Could addressing the social factor be the missing link in resolving the sustainability issue?

Could addressing the Social Factor be the missing link in resolving the sustainability issue?

Sustainability has become a buzzword in recent years, with a growing interest in the business world. However, while engaging the prospects of the utopia’s sustainability promises, more problems have been discovered.

What makes the sustainability problem difficult is not so much the problem itself as it is the way problem solvers have approached it. There are solutions to the climate crisis problem, but very little has been accomplished, at least not as much as is expected.

“Could it be that we’re dealing with a difficult social issue?”

Observing the impact of solutions developed over 149 years to address the problem of environmental sustainability provides us with a clue.

The solutions:

  1. Conservation parks: Beginning with Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The idea was that wilderness areas and wildlife were fast disappearing and that the problem could be solved by the creation of conservation parks.
  2. End-of-pipe regulation: such as pollution limits, fines, and cleanup funding, like Super Fund.
  3. Beginning-of-pipe regulation: such as mandated use of best technology. This solution was preferred to end of pipe regulations because it is much cheaper to prevent pollution in the first place than to deal with it later.
  4. International treaties: like the Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol.
  5. Economic instruments: like carbon taxes and emission permit trading.

The outcomes of these and millions of other similar efforts collectively look like this;


The solutions are not inherently flawed, but they have yet to be proven effective in addressing the sustainability issue. It is clear that some system components have not yet been optimized to provide the support required to achieve the set goal of the understudied solutions. The social dimension of the solutions is a major example of such a component.

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional and intellectual – systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irrisistably toward our destiny, whatever the latter maybe.

– William James

The real adversary is not the problem itself, but our approach to solving it. This phenomenon has an impact on every stakeholder in the value chain, from designers to implementors to society as a whole. Critical assessment of the risks and opportunities associated with these solutions through the lens of ESG, including determining how our social construct would impact and be impacted by it, provides insight into how to improve their chances of success.

Walt Kelly’s famous Pogo cartoon: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Furthermore, addressing the Sustainability issue necessitates a systemic approach that considers how our actions and activities impact and can be used to address the environmental and socioeconomic issues plaguing our planet while providing excellent business returns for stakeholders willing to solve these issues in a sustainable manner.



Making sustainability an integral part of your business model could increase its profitability.
Climatr works with organizations to turn Corporate Sustainability into a sustainable competitive advantage by designing and implementing an ESG roadmap.

We can assist your organization in capitalizing on ESG opportunities to increase profitability, deliver economic value, and improve performance for stakeholders. Speak with us


About the Author

Henry Ukoha Climatr

Henry Ukoha is a systems practitioner and professional in the circular economy. An avid researcher and cleantech enthusiast who is passionate about developing sustainable business models, optimizing business processes and operations, and designing products and services from an innovative perspective.

He is driven by his intense passion for the environment and approaches his work from a systems perspective, paying special attention to the circular economy and cradle-to-cradle design principles, thereby strategically positioning an organization in the green economy.

He collaborates with both the public and private sectors to create a more sustainable product/service offering.


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