Sustainability Week 2017, hosted by the City of Tshwane

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Sustainability can be defined as taking care of present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

A recent report by sustainability consulting firm, Pure Strategies, shows that global corporate spend on sustainability is on the rise. The incentive? Billions worth of added value in the form of increased sales, reduced costs, and additional earnings from in risk reduction, productivity gains, and enhanced growth opportunities.

The report demonstrates a clear link between sustainability programme investment and business benefits. As noted by Tim Greiner, Pure Strategies Managing Director, “The business case for sustainability has never been stronger. Investment is higher than ever, especially from the top performers. But resources must shift to promoting more productive and regenerative systems, clean energy, safer materials, and fair opportunities. These shifts are where change is most needed and where companies can find the greatest business value.”

To discover where and how your organisation needs to change, book your place at Sustainability Week 2017. Africa’s premier green economy forum, Sustainability Week 2017 is the only event of its kind that confronts the formidable topic of embedding sustainability from an African perspective. Multiple perspectives on a plethora of vital, cross-cutting industry topics provide attendees with the big picture – and the insight to allow them to begin making the decisions that will determine the future success of their enterprises.

Clear your windscreen

Confused about what sustainability means to your organization? Chances are you’re not alone.Chris Wild, executive director of Food and Trees For Africa and a speaker at the event, comments: “The truth is that people often throw the word sustainability around without actually knowing what it means in the South African context, or, more importantly how to get there. Normally when people talk about a sustainable project, it means that the project has had the ability to continue post their exit. Some might even call it sustainable while they are still involved in the project. People generally view sustainability through the lens of their own business or experience. I've had mining companies tell me that a project, where people were first-time farmers, should be financially sustainable within three months – a clearly unrealistic expectation, demonstrating a clear need for additional insight into the sustainability of agriculture on their part.”

Sustainability Week 2017 cuts away the confusion, clearing your windscreen so that you know exactly where your organisation stands. An array of industry-specific seminars explores the challenges and opportunities pertaining to the key sustainability topics of energy, transport, water, agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing efficiency, infrastructure, and waste management. Comments Gordon Brown, Director of Sustainability Week 2017: “Quite simply, Sustainability Week provides a toolkit for organisations to navigate the risks and opportunities in an uncertain world.  The competitive advantage that sustainability affords will enable private companies and public sector entities to become more efficient, more resilient and to create more value. By the end of the week, delegates will be in a much better position to develop clear targets, roadmaps, and actionable innovations that make practical business sense, whatever line of business they are in, and in many cases will have met the people that will help them to implement the change they now visualise.

Get the job done

Of course, sustainability is more than good business policy: it underpins the development of society at large. Effective sustainable development requires not only a shift in mindset but also the acquisition of skills. “Development, in itself, requires a specific skill set,” says Wild. “Some people have the mindset of throwing money at the problem. Some approach it, perhaps unintentionally, from a patriarchal viewpoint. If development is going to be truly sustainable then these types of mindsets have to change. Time and again, we are shown that these are not the ways to develop people or projects, yet companies continue to do it. Successful projects should be measured on multiple levels. A project should be its own growing ‘organism’ which not only improves the lives of the beneficiaries but also the communities and government.”

To this end, Sustainability Week 2017 is augmenting its renowned sector focused seminars with outcomes orientated workshops designed to provide the hard skills to ensure successful project implementation. The Project Bankability workshop tackles hard-core finance issues; the Urban Development and Planning workshop provides a blue-print for effective, sustainable city administration; while the Start-ups and Business Incubation workshop opens the door to sustainable opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The seminars highlight a targeted set of the contemporary problems, solutions and opportunities intrinsic to the sector in focus” adds Brown, while the workshops address the core skills required to get the job done, and which are common to people from different sectors and departments.”

The Executive Mayor of City of Tshwane, Councillor Solly Tshepiso Msimanga fully embraces Sustainability Week as an opportunity for City stakeholders to reflect on how to yield the City’s three strategic pillars – namely revitalization of the economy, stabilization of the administration, and delivering of services especially to the poor – from a sustainability perspective. “If things are done in a sustainable way, the positive impacts will be felt beyond short-term planning cycles. We will be able to look back and feel proud.”

Hosted by Alive2Green, in partnership with the City of Tshwane, Sustainability Week 2017 will be held at the CSIR International Conference Centre from 13-15 June 2017.


Gordon Brown

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Twitter: @SustainWeekSA  

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This edition

Issue 39