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Issue 86
, 2019
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Sustainability and NGOs

Source: Dr. Kavita Yadav, Date: , 2019

Sustainability is often confused with Corporate Social Responsibility or looked upon exclusively through an environmental lens. But in reality CSR happens to be only a part of sustainability definition. Sustainability, in its broader sense  is rightful allocation of resources (natural and economical) to fulfil present day’s needs and also save enough for future needs without compromising on the development aspect. It is governed by 4 factors viz. Social, economical, environmental and time factor. The very idea is to attain a balance amongst the governing factors so that all round development is made possible in the present time and future potential for growth and development is also taken care off.

Sustainability plays an important role for the long term growth and success of any company, program or nation. The concept of sustainability and sustainable development becomes even more critical for a fast developing nation like India as larger population of India is dependent on the agrarian economy and is vulnerable to the adverse climate effects. With economic development and infrastructural development taking the centre stage, it becomes quintessential to consider the sustainability aspect of any activity that the nation takes up for its upliftment. Hence if we the people are to have sustainable development the government has an   important role to play in it. To accomplish this government must take initiative in formulating strategies, policies and programs that are conducive to the concept of “Precautionary Principle”. A major pre requisite for sustainable development in any sector is to have adaptive ability for the constantly changing needs & challenges and to be proactive in addressing those concerns.

Sustainability of any strategy, policy or program can only be achieved   by creating a shared understanding amongst the people who are involved in it either from the governance side or from the beneficiary side. Also creating an enabling environment and addressing the gaps in the system on regular basis along with the proper resource allocation to each aspect would help the program to sustain longer and function more efficiently which in turn would propel us in the direction of the goal with which the programme was started. Hence, not only creating a system is important but its proper functioning and the repair mechanism also play pivotal role in overall success or failure.

Coming to the NGO sector, due to their non profit status, they are not hindered by the short term financial objectives and hence can contribute to the long standing causes like climate change and international ban on mercury. Also NGOs enjoy greater degree of public trust and can be very useful in addressing the issues that have impact on the society. With more and more NGOs focusing their energy on the government and inter-governmental processes they can act as a catalyst for bringing out the changes in the common practices. NGOs can also help by engaging private corporations around their sustainability initiatives. This will not only help in developing more cost-effective and impactful corporate sustainability programs but will also develop a sense of social and environmental responsibility in the corporate sector.

While some NGOs are research driven and look to engage with decision makers others tend to work as watch dogs and provide the critical details on current scenario. It would be interesting to see the collaboration MNCs and NGOs in terms of values and resources as this will open the doors for endless opportunities for business innovation with meaningful social impact and hence a better tomorrow.