
The three pillars of Pearson’s plan correspond to the three pillars of sustainability. The first pillar, Reach More Learners, strives to improve accessibility and affordability of services and products as well as collaboration to reach unwarranted learners. This corresponds with social development and upholding access to basic resources, like education.
The second pillar, Shape the Future of Learning, focuses on promoting education for sustainable development, enhancing skills that foster employability and all-encompassing economic growth, and engagement in research, dialogue, and collective action to solve global issues. This falls under economic development by giving the people what they want and reducing the financial weight of doing what is right.
The last pillar, Be a Trusted Partner, aims to protect the natural environment, build a sustainable supply chain, and to respect and support customers, communities, and people. This coincides with environmental protection. Pearson is making efforts to reduce their environmental impact and to support initiatives for sustainable forests. They are committed to doing business with partners who respect the environment and human rights.
Sustainability is the key to a better future. Humans rely on natural resources for business, activities, and survival. Ignoring sustainability can lead to the exhaustion of natural resources.
Sustainability is important to study even if you aren’t an environmental science major. Business majors need to learn about sustainability because it aids in attractiveness to customers and fulfilling Corporate Social Responsibility. Agriculture, nutrition, and public health students need to focus on sustainability in order to learn how to feed a growing population nutritious and quality food. Education majors spread the knowledge of sustainability to the next generation so they can lead change. Every major has a connection to sustainability.
It’s also important to know if the businesses you support incorporate sustainability in their business model, like Pearson does with its 2020 Sustainability Plan. If you don’t agree with a company’s stance or lack of action, you have the power to end your support. You may think your individual power as a consumer is small, but groups of consumers can make a huge difference. It is our duty to make the world a better place.
2019, Mason M, “What is sustainability and why is it important?”. Retrieved from: https://www.environmentalscience.org/sustainability
2016, Pearson Education Sustainability Narrative: https://www.pearson.com/corporate/sustainability/our-2020-plan.html