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Table of Contents

The idea and importance of pillar of sustainability are not new. It has been discussed and implemented across all phases of life. Sustainability can have different definitions from different concepts but has similar scope. We aim to keep the future intact while we succeed in our present dealings. 

Sustainability is often broken down into three different categories. They are called the three pillars of sustainability and they are intertwined. Together, these three pillars form the perfect framework for sustainability. Without them, it is impossible to achieve sustainability. They are social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability. 

Lately, another pillar has been added to form a perfect sustainability framework. Sustainability experts have seen culture as one of the integral parts of sustainability. 

The three pillars of sustainability 

Oftentimes, these are the pillars people talk about in sustainability. Until these three pillars are satisfied, sustainability is not said to be done. Although, culture is considered the fourth pillar of sustainability. The first three pillars of sustainability find their relevance in major phases of life. 

Social Pillar 

Sustainability at any phase in life doesn’t only depend on the government or business owners. It must be acknowledged and accepted by the majority. How do people see the sustainable plan? Are your goals achievable? A sustainable idea must gain the support and approval of the people. If a sustainable plan doesn’t meet their needs, the social pillar is affected. For companies who hire employees, how do you treat your employees? Do you use them for profit only, or do you care about them? These are all the questions the social pillar is asking. Are people fairly paid or underpaid for their work? Is the workspace safe enough? 

If a sustainability plan is not giving back to society, it is not fulfilling its duty. A sustainable idea should focus on retention and engagement strategies that further increase its positive reputation among people. The social pillar is responsible for practices that benefit everybody. 

Economic Pillar 

From a business point of view, profit is essential only at the right price. Meeting the needs of the people at a reasonable cost. Many companies prioritize making a profit at all costs which are not too good. Profit at all costs is not good for business and the customers involved. Concerning governance, the government must take necessary steps that make life easy for the people economically. What policies are in place to control the prices of goods and services? The economic pillar helps companies to adopt sustainable measures that enable them devise new ways of getting raw materials and transferring them. Through this, they will be able to cost down some costs. 

The government is seen to have a bigger role to play in having a strong economic pillar. Sometimes, the levy the government places on companies makes them increase their prices or reduce their quality. People will be willing to spend on things that are worth their price. The economic pillar maintains an honest and transparent economic practice and regulatory compliance. 

Environmental Pillar 

The environmental pillar is one of the most attended to among the pillars. Meeting human present needs is important, and the effect on our planet must be considered. The government and business owners should find ways of reducing carbon footprints on our planet. Besides helping the planet, it could be a positive financial impact. From mining raw materials, transportation, processing, and distribution, the negative impact must be reduced. We cannot neglect the impact of our needs satisfying activities and destroy the future. One of the problems of the environmental pillar is our inability to adopt changes. We should learn to reuse and recycle most of our resources. 

Water is one of the most wasted resources in the world. With lots of talks on this, people haven’t stopped polluting and wasting water in some parts of the world. 

Pillar of sustainability

Culture and Sustainability 

In a couple of years, culture has been emphasized as the fourth pillar of sustainability. Culture as defined in a dictionary means the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group. Culture is also seen as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an organization. Culture is an important means to measure how values, behaviors, and beliefs influence the inclusiveness, openness, and cohesion of societies. Culture influences the quality of life, habits, and correctional measures that can be transmitted. 

There is a knowledge that comes follows culture which is expected to last as long as a race or an institution exists. Culture creates a thread that keeps an organization or a society together and also gives people the idea of how to operate in an environment. Many people see culture as the catalyst to the creation and maintenance of values for mutual trust, respect for the law, and solidarity. This serves as a guidance and motivation for people to respect themselves and other people. The foundation of societal or organizational development can be drawn from culture. 

Culture has a connection with all other three pillars of sustainability. 

Culture and social pillar 

An organization or a society can be known through the way they behave. Before a group of people will work together to achieve a common goal, they must have agreed to a set of shared values which is culture. It is hard to bring in people with different backgrounds to work together, but what binds them together is the organization’s culture. Culture as an important force behind creativity helps the organization to have more than one approach to problems. 

Respect for people, colleagues, law, and authority are part of the organizational culture that strengthens sustainability. It also affects how people relate when there are conflicts among themselves and also how they motivate one another to achieve success. 

Culture and Economic Pillar 

There are lots of advantages that culture does to the economy. Culture has brought about uniqueness in the way we do things. Today, we have intercontinental restaurants where they make local meals from across the world. That alone has served as a job opportunity and a business means to some people, thereby affecting the economy positively. Aside from that, culture provides us with tourist attractions that have helped in the development of our economy.

An obvious example is the United Arab Emirates (UAE, Dubai). Literally, they were at disadvantage because of the harsh weather condition and was seen as a desert area in the early 90s. With the help of their forward-thinking leaders, they were able to develop their country through tourism and today Dubai is among one of the most visited places in the whole world. 

Culture and environmental pillar 

Culture has a deep connection with the environmental pillar. It influences lifestyles, behaviors, environmental values, consumption patterns, reproduction, and waste management. Some people in some parts of the world are known for rearing some animals which prevents them from extinction. Culture helps in tackling some ecological challenges and consumption patterns. Environmental management practices from culture provide valuable insights for sustainability. 

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Importance of culture in sustainability 

The importance of culture in sustainability is evident in our world today. Culture helps to promote economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social management. It brings about diversity in the way we do things and uniqueness in identities. Although most cultures are diminishing with the death of the older generations. Only a few of the new generations even know about their culture. Everyone seems to be adopting western culture. 

Culture provides us with diversified means in all areas of life. Some cultures are specialists in rearing some animals while some are good are making things (art and craft). Taking Florence in Italy as an example, the city was an important cultural, economic, political, and artistic force in Europe. The city was the center stage for businesses due to its cultural values. The indigenes further continued with the innovative and discovery culture. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What is the importance of cultural diversity in sustainable development? Cultural diversity is a core part of sustainable development. The UN general assembly declared every May 21 as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. 

2. How does culture affect the economy? Culture has a relationship with education, creative industries, and manufacturing companies in creating development targets. It also helps in providing innovative solutions in all areas of the economy. 

3. Can culture help alleviate poverty? Of course, culture can help in encouraging the low-scale producers of things. The truth is most of these people are underpaid for the value they provide. A look into the culture will promote sustainability by encouraging people to make more standard cultural values that they know will earn them money. 

Culture coupled with economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental sustainability; we have the base for sustainability. Sustainability requires knowing and ascertaining a region or an organization’s values, identity, and future hopes. This will give a direction to define your actions. A direction is only effective when applied to present and future trends with a strategic framework. Culture is a tool for sustainability if properly harnessed.  

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