Re-inventing sustainability

6 November 2020

Matteo Mura, Scientific Director of the Sustainability Transition Management Master’s course at BBS, takes stock of the situation on businesses, innovation, resources, and sustainability.

 Among the most discussed topics before the pandemic, sustainability could now be at a turning point. It was only six months ago; it feels like a century has gone by. It’s one of the many effects of the global pandemic, one that makes us feel as if we’ve been catapulted into a future that is far too distant to be intelligible, over a period of time that’s too short to be acceptable.

Just six months ago, we talked almost every day of the need to innovate in all the directions of the Agenda 2030, underlining how Innovation, Ethics and Sustainability were the guiding lights to develop business models able to win the test of the Green New Deal, but also the increasingly tough judgment of consumers.

Today, we’re witnessing a need of renewal for companies, mostly coming from the need to improve the management of one’s resources to face the largest global economic crisis since WW2.

We asked Matteo Mura, Associated Professor of Management and Economic Engineering at the University of Bologna and Scientific Director of the Sustainability Transition Management Master’s course at BBS, to take stock of the situation on innovation, resources, ethics and sustainability in such a complex historical period.

“Today, sustainability is no longer an issue of ethics, it’s a question of survival. In market terms as well. If on the one hand, the companies’ request in a period of crisis, could be to loosen the demands for compliance in terms of sustainability, on the other, a short-sighted vision wouldn’t lead to a real growth over the medium-long term. There are different reasons for this. The most obvious is that the European Union regulations on sustainability are far from being loosened. On the contrary, the investment dynamics at a European level will consolidate, more and more, on two main directions: digital innovation and sustainability. Funds will be available for those who will decide to innovate and go ahead, not for those who, although understandably scared, will try to go back. Another reason is strictly linked to the market. The pandemic, with last spring’s lockdown, showed us that restoring the health of our natural ecosystems is still possible, even though of course nobody wishes that the price to be paid is economic degrowth. Consumers are and will be more and more responsive to proposals that feature environmental sustainability and the wellbeing of people. Finally, let’s not forget that often the fear of the Italian SMEs is the outcome of bad communication and poor knowledge. No need to turn your business model upside down to implement more sustainable solutions. A baby-step policy leads to important and real results, without significantly affecting consolidated systems. For instance, a possible first step is to use energy from renewable sources, starting to demand that your supplier certifies origin. In Italy, 40% of installed electrical power is from renewable energy and renewable energy sources account for about 20% of domestic consumption.”

Therefore, choosing sustainability is not only a duty, but it’s also less complicated than you’d think when you don’t know its mechanisms in depth. Help may come from new managerial figures accessing the market, professionals able to provide consultancy suitable to our enterprises. This is the aim of BBS Master on Sustainability, which have been developed to meet an ever-increasing request by companies that intend to and can follow this direction.


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