THE 1990s TV series Captain Planet portrayed heroes with super powers helping the environment. Now businesses also seem to believe in the slogan, ‘the power is yours’.
Planet Earth has reached the crossroads, at which businesses have to change their ways, says Griffith University Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise director Malcolm McIntosh.
Facing severe economic, social and environmental risks, ‘business-as-usual’ is no longer a sustainable option, he says.
However, Westpac, Rio Tinto and other major corporations have invested considerable funds in sustainability reporting.
“Climate change, resource depletion, efficiency and rising energy costs are central to any business operations right now. Every company understands that developing a sustainable enterprise economy and human rights are important to humanity’s survival,” says McIntosh.
Such realisations have fuelled interest in Griffith’s sustainable business courses, which teach the so-called triple bottom-line approach to business: balancing profits, people and the environment.
“Business and society are faced with many issues including the new carbon tax, waste disposal and emissions. Sharing the planet with eight billion people we know air, water and oil are finite resources,” says McIntosh.
“An organisation’s impact on environmental and social issues is as important as the bottom-line. A lack of commitment to these issues can result in increasing public scrutiny, with serious consequences for an organisation’s future and its employees.”
McIntosh says companies that ignore sustainability risk attracting ‘nasty surprises’.
“During the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP said it could clear up the mess in a matter of days but they couldn’t. Some coal-seam gas companies in Queensland are surprised by farmer unrest over the risk of fracking disasters. Companies ahead of the game could predict what would happen instead of being surprised,” he says.
Companies that fail to uphold environmental or human rights obligations can be ‘named and shamed’ for their abuses, according to McIntosh.
“Westpac, Rio Tinto and Australia’s top 100 companies all fall under the United Nations Global Compact, which covers human rights, labour standards and the environment,” he says.
“Most environmental issues are also human rights issues. Some rights are tangible including access to clean water, air and green space – and work safety requirements and how much you pay workers.”
Sustainable tourism courses are also becoming popular due to the high volume of overseas and interstate visitors to southeast Queensland each year.
The recent economic turmoil has pressured tourism operators to give government, businesses and the community maximum economic returns, while minimising the negative environmental impacts of tourism.
The sustainable tourism course explores tourism planning, marketing and promotion and economic development. It also covers specialised sectors including the wine industry, cultural tourism and ecotourism.
Griffith University has also received a five-star rating for its Master of Business Administration (MBA) and International MBA programs from the Graduate Management Association of Australia.
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