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Education for sustainability.

| Albert Vilario Alonso | LinkedIn

2/11/15 21:16

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Education for sustainability.


Nov 2, 2015

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NOTE: This article was originally published in spanish and can be found here.
I read on the website Edie.net a short summary of a study conducted by the
company SmartestEnergy to a sample of one thousand people, according to
which companies are failing when it comes to capitalizing their efforts
on sustainability (in this case focusing on environmental sustainability)
because they are not being translated into an improved corporate reputation.
The study also shows some interesting statistics, that perhaps can be extrapolated
to the spanish reality and to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in general,
that is taking into account the economic and social aspects in addition to
environmental ones.
Among the statistics, these two facts have particularly caught my attention:
57% of respondents believe that a sustainable future is a shared

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Education for sustainability. | Albert Vilario Alonso | LinkedIn

2/11/15 21:16

responsibility between individuals, business and government.


74% of respondents said they would use a sustainable brand to improve their
environmental impact, but 82% of them think they should not pay more
for a sustainable product or service.
Both statistics are worth to be commented, being one still a low percentage and
the other a high one, and I think both should be used to draw future trends
when it comes to promoting sustainability and giving it the importance it
deserves.
That just over half of the respondents believe that sustainability is a shared
responsibility reveals that we still have to make a huge effort in education for
sustainability and also in communication and information (and that is
assuming that the remaining 43% have clear and really understand what is
sustainability, CSR, or as we like to call it). And that effort should come from two
main estates: business and the Administration. Responsible and sustainable
companies interested in communicating sustainability must be the first to
benefit from it, to take advantage of this differentiation against their
competitors, while they also will help to increase that reputation that the study
itself states that they can not take advantage from.
Needless to say that there should be left out of that communication the
companies that simply do greenwashing, which unfortunately we see quite often.
On the other side is the Administration who should inform and educate the
public on issues of sustainability and CSR, so the ordinary citizen is aware of that
corresponsibility and is able to assume achieving a sustainable future with
confidence.
If those who purchase the product or service (which is usually the main
stakeholder of most organizations) do not know what is sustainability, its
importance and which company is responsible and which is not, we lose the main
vector of change for increasingly responsible products and services.
Both in the aspect of businesses and administrations we have a long way to go to
achieve informed customers, as businesses still do not report their CSR and its
impacts or report them in a biased manner or difficult to understand for
the average citizen, and the authorities do not go further than making specific
campaigns and also far from being holistic. And in the scholar education field,
when will there be a compulsory subject in schools which teaches education
for sustainability, not only environmental, but also economic and social?
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Education for sustainability. | Albert Vilario Alonso | LinkedIn

2/11/15 21:16

Maybe that subject exists in Spain, but I have made a quick search on Google
without results. If any reader knows of any example, please share it as a comment
to this article.
When it comes to the increase in the cost of products and services that the
customer has to bear, we see clearly that the citizen is not willing to pay more for
it. I find curious that statistic because we have seen previously in another studies
that the percentage of people who would be willing to pay more for a sustainable
product was increasing, which has always surprised me a lot, and then over time
you can confirm that the percentage of responsible purchasing products doesnt
seem to have a directly proportional relation to the expressed intention. That tells
us that citizens may say they would pay more for a sustainable brand, but at the
moment of truth few do, because they really think what this study is telling and
that is that in case there are increased costs to be sustainable they should be
borne by the company. Needless to repeat in detail all the economic benefits
that companies actually manage to achieve when making a strategic, real and
properly communicated CSR. These benefits should serve to offer competitive
prices while benefiting at the same time the owners and shareholders of these
companies, and not simply to "divert" those potential savings for the customer
into the coffers of the company.
As the informed and educated in sustainability citizen demands companies
to be responsible and that their products and services have therefore no
increased cost, it will occur which is being long predicted, and that is the
disappearance of the less responsible companies. That is, the realization
of the sentence heard at many conferences and events, and read on many
specialized media, "the company will be responsible, or it will not exist."
Hopefully that moment comes, the sooner the better.

Education, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability

Written by

Albert Vilario Alonso

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