Last month, close to 100 environmental ministers from more than 130 countries, with members from the private sector, scientific bodies, and civil-society organizations, met in Nairobi, Kenya, at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, in advance of The UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, which will be held in Brazil next year. UDEP issued a report at last month’s meeting to kick-start dialogue and policy considerations toward facilitating a transition toward a low-carbon, resource-efficient, green economy, a strategy where manufacturing will play a pivotal role. The challenge for the pharmaceutical industry and other manufacturing and business sectors is how to bring the goals of sustainability into organizational and operational practice.
An effective route to achieving sustainability requires a cross-functional approach and participation from those in business, government, education and the broader community as a whole. Building a consensus of what is meant by “sustainability,” identifying goals and targets in sustainability, and understanding how it can be applied and measured are no easy tasks, but essential for putting sustainability into practice.
A recently formed effort, the Sustainability Collaborative, founded by Ann Lee Jeffs, product stewardship and sustainability manager at Johnson & Johnson, seeks to do just that by bringing forth topics, ideas, and concepts, which may help to shape the important topics in universal sustainability. The Sustainability Collaborative is a cross-functional coalition of representatives from industry, academia, government, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and now includes more than 500 members. It was founded in 2008 as a way to accelerate and facilitate dialogue, solutions, and partnerships across and among academia, business, government, nonprofits, and communities.
The Sustainability Collaborative will hold its first summit, SustaiNext, later this month, Mar. 22 and 23, at Drexel University in Philadelphia as a forum to exchange research, the latest thinking, ideas, and commentary on putting sustainability into practice. The SustaiNext meeting in Philadelphia is the first of several national and international summits by the Sustainability Collaborative, which will include a summit at Arizona State University in the fall of 2011, an EU-based 2011 summit at Dublin University, Ireland, and a global meeting next year in Washington DC in the first quarter of 2012.
The leadership team of the Sustainability Collaborative recently held a podcast to explain the mission of the Sustainability Collaborative and the specific sessions of the SustaiNext summit, which includes tracks in business, education, and the community. Twenty-four speakers will offer their perspectives, including speakers from companies in the pharmaceutical, medical-technology, and consumer-care industries, such as Johnson & Johnson and Becton Dickinson.
Drilling down to the specifics in product life-cycle management, organizational structures, operations, training, education, and public policy is the avenue to putting sustainability into practice. Forums or other ways that help facilitate those efforts are valuable steps into the road to a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.