My New Year’s Sustainability Resolutions!

It seems a long time ago already, but 2023 ended with a momentous shift in the global debate on tackling man-made climate change at COP28.  Many, very understandably, felt that our political leaders assembled in Dubai were sloping their shoulders on tackling the climate emergency.  But, COP28 was historic as it was the very first time that world leaders came together and made a collective resolution to transition away from fossil fuels.

So, with world leaders having made this critical commitment, my mind turned to what my own sustainability commitments should be for the year ahead.  So, below I set out my New Year’s Sustainability Resolutions for you!

Resolution 1: To always give priority to creating long-term social value than short-term financial gain

The dictionary definition of sustainability is “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” It means looking at the long-term impact of our actions, recognising that (especially in the environmental context) we only have a finite amount of resources within which we have to manage.  Turning a quick buck for individual benefit at the expense of creating long-term social impact for all is both morally objectionable and, in the long-term, poor business sense.

Resolution 2: To always put quality provision at the top of our priorities

In social care, nothing trumps the delivery of great care provision for those that we are entrusted to support.  High-quality provision should be the bedrock of our business and our sustainability approaches.  Every decision in social care should start from a simple question: ‘will this enable us to deliver better care for our clients?  If we can’t answer this question positively, the debate should end there.

Resolution 3: To always ensure that commitments to the planet, our people and the communities in which we operate are at the heart of our corporate strategy

Sustainability is not a fad.  It is not a “nice to have”, nor something to do when things are going well. Sustainability should define how we do business and should be reflected in every aspect of our corporate approach.  To do otherwise is to fundamentally misunderstand what sustainability is about – and will always end up delivering poor results.

Resolution 4: To always seek to play a leadership role in the social care sector and contribute to its wider development

The pendulum on sustainability in social care has definitely shifted. It’s great to hear of new initiatives, new approaches and new players n the social care sustainability space each week! I am honoured to have founded and chair the Social Care Sustainability Alliance, which will hopefully be able to harness this enthusiasm and accelerate the scale and pace of change. The more of us that talk about this agenda and the more we help each other, the stronger and quicker that change will then be effected.

Resolution 5: To always place a premium on honesty, transparency and integrity in the way we do business

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination; and, let’s face it, we’re all trying to work out the route.  As we discover what works for us, it’s really important to share that knowledge openly so that others might be able to learn. Equally, we will make mistakes – and the learning from mistakes is just as valuable, often more so, than from successes.  Making real progress on sustainability rests on the two key factors of intention and honesty: doing things for the right reasons, and being open about where things have gone right and wrong.

Finally, my most important resolution is to always try to ensure that my personal actions align with my words.  Practising what you preach is always important, but especially so when it comes to sustainability; persuading whole organisations to do the right – often difficult – thing will fall flat when others can see the gap between rhetoric and reality.  I will no doubt fall short of expectations (my own as much as others) but I’ll do my best!

Originally published in Caring Times