I know that we have all heard this phrase a number of times now. So what does ‘Sustainable Development’ mean? Is it about being green and improving energy efficiency or caring out your employees and the community? Does it mean planting trees or being responsible about the products one sells?

And why should one think about sustainable development? Does it translate into increasing revenues and profits? Does it help a company enter new developing markets easily by gaining the community’s confidence? Does it increase the confidence of customers and strengthens the belief of employees? Does it help save energy and improve process efficiency across the supply chain? The answer is : “It depends.”

Be it Exxon Mobil or WalMart, the two global giants, every company is thinking about sustainability today. It’s a race and nobody wants to be left behind. And yes, these organizations do think about ROI (Return on Investment) before they plunge into incorporating sustainable practices. Well, some of it is just talk but a lot of it is real substance.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a network-based organization that has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework and is committed to its continuous improvement and application worldwide. GRI is a non-profit based out of Amsterdam and has about 80 indicators and several sector supplements as metrics for sustainability reporting and these metrics cover economic, environmental and social indicators. GRI is being used by thousands of companies worldwide for reporting.

As Acara Challenge team members and future social entrepreneurs, I think it is really important for us to ensure that we look at every aspect of our venture’s plan and see to it that all the practices of our venture are sustainable and do not harm the environment or communities, we work with, in any way. Instead, we should focus on how we can create value for every stakeholder of the venture.