This learning journal documents my experience researching environmental and business topics. The specific topics are supply chains and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 11 – make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. My research led me to discover multiple other subjects directly or indirectly associated with supply chain and UN SDG, such as cosmopolitanism, triple bottom lines, the Oxfam Doughnut, win-win strategies for companies, and more. The following is a result of my research and observations.
First, knowing the limitations of the planet’s natural resources is needed to understand sustainability issues. These resources are not unlimited, so people started to understand that they must focus on sustaining Earth’s natural ecosystems (Kish & Quiley, 2021). As a response, sustainability has been implemented as the main goal for humanity by the United Nations. Osman and others (2021, para. 2) report: “In September 2015, the world leaders pledged support for sustained action around a universally agreed policy agenda” when writing about the 17 SDGs to be achieved by 2030. This information was not new to me; however, reading about the 11th goal was very insightful.
I received information about the UN SDG – 11 from the UN official site. Its main objectives are intensive focus on slum dwellers, managing municipal solid waste, and providing citizens with access to public transportation (United Nations). This goal will be challenging to fulfill because of rapid urbanization and population growth. As the number of people grows, more and more are seeking better prospects in large cities. Massive migration unto cities creates risk of rising unemployment and homelessness, especially in lesser developed countries. A study of Nigerian infrastructure concluded that will be possible shortages of water and shelter (Abubakar & Aina, 2019). For these reasons the local governments of developing countries have to implement the SDG-11 goal as efficiently as possible.
According to my observations, cosmopolitanism, the belief that all people belong to a single community, plays a role in sustainability policy. Rendtorff (2019) provides arguments for the ideals promoted by cosmopolitanism, such as morality will help spread sustainability principles. Groves (2019), on the contrary, argues that the cosmopolitan approach harms sustainability thinking and inhibits our ability to care about non-human entities. However, in my opinion, if a person understands how dependent civilization is on natural resources, they will spread sustainability thinking. They will likely believe it will lead to the conservation and improvement of the lives of struggling people in the world (the homeless, victims of discrimination, and others).
I found the term “supply chain” in many books and articles during my research. This term implies a chain connecting the supplier and consumer and encompassing all aspects of product making, from materials to shipping to the market. Many writers and researchers (Khan, 2019; Sarkis, 2019) have emphasized the importance of a green supply chain – GSC, that is lessening the impact industries have on the environment. Khan (2019, p. 7) explained: green material sourcing, marketing, management, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, and using renewable energy and biofuels. It pressures businesses to make eco-friendly products instead of forcing consumers to find and pay extra for them. Forming a supply chain based on these principles will greatly reduce the strain on the environment. Creating a sustainable global supply chain would decrease emissions significantly and lead to better air quality.
However, there are problems with implementing the green supply chain. According to Sarkis (2019), it “implies cost-related trade-offs between achieving over costs and higher social and environmental supplier compliance” (p. 17). All the above-mentioned steps of creating an eco-friendly supply chain create problems for small businesses that cannot afford massive spending on green supplies, which means they have to increase the final product’s price. This necessary action might deter a sizable number of potential buyers and lower profits. Businesses have to estimate the profit margins for eco-friendly products carefully. In my opinion, most will not risk investing their money into an item that will not pay itself off.
There are multiple strategies available to industries to maintain sustainability – creating a circular economy, shared value, and the small win approach. The circular economy is already being practiced in many industries; it promotes eco-friendly industrial processes, where the waste of one manufacturer becomes the input for another (Sarkis, 2019). Creating shared value means creating a product that brings large profits and helps consumers with their daily struggles (Emaeagwali, 2017). The small-win approach is organizations seeking commitment from volunteers and members (O’Connor, 2017). All of these strategies were new to me; in my opinion, all need to be implemented on a global scale to maintain sustainability.
Another discovery for me was the Doughnut Economist model by Kate Raworth. It has a social foundation, the basic needs for every human being, such as water and food, and an ecological ceiling, the planetary boundaries (Raworth, 2017). The principle of this model is finding a perfect balance between making sure people have enough resources for development and exhausting our planet’s natural resources. This model, to me, perfectly encapsulates the idea of sustainability – meeting humanity’s needs within Earth’s means.
During my research, I learned of the UN sustainability goals, specifically the 11th goal of making cities safe and sustainable, and examined its application in the real world. I found that the principles are heavily reliant on local government participation. I also documented my opinions on cosmopolitanism and its effect on spreading sustainability thinking. Lastly, I examined the strategies for integrating sustainability into business and economics, such as a circular economy, the small-win approach and creating shared value.
Abubakar, R. I., & Aina, A. Y. (2019). The prospects and challenges of developing more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities in Nigeria. Land Use Policy 87(104105). Web.
Emaeagwali, L. (Ed.). (2017). Corporate governance and strategic decision making. BoD – Books on Demand.
Groves, C. (2019). Sustainability and the future: reflections on the ethical and political significance of sustainability. Sustain Sci 14, 915–924. Web.
Kish, K., & Quiley, S. (2021). Ecological limits of development: living with the sustainable development goals. Routledge.
Khan, A. R. S. (Ed.). (2019). Green practices and strategies in supply chain management. BoD – Books on Demand.
O’Connor, J. (2017). The effects of construal level and small wins framing on an individual s commitment to an environmental initiative. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 52, 1-10. Web.
Osman, T., Kenawy, E., Abdrabo, K. I., Shaw, D., Alshamndy, A., Elsharif, M., Salem, M., Alwetaishi, M., Aly, R. M., & Elboshy, B. (2021). Voluntary Local Review Framework to Monitor and Evaluate the Progress towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goals at a City Level: Buraidah City, KSA and SDG11 as A Case Study. Sustainability, 13(17), 9555. Web.
Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. Penguin Random House.
Rendtorff, J. D. (2019), “Ethics of Administration: Towards Sustainability and Cosmopolitanism”, Philosophy of Management and Sustainability: Rethinking Business Ethics and Social Responsibility in Sustainable Development, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-42. Web.
Sarkis, J. (Ed.). (2019). Handbook on the sustainable supply chain. Edward Elgar Publishing.
United Nations. (n.d.). United nations: department of social affairs: sustainable development. Web.