What is economic sustainability?

In technical terms, economic sustainability refers to the long-term economic growth of businesses, communities and nations through practices that don’t have any negative social, environmental and cultural impacts. It implies a critical awareness of how inter-connected these areas are: none exist in isolation.

In recent decades, the damage wrought by governments and corporations on the planet and its people — almost always in the name of profit — has been devastating. But the tide is shifting, and the lip service that some organisations have offered in the past is no longer enough.

Consumers have started to demand more from the companies with which they engage. They want transparency and accountability; the minimising of environmental impacts and the maximising of social benefits.

In order to succeed, businesses need to understand that profit and impact are fundamentally fused, and those that fail to incorporate this approach into their strategies will be left behind. They’ll become unsustainable themselves.

The same goes for governments. In order to ensure that national economies are sustainable and able to meet the needs of their people, they need to be considered together with the social, environmental and cultural fabric in which they are found. In many ways, 4IR innovations offer the means through which this integration can be achieved and made meaningful in the long term.