Considering Sustainability in Project Management Processes

Considering Sustainability in Project Management Processes

Gilbert Silvius (LOI University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands & Van Aetsveld, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0196-1.ch096
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Sustainability is one of the most important challenges of our time. How can prosperity be developed without compromising the life of future generations? Companies are integrating sustainability in their marketing, corporate communication, annual reports and in their actions. The concept of sustainability has more recently also been linked to project management. Sustainability needs change of business models, products, services, resources, processes, etc. and projects are a frequently used practice of realizing change. Several studies explored how the concept of sustainability impacts project management. This chapter elaborates on the impact of sustainability found in literature and analyses the most influential standards of project management processes for their coverage of this impact. The study concludes that the most important standards of project management processes still fail to refer convincingly to sustainability considerations. Based on the author's analysis, this chapter also provides guidance for the further development of the process standards towards a ‘sustainable project management' process.
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The Dimensions Of Sustainability

The balance between economic growth and social wellbeing has been around as a political and managerial challenge for over 150 years (Dyllick & Hockerts, 2002). Also the concern for the wise use of natural resources and our planet emerged already many decades ago, with Carson’s book “Silent Spring” (Carson, 1962) as a launching hallmark. In 1972 the ‘Club of Rome’, an independent think tank, published its book “The Limits to Growth” (Meadows et al., 1972). In the book, the authors concluded that if the world’s population and economy would continue to grow at their current speeds, our planet’s natural resources would approach depletion. The Limits to Growth fuelled a public debate, leading to installation of the UN ‘World Commission on Development and Environment’, named the Brundtland Commission after its chair. In their report, the Brundtland commission defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). By stating that “In its broadest sense, sustainable development strategy aims at promoting harmony among human beings and between humanity and nature”, the report implies that sustainability requires also a social and an environmental perspective, next to the economical perspective, on development and performance.

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