Sustainability – Backwards Thinking for Poverty

Sustainability is folly without a good foundation

I am all for everyone conserving resources and being thoughtful with what we do to our planet. We even have several electric vehicles sitting around at our facility. But I wonder if SUSTAINABILITY might be misconstrued by those providing assistance to the developing nations.

Concrete Supply Chain must be sustainableHere in the US there are GreenBiz Forums that discuss topics such as “Creating Supply Chain Value through Sustainability”.
At these events the thought leaders discuss how saving resources and championing alternative innovations will make life better for everyone on the planet. Sustainability seems to be the foundational word for an ever expanding green industry.

It is true that many supply chains would see a long-term benefit from being more sustainable. But in the grand scheme of things, don’t poor countries view sustainability from a different perspective?

Is it possible that a functioning construction supply chain is more important to their sustainability than suppliers being more green? Maybe it is just an adjustment in semantics, but I believe they would choose a solid foundation and strong walls for their homes, over a value chain that is more energy independent? We might also ask if the donors to the rebuilding efforts believe that continuing poor construction practices are a sustainable investment?

The ability to sustain the integrity of a home during an earthquake is a direct result of the quality of the construction supply chain that supported the initial construction. Without a strong concrete foundation, good engineering and appropriate building practices, home sustainability is a failed idea. Yet we continue to leave our energy-efficient lifestyles of the industrialized world to participate in development projects where we “make-do” with a broken supply system.

We contend that building a strong construction supply chain is a more sustainable practice and a better investment strategy for these developing nations. A sustainable construction system would result in a reduction in the loss of life and property, while at the same time building economic strength for the region. If being more sustainable is a long-term investment in saving the world’s resources, then we should save the resources it takes to rebuild, over and over again in poor nations.

I understand that fixing concrete for the poor is not as sexy as changing out the light bulbs and starting an office recycling system. But the benefits of sustainability should reach even the most remote villages of our planet in a way that changes their lives.

Do you think sustainability discussions are backwards for some regions of the world?

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About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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