What is the future of sustainability

Corporate development with a future - how important is sustainability?

Climate change, but also the imbalance between billions in sales by Western companies and the living standards of people in developing countries, are among the major problems of our time. Not only is there growing awareness of sustainable consumption among the population, many companies are also doing business more sustainably. Founders who are just starting a young, modern company should know what role sustainability will play for companies in the future. [Cooperation with an external editor]

Why sustainability concerns everyone

Sustainable development - what is it?

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development wrote the report “Our common future". The World Commission, founded in 1983, formulated the following in the well-known "Brundlandt Report":

Sustainable development is development that takes into account the needs of today's generations without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The endangerment of all of our lives

There has been an overuse of global resources since the 1970s. During the overload In 1970 it was only 0.8 percent, it looks dramatically different today: In 2019 the earth's congestion was 42.7 percent. As prosperity rises in emerging countries and the number of consumers increases due to a growing world population, the burden will continue to grow.

Not only a scarcity of resources, but also the effects of global warming on nature and cycle processes endanger the continued existence of all of us. Extreme weather events, storms, water shortages and the increase in drought areas as well as lower crop yields, changing ecosystems, the melting of the polar ice caps and the rise in sea levels are disasters to be expected. The social, economic and ecological fabric that we will leave behind for future generations is no longer intact. Our children and grandchildren are to be born into this.

The awareness of sustainability is growing

Sustainability as a criterion for consumption

A large part of the population now attaches importance to the fact that sustainability is observed in the production and sale of consumer goods.

A study by the consulting and auditing company KPMG, which was developed in collaboration with the Institute for Retail Research, comes to exactly such results. In 2011, 76 percent of consumers attached great importance to sustainability. In 2019 it was a full 81 percent.

Around 500 consumers were asked about sustainability as part of the study. The study can be found on the KPMG website for more information Obtain free of charge.

A growing awareness of environmental protection

The Federal Environment Agency reportsthat environmental and climate protection is becoming more and more important to people. In May 2018 the UBA together with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) the clear results of his representative survey on environmental awareness in Germany: In 2016, only around half of all respondents said that environmental and climate protection was a very important challenge. In 2018 it was 64 percent and in 2019 a full 68 percent.

The respondents even consider climate protection to be the most important challenge. This is followed by the improvement of the education system, the establishment of social justice and the challenges posed by wars and terrorism, immigration and migration, crime and public security.

More and more companies are becoming more sustainable

The facts and examples of other companies show for founders that sustainability is and will remain an important topic:

The Piepenbrock Unternehmensgruppe GmbH + Co. KG organizes regularly "Sustainability days". Employees have the opportunity to attend events on social, ecological and economic topics. of course is Piepenbrock not alone with their commitment to sustainable commitment.

More than sixty companies did not have until the end of April 2020 on the initiative of the "Foundation 2 degrees“One common appeal composed. After the corona crisis, the restart should be used consistently to set the course for sustainability and climate protection. Economic policy measures that serve to cope with the corona crisis should be closely interlinked with those used to cope with the climate crisis.

But even with a look at the global corporate culture, it is noticeable that sustainability is increasingly finding its way into the strategies of companies that are represented around the world. Even the fashion industry because of Fast fashion repeatedly comes under strong criticism, now reacts in some places.

The well-known sports shoe manufacturer Vans for example, its popularity has only recently increased, by showing environmental awareness. The "Green Sole Operations" program introduced by Vans is a headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. This is operated with 4,000 solar collectors, which cover 50 percent of the energy requirement and thus avoid 440 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Further actions in the buildings and on the premises ensure more environmental protection in production.

The three-pillar model of sustainability

With the help of the three-pillar model of sustainability, founders can formulate guidelines for sustainable action in and with their company. For the first time, the three pillars ecology, economy and social issues Formulated at the end of the 1990s. All three pillars are of equal importance. This fact is based on the assumption that sustainability can only be lived if environmental, economic and social goals are pursued at the same time.


Ecological sustainability describes the need to be more resource-friendly with the planet and to protect nature more effectively. Substances that are harmful to health should be minimized or even omitted completely in the entire work environment.

Anyone who founds a company should make sure that they always use water, energy and finite raw materials with care. There are basically no alternatives to the use of renewable energies in modern start-ups.


Companies often focus solely on maximizing profit. Long-term strategies, however, are much more than that. Success not only means earning more, but also switching completely to fair trade. A sustainable economic goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone involved in the company.


Social sustainability is about people themselves, especially respect for human rights. When founding a company, it is important to ensure that employees and customers are treated fairly and equally. Completely contrary to social sustainability are exploitation and forced or even child labor.

At best, companies should act in a way that is geared towards the common good. How to behave in conflict situations is also part of the thoughts on social sustainability.

What does “sustainable” really mean?

Companies that act sustainably can already be found in almost all branches of the economy. They are designed to be authentic, innovative and aesthetically pleasing. Sustainability, which is lived and at the same time propagated by the company, can even become an attitude towards life.

  • Sustainability in the office implementing it is a long process. Founders, on the other hand, have the opportunity to plan and act sustainably from the very beginning.
  • Who acts sustainably sustainable purposes has in mind and corresponding goals. On the basis of these goals, sustainable services can be offered and sustainable products manufactured. Sustainability then becomes a quality of these offers.
  • In order to act sustainably in all areas, you need a Measurement of values, intentions and ideals. Sustainability benchmarks, indices and databases help to check a start-up on the three pillars mentioned.
  • The Methods of digitization also help in the analysis and control of the requirements of the three-pillar model of sustainability. Artificial intelligence can also play an important role in this.

The use of the federal government

Also the Federal government declaresthat sustainable development can only work through the interaction of various factors. For this purpose, certain rules for dealing with limited resources for occupational health and safety and environmental protection must be observed.

For example, the federal government wants to increase the proportion of EMAS-registered locations of companies and organizations to 5,000 by 2030. Companies and other organizations that participate in EMAS undertake to comply with all relevant environmental legislation.

As an incentive, the companies are rewarded after this registration. This reward can be a refund of electricity tax. For young companies and start-ups in particular, there are great advantages in terms of fee advantages or simplifications. Public award ceremonies for particularly future-oriented companies can also represent a real opportunity.