Researcher: Indicators and methods of sustainable development one-sided

November 21, 2012

The European SustainValue research project coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland develops new types of tools for sustainable industrial development. According to Senior Scientist Teuvo Uusitalo of VTT, the methods and indicators used at present entail risks, since they tend to over-emphasize the economic perspective and that of individual companies.

"Methods are required that take the social and environmental impacts of business operations better into account, both within the company and among its network of partners and ," says Uusitalo. "If a change cannot be effected, the current unsustainable way of life will continue, and we might also miss some opportunities for creating new business. is at stake here."

According to Uusitalo, other companies and customers demand that companies take a wider view of .

" will also inevitably lead development in this direction. , for example, are becoming stricter by the year. Leading European companies have grasped the situation, but the rest are only just beginning to wake up."

Business networks that take into account sustainable development create lasting added value. However, companies have lacked concrete tools for ensuring that their partners are acting according to the same principles of sustainable development. The SustainValue project, coordinated by VTT, has now created such tools. The tools can be used to demonstrate where value is being created and where it is being destroyed.

A networked way of thinking is the key innovation of the SustainValue project. A design method that will help develop and measure the of products and services is already being piloted by companies. Here, too, the method focuses on networks and the complete of products. In the end, selling comprehensive solutions might be more worthwhile than selling products.

Another tool created by the project is one that illustrates through visual means the creation of value. This method reveals the positive and negative values that a company's business operations produce for its stakeholders, among others.

"We are also developing a set of indicators for assessing the economic, social and environmental impacts of business in the entire network of stakeholders and partners," says Uusitalo. "The indicators that as such are currently applied to the evaluation of sustainability impacts are inappropriate for assessing the impacts of networked activities."

Another important objective of the project is to transfer the results into European standardization.

With the help of reliable indicators, companies can communicate to their customers that their actions are in line with the principles of sustainable development.

Explore further: Corporate social responsibility: less profit, more value

More information: Project website: www.sustainvalue.eu/index.htm

Related Stories

Corporate social responsibility: less profit, more value

February 7, 2008

Companies that operate in a socially responsible manner 'pay' for this with a loss in financial profit. Yet at the same time, socially responsible business practices can enhance a company's value. Dutch economist Lammertjan ...

Software solution identifies skills gaps in the workplace

August 3, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Training employees to do their jobs effectively is something many companies would like to - and need to - improve. Now European researchers are developing software tools to ensure skills gaps are identified ...

Why are some people greener than others?

June 12, 2012

Differences in attitudes and cultural values could have far-reaching implications for the development of a sustainable global society, according to an analysis to be published in the International Journal of the Sustainable ...

The art of sustainable development

October 19, 2012

Einstein said that we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking used when we created them. Wise words, except few people heed them when it comes to sustainable solutions for our ailing planet. Despite decades ...

Recommended for you

Amateur paleontologist finds rare fossil of fish in Arizona

September 3, 2015

Growing up, Stephanie Leco often would dig in her backyard and imagine finding fossils of a tyrannosaurus rex. She was fascinated with the idea of holding something in her hand that was millions of years old and would give ...

X-rays reveal fossil secrets

September 3, 2015

A sophisticated imaging technique has allowed scientists to virtually peer inside a 10-million-year-old sea urchin, uncovering a treasure trove of hidden fossils.

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.