Human well-being in society is the fundamental key to development and is part of the signal to measure economic growth. To achieve economic growth in a given society, there should be the improvement of people’s welfare, and achievement of economic development requires efficient use of available natural resources to ensure that people live in a healthy environment. In any society, the quality of life depends on how the stakeholders make use of efficient use of natural resources to maintain sustainable economic development. (Salih, 2003). Studies have revealed that technology can enhance methods of making use of available natural resources to enhance sustainable development.
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This paper examines the extent to which technology can achieve sustainability. To examine how technology can enhance sustainable development in a given society, it is essential to explore the term sustainability.
What is sustainability?
Scholars have provided different definitions of sustainability. Kermath (2006) defines sustainability as a scientific methodology of making credible use of natural resources to enhance economic development. An increase in population and the gradual disappearance of available resources have led to human-induced environmental degradation. Achieving sustainability requires discovering, adapting, and implementing appropriate strategies, policies and technologies to move society in an ideal state of existence. The definition of sustainability provided by Faber, Jorna, and Engelen (2005) is similar to the definition provided by other authors previously examined. Authors refer to sustainability as a policy of handling problems of global ecology and economic development. Typically, sustainability applies to the measures of achieving economic growth through the sustainable use of natural resources.
Sustainability embraces improving the quality of human life with efficient use of resources, and energy towards the attainment of a sustainable society. The objectives of sustainability require social progress to ensure the needs of everyone in society. In addition, sustainability requires prudent use of natural resources and maintenance of economic growth and development. (Barnsley, 2009).
Typically, policymakers and corporate organisations have made several initiatives in incorporating technology into the principle of sustainability as discussed in the next section.
Incorporating the principles of sustainability into technology
Technological is essential to economic growth and has played a double-edged role in achieving improvement of human welfare. For example, Information Technology has to lead to efficient use of logistics in corporate organisations to improve sustainable development. Many organisations have made use of IT-designed packages to reduce wastages, and there has been the incorporation of Technology in the supply chain for ecological improvement. Apart from this, corporate organisations have also realised that there is a need to be environmentally friendly to enhance market and competitive advantages. Thus, most organisations have now incorporated sustainable technology into their corporate governance. For example, most corporate organisations use IT tools to design products that are environmentally friendly and products with low carbon emissions for the enhancement of sustainability. (University of Sussex, 2009, Neil, O’Hara, 2007).
Additionally, corporate organisations have launched green design or eco-design to comply with government laid down policy of ecological sustainability by using a computer software tool to evaluate products greenish, and products life cycle as well as minimization of costs. Typically, the objectives of embarking on a greenish design for their products are to be environmentally friendly and facilitate waste minimisation. Typically, IT tools have improved aid eco-industrial symbiosis where reuse of construction waste, and recycle among corporate organisations. For example, many governments in Europe, and some countries in Asia have launched IT integrated decision support systems to monitor, control river pollution, and control environmental degradations that affect sustainability in the societies. In addition, some governments especially China and UK have equipped their Technological IT database to enhance the ecological environment, water resources, and environmental protection. (Sarkis, Zhuu, 2008).
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A report from Wacker (2008) reveals that integrating IT policy in sustainability creates a smarter solution for sustainable living. For example, most European governments have adopted the use of satellite, and digital cameras to monitor the environment, and truly address environmental problems. Moreover, most companies have adopted policies of using computer-designed strategies to design non-pollutant products such as electric bulbs for the reduction of carbon emissions. Although, there are some criticisms levied on technological sustainable initiatives embarked upon by governments and corporate organisations. Some commentators have argued that corporate organisations have bypassed their primary objectives of protecting the interest of the shareholders by pursuing a policy of environmental protection. Although the critics of technological sustainability may have some points, however, evidence has shown that organisation has the objective of protecting the environment by achieving sustainability. Many corporate organisations realise that to win market shares, attract skilled employees, and achieve competitive advantages, it is essential to integrate sustainability into their policy. For example, records from Jones Sustainable Index have revealed over 300 firms have integrated sustainable initiatives in their policies. (Wade, 2005). Typically, Phillips is among the corporate firms that implement technology in sustainable improvement. For example, Phillips is widely known as a company that uses technology for the Eco-design of its Phillips Electronic products. System engineers and developers mostly implement Phillips’s eco-design strategy. (Sherwin, 2004).
In addition, Tesco plc, which is a leading retail store in Europe, installed energy-saving technology to reduce carbon emission. The cooling, heating and power (CCHP) were launched in 2007 to generate electricity for Tesco’s stores from sustainable biofuels, and this led to a reduction of carbon footprint. (Scot Wilson 2008). Tesco also invests approximately £86 million in energy-saving technology for stores. This is by installing combined heat and power (CHP) for low-energy lighting to reduce carbon emissions. For example, technology initiatives that Tesco plc has implemented have saved 66,000 tonnes of CO2 in Tesco stores, and have reduced CO2 emission by 5.8%. (Tesco, 2008).
Typically, most firms have realised that a clean environment enhances people’s well-being, economic growth and development, and improvement of corporate market advantages.
Technology is a dynamic tool to achieve environmental sustainability and economic growth. Many corporate organisations and governments have realised the importance of implementing technological sustainability in their corporate policies. The paper explores how government and corporate organisations have initiated technological sustainability in the policy in order to improve people’s well-being in society. Apart from the sustainability of the advantage contributes to firms’ images; technological sustainability also enhances firms’ market and competitive advantages. This report has shown that technology has become paramount to sustainability, and product innovation that firms have initiated has become a strategy to improve public image and compliance with government policy. The report has also shown that most governments have also initiated technological sustainability to be responsible to their citizen. This paper reveals how governments and corporate organisations can incorporate technology to achieve sustainability, and the extents governments and corporate organisations have been able to initiate technology to improve sustainability, and the report examines whether these initiatives are realisable.
This paper enhances the knowledge of governments, corporate organisations, and international organisations on the impact of technology on sustainability.
- Barnsley (2009), What is Sustainability, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
- Faber, N, Jorna, R, and Engelen, J, (2005), THE SUSTAINABILITY OF “SUSTAINABILITY” A STUDY INTO THE CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE NOTION OF “SUSTAINABILITY”, Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 7, (1) pp. 1–33.
- Kermath, B, (2006), What Is Sustainability & How Do We Get There? University of Wisconsin.
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- Wade, J, (2005), Easy Being GREEN, Risk Management, 52 ( 7) ABI/INFORM Global pg. 10