Green Business: What International Development Can Teach Business About Metrics

Shoot for the stars, reach the moon.

The United Nations’ ambitious focus in the past 20 years to eliminate global poverty is commendable. Poverty is a huge, complex, systemically challenging set of interconnected problems.

For all the progress made, the process has not been without failures, omissions, mistakes, detours and missteps. All played out on the global stage. For everyone to see.

Sustainability practitioners face similarly complex, interconnected challenges that span the worlds of government, business and civil society.

There’s a lot we can learn from to learn from the work already done for us. All it takes is a willingness to look beyond our own sandboxes .

Here’s Part 3 of my co-authored series on Sustainability Metrics for Greenbiz.com.

What International Development Can Teach Business About Metrics

Since 2000, the International Development (ID) community’s battle to end (or substantially reduce) poverty by 2015 has played out on the world stage. There have been delays, defeats and some solid accomplishments. In doing so, the development community’s thinking has evolved about what best constitutes effective aid and how to know whether it’s working.

We find significant lessons for the sustainable business world in the story of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the groundbreaking shift towards metrics that occurred with the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action. The ID community has been considering questions of direction towards greater levels of sustainability and how to measure their actual effectiveness over 13 long years of debate and trial and error. We could learn from their longer experience with sustainability goals and metrics.

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