Carlowitz (1645-1714), chief mining officer of the city of Freiberg, Germany, was one of the first to define the concept of sustainability using forestry as an example: According to him, a forest should only be logged to the extent that it can regenerate naturally within a reasonable period of time. Sustainability should therefore ensure that the essential characteristics of a regenerative, natural ecosystem are preserved for future generations, even under permanent management.
In the meantime, the term has been further developed and expanded, but the principle remains unchanged: Sustainable management satisfies the needs of the present in such a way that future generations will be able to satisfy their needs equally.
Two developments in particular are forcing us to change: global warming and global population growth. The study "Review on the Economics of Climate Change" by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern states: "Climate change is the biggest and most far-reaching market failure in world history". We are already bearing the economic consequences today:
Globally, around one percent of the gross domestic product (approx. 270 billion euros) is spent annually to counteract climate change. At the same time, we urgently need a fairer distribution of growth and prosperity between North and South, between industrialized polluters and affected developing countries: 20 percent of the world's population cause a large part of the global environmental damage, the consequences of which are borne by the remaining 80 percent through no fault of their own.
We understand this global challenge as an opportunity: For us, sustainability means innovation, which picks up on a central problem and proposes a solution from which numerous commercial potentials arise. For example, it creates the opportunity to develop efficient new technologies, processes and process engineering.
Companies that have consistently integrated the idea of sustainability into their business processes already enjoy a number of advantages:
In the following, we would like to illustrate how sustainability is practically applied in our projects: