3-D image of the earth used with the permission of Cornell University                                                                                                                                                                                                
     Sustain-NW written in green and blue script lettering

Integrating Risk Management with Global Stewardship for a World of Possibilities

Sustainability is Global Risk Management

We live in a world where the climate and business rules are changing faster than ever before. The first rule of business is to remain “profitable”, but what does that really mean in today’s global environment? Profitable for shareholders or for society in general? Profitable for the current quarter or two or for the next ten, twenty or fifty years?

Companies today are being sued for practices that took place years ago. Lead paint manufacturers have been held responsible for millions of dollars in cleanup and mitigation costs. A federal jury recently recommended half a billion dollars in payment and penalties by cold war military contractors who built and tested nuclear bombs over 50 years ago.

As Dan Anderson writes in his 2005 book Corporate Survival: The Critical Importance of Sustainability Risk Management, “The basic objectives of risk management are to protect the assets of the corporation and to preserve corporate earnings (profits). I would suggest that the ultimate objectives of risk management are to protect ecosystems as capital assets, to preserve their continuing services; and to maintain fair and equitable social systems.”

Competitive companies and public entities are demonstrating that there are advantages and benefits to embracing “sustainable“ policies and practices. Insurers, reinsurers, bankers, customers and shareholders are not only paying attention, but are often seeking out organizations with this broader vision.

The New Stakeholders

What is your company doing today that could be perceived in the future as socially irresponsible and/or detrimental to the environment?  In addition to Shareholders and Trustees, all organizations must consider how their actions will be viewed now and in the future by:

  • Customers and employees
  • Regulators and NGOs
  • "Green" consumers
  • Insurers and bankers
  • Communities

Sustainability is a Journey

The good news is that many companies and numerous public entities are already on the road to sustainability.  As a result there are many resources available now to assist you in determining how sustainability can be implemented in your organization.

These sustainability tools include:

You owe it to yourself and your organization to find out all you can about the critically important journey to sustainability when considering:

  • Climate change and "Peak Oil"
  • Competition for limited resources
  • Increasing legal liability
  • EPA and other regulations

Sustain-NW offers consultative and other services to support you on the journey to sustainability.



    Photo @ Jill Sughrue 2006

New NWEI Discussion Course:


LOCALS in The Columbian

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What's YOUR Ecological Footprint? Use the updated Earth Day Network calculator to find out!

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The Story of Stuff

with Annie Leonard

(20 fast-paced minutes of valuable information)

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Sustainability is Acknowledging that's EVERYTHING is INTERCONNECTED:

Image of the earth, with layers that are labeled Ecology, Human Equity, and Economy. Large words circle around the graphic that say Nature, Health, Culture, Economics, Energy. Many smaller words encircle the main graphic and larger words.  Copyright © 2006 Atwood Publishing

Western Climate Initiative members join in launching the International Climate Action Partnership in October 2007 

A gem of a resource!

What does it mean?

Sustain vt: 1: to keep in existence; maintain. 2: to supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for. … 4: to support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage.

Sustainable adj: capable of being sustained.

Sustainability n: the process of making informed decisions for the ultimate success of an organization and all its stakeholders.  

Sustainability is a term derived from the United Nation’s 1987 Brundtland Report which defined sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

In practice, sustainability promotes the understanding that all activities on the earth, from seemingly small personal choices to multi-billion dollar business decisions, are deeply interconnected and therefore integral parts of the whole.  From this whole-system, cyclical viewpoint, there is great opportunity to contribute to strong economies, healthy communities and a stable environment.  This is often referred to as the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet and profit.