The Knowledgebase


Shared understanding

Bringing purpose to life

Stewardship of people, values and resources (sustainability)

We need to find sustainable ways of helping human communities flourish and treasure and sustain the environment around us. A fundamental point of this behaviour is that it recognises the interconnectivity of people and planet, as the current Sustainable Development Goals also do.

There is a threefold model of contributing to sustainability, allowing us to leverage our influence and knowledge:

  1. Be alert to the harm we cause (no willful blindness) and take control of what we can
  2. Join with others to help address damage we are causing but cannot deal with on our own
  3. Share the expertise we have gained to help others address problems that we have not caused but for which we have knowledge that could help in tackling them.

Each level is guided by seeking to contribute, in a minor or a major way, direct or indirect, to a broader common good.

Sustainability includes handing down knowledge and stewardship of people, values and resources. Stewardship captures the idea of treasuring, caring for, using well. A steward holds something in trust for someone else; in a real sense, we hold the communities and environment in which we operate, in trust, as part of the ongoing life of our communities and our planet.

The shift in mindset which this section describes is vividly pictured in the very different ways businesses respond to the social and environmental context in which they work, how they address and deal with externalities, and how they see their role as an agent of change in an economic system faced with an urgent need to adapt and address both social inequalities and climate change.

Questions to consider:

The following questions are a way of considering the evolution of habitual practice which this section seeks to describe, from a starting point of self-interest alone to an aspiration:

  • Am I using, extracting and depleting?
  • Am I seeking to minimise my own negative impact?
  • Am I developing people, replenishing resources and collaborating with others for the benefit of all?