A4.6 Continued (2)…


A panacea?

 The concept has moved from preventing pollution in manufacturing industries to becoming a driver for innovation and competitiveness. Companies implement eco-efficiency to optimize their processes, turn their wastes into resources for other industries, and drive innovation that leads to products with new functionalities.

Eco-efficiency is a practical approach but not a panacea. And it will never work as an add-on to a business – it has to be an integral part of a strategy. Such a strategy will have a strong focus on technological and social innovation, accountability and transparency, as well as on cooperation with other parts of society with a view to achieving the set objectives.

Eco-efficiency can help companies develop and successfully implement a business strategy toward sustainability only if it’s in the hearts and minds of employees. Demonstrating the value of an eco-efficient approach will help employees recognize why it is important for the company to implement and motivate towards action.

Eco-efficiency has been demonstrated, through hundreds of case examples, to work for companies of all sizes, in all industrial sectors and in all regions. It is critical to draw on the range of tools, strategies and examples that already exist within the leaders in this field.

Eco-efficiency also requires a range of skills and capabilities from understanding definitions and dilemmas, analyzing stakeholder perspectives to undertaking a life-cycle assessment, integrating thinking across business operations, cooperating and negotiating with external partners, and measuring and evaluating impact.

Eco-efficiency is, in fact, work in progress and will continue to be so because it is in essence a dynamic rather than a static process.  Eco-efficiency is not sufficient by itself because it integrates only two of sustainability’s three elements, economics and ecology, while leaving the third, social progress, outside its embrace. By advocating and educating eco-efficiency, employees can better understand the impacts of the company and its relationship with society. This will enable business to look beyond eco-efficiency in order to earn its licence to operate, innovate and grow.

 © 1997-2010 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)