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Business Sustainability: A cleaner production approach to small business management

Student Manual

Environment Australia
October 2000
ISBN 0642547149


Business Sustainability: Session 15 - Environmental Awareness

OVERVIEW
Objective of this Session To develop an awareness of environmental issues and their importance in building sustainability
The following topics will be covered in this session
Population and Consumption
Global Sustainability
Awareness of Environmental Impact Paths

Population and Consumption

World Population Growth

World population is now over 6 billion and is expected to reach 11 billion people by the year 2060. The greater part of population growth is in the developing world, including China, India, South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Resource Consumption

Per capita consumption of resources is also increasing throughout the world. However, the vast majority of the world's resources are consumed in the developed world. For example, a child born into the industrial world adds more to consumption and pollution over their lifetime than do 30-50 children born in developing world. It has been calculated that if the amount of resources currently used to sustain industrialised nations was replicated for the global population, it would be equal to at least three times the earth's carrying capacity.

The following table shows the consumption pressures on world resources and documents some of the corresponding environmental impacts.

State of the World Environment (1950-1997)

Year 1950 1972 1997
Population (billion people) 2.5 3.8 5.8
Megacities (more than 8 million people) 2 9 25
Food (av daily calories/capita) 1,980 2,450 2,770
Fisheries (annual catch in million tons) 19 58 91
Water Use (annual use in cubic kilometres) 1,300 2,600 4,200
Rainforest cover (index, 1950=100) 100 85 70
Elephants (millions) 6 2 0.06
CO2 emissions (billions tons carbon per annum) 1.6 4.9 7.0
Ozone layer (CFCs in parts/billion) n.a. 1.4 3.

Source: World Resources Institute

Environmental Issues

The graphs on Page 86 show a number of the environmental issues shaping the future of the planet. Increase in labour cost and decrease in resource costs, increased population, continuing economic growth, use of natural resources and environmental problems are all evident. Continual increases in all these factors mean that something must be done to minimise the environmental damage arising from human activity. Throughout the world, it is now recognised that action has to be taken to stop the environmental damage, and to reverse it where possible. In an attempt to limit environmental problems, environmental legislation and regulation is increasing.

Environmental Legislation

In Australia, in all States and Territories as well as at the Federal level, environmental legislation and regulation has been put in place, adding to the pressure to clean up our industries before it is too late. But something more than legislation is required, to enable continued economic development without continuing to pollute the world.

Environmental issues shaping the future

Global Sustainability

Class Activity 1

Objective: to develop the ability to recognise the environmental effects of human society.

For each of the graphs on the previous page, discuss:

Awareness of Environmental Impact Paths

Introduction

In this section, teams are prompted to take a brief look at some of the environmental impacts of our present patterns of resource consumption and insufficient care against pollution.

Class Activity 2

Objective: to consider the environmental effects of human activities and how those effects can be minimised.

Discuss each of the following problem areas:

What actions can you suggest to resolve these problems?
What can you add to this list of environmental problems, and what actions can you suggest to help alleviate those problems?

Session Close

In Session 3, the teams learnt how to start a business on the path to sustainable development, the path to cleaner production. In this session, you were introduced to the bigger picture, to see how the world community must develop sustainable patterns of resource use and protection of the environment, in order to sustain itself. This course is focussed on how business, especially small businesses, can take action to reinforce their own sustainability and, at the same time, contribute to an overall sustainable development of industry and society.