Six Ways to Build Sustainability into Projects
Addressing climate change is everyone’s responsibility, from the lunchroom to the C-suite. However, making sustainability initiatives part of “business as usual” has proven to be challenging for many companies.
PMI’s Global Megatrends 2022 report offers a detailed look at how the Climate Crisis is making organizations rethink and retool their business models to adopt sustainable practices.
Grace Najjar, Managing Director of Project Management Institute, MENA commented on this saying: “This global trend is also seen here locally in the MENA region, with countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar all turning their focus to sustainability.
"It has been a key focus throughout the execution of mega-projects such as Expo 2020 in the UAE, the Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia, and the Stadium 974 in Qatar.”
According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession®: Why Social Impact Matters, in order to make sustainability a strategic priority, teams need to have an action plan and measure their efforts with hard data.
Six success factors emerged from this research as critical for sustainability projects:
1. Engage local stakeholders. This often requires a cultural shift and skill at facilitating change and creating economic incentives and value for the community or region a project will impact.
2. Take a zero-waste approach. You can take inspiration from natural processes, what comes from the soil goes back to the soil - everything is circular.
3. Look at every component of the value chain. Looking at the full life cycle of a sustainable product—from sourcing to production to distribution to disposal—is likely to reveal that it isn't as sustainable as expected or creating much impact.
4. Understand that trade-offs among people, planet and profit are not necessary. Sustainability is the optimum utilization of resources and when using a sustainable approach in business, you need to look at all the touch points - right from the raw material to the consumer and even disposal. Once you have this entire channel laid out, the economics will automatically improve.
5. Do a full risk assessment to ensure you achieve the desired outcomes. Even a project that might seem straightforward, such as planting trees, has many facets that should be considered, including security, government regulations, stakeholder and community management, water supplies and the impact on biodiversity.
6. Invest in technology. This may be the only way to turn the tide on climate change. New technologies like direct air capture and carbon mineralization could one day remove carbon at the scale required.
By incorporating these practices, project professionals and teams have the ability to make a more sustainable, greener world a reality.