Sustainability Awards – why these are so important

With our planet seriously under threat, ACCA SA Marketing and Promotions Manager, Karen Smal believes organisations and individuals should be encouraged to account for their impact on the planet.

Our planet is under threat. On the 31st October 2011 Danica May Camacho was born in Manilla in the Phillipines. The UN chose Danica to symbolically mark the achievement, of the global population milestone, the world’s seven billionth baby.

Most alarming within a period of only 39 years – 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach nine million, an increase in population equivalent to the population of another two Chinas.

We have every reason to be concerned. Scientists already caution that the world’s current population is three times higher than the sustainable level. The world’s population currently consumes 50% more resources than the earth produces.

While population density threatens the world’s sustainability, the impact of global warming, is also threatening our planet’s sustainability.

Scientists estimate that the sea ice in the Arctic could disappear by 2020. Warmer air masses will increase the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. White surfaces, which reflect heat, will be replaced by dark water, which absorbs heat. The warmer water will melt the offshore permafrost. Methane emitted from the arctic shelves will further accelerate global warming. In 2012 atmospheric methane was estimated to be 260% higher than the pre-industrial level. Unless drastic measures are taken, this will continue to increase.

Carbon dioxide pollution levels are also accelerating rapidly. The problem with carbon dioxide pollution is the fact that it remains in the air for a century, effectively locking in the impact of global warming.

Global water resources are also under increasing pressure. To feed a burgeoning global population, over the next 40 years our planet will be expected to produce 70% more food. This is alarming when one considers that currently close to one billion people are malnourished.

Global climate change will impact on the availability of water through changes in rainfall, soil moisture, river and groundwater flows. Glaciers are expected to disappear: this will reduce long-term water supplies. Southern Africa and South Asia are predicted to be the most vulnerable regions to climate change-related food shortages by 2030.

In addition, humans are also, altering the oceans, waterways, forests and the biodiversity that allows us to flourish.

The only way that we are going to succeed in our quest to create a sustainable planet for future generations is to make individuals and business accountable for their consumption and production impacts.

Herein lies the importance of ACCA SA’s Sustainability Reporting Awards. Our awards encourage reporting on sustainability – economic, environmental and social performance of businesses and organisations in South Africa; reward best practice; and increase accountability for impacts on and responsiveness to stakeholders.

There is much truth in the maxim: “What gets measured gets done.” Our planet is too fragile to leave the impact of humankind’s footprint to chance.

ACCA SA Marketing and Promotions Manager

Karen Smal

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