Most sustainability projects involve collecting and analyzing data on a complex, multi-faceted situation, and then using the results to develop proposed actions for a corporation, NGO, or government agency. By applying the principles of decision-support methods developed in the fields of economics and decision analysis we can more readily handle the tradeoffs that inevitably come with multidimensional problems.
And that’s the topic of “2 economic concepts every sustainability professional should know,” an article in GreenBiz by our own senior sustainability analyst Valentina Prado Ph.D. (I had the pleasure of providing some modest editorial assistance). Valentina draws on her experience teaching Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) theory and application in the masters-level Industrial Ecology program at the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) at Leiden University in the Netherlands, as well as her hands-on experience applying LCA and multi-criteria decision analysis.
As the article puts it, while there are a number of methods that can aggregate data (indicating economic, environmental and social performance) into a single metric, that doesn’t mean that a specific method properly reflects the objectives of any given analysis. “Understanding each method's underlying assumptions, strengths and weaknesses helps us apply them appropriately to the problem at hand and provide our colleagues with the most useful information,” explains Valentina.
This type of thinking is, to us at EarthShift Global, the hallmark of effective sustainability work. We provide our greatest service when we broaden our colleagues’ field of view without losing focus on the things that make our organizations successful. And we make ourselves trustworthy in that role by fully understanding our methods and processes.
Congratulations to Valentina on providing this important resource for our community, and we look forward to sharing more of her intelligence and insight in the future. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to see her discuss, please let us know in the comment section.
About the Author: Lise Laurin, CEO and Founder of EarthShift Global
Lise is a pioneer in Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). She continues to develop and leverage sustainability consulting services, LCA as well as SROI software and training programs to build organizational capacity in driving large-scale change. Her unique skill set and knowledge base has put her in demand globally by companies, organizations and governments alike.
Email Lise if you’re interested in a sustainability speaker for your next event.