Sustainable Organizations: Evaluating the Environmental Sustainability of Schools and Companies in a Regional Centre of Expertise

By Paul Ofei-Manu and Satoshi Shimano.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The principal goal of sustainability is attaining a state where the planet’s resource extraction, use and the resultant pollution, particularly by humans residing or operating in it will be within its (the Earth’s) carrying capacity. Organizations, homes and communities are pivotal in the sustainability transition as they serve as “frameworks” for facilitating the acquisition of relevant knowledge, values, attitudes and skills towards sustainable living. The organizations in the education and corporate sectors especially serve as important stakeholders in a locality or within a regional centre of expertise (RCE), which was set up primarily to advance the objectives of the UN’s Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). However, these sectors currently are not fully involved in an RCE’s target objectives to meet its DESD goals, partly because generally, sustainability as a concept has not been wholly incorporated into the mainstream activities and programs of most organizations. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the level of sustainability of schools and companies using certain environmental sustainability performance indicators in order to determine whether they are “sustainable’’ or “sustainability-friendly” enough to contribute meaningfully to the RCE Greater Sendai (RCEGS) target objectives to meets its DESD goals. The study also evaluated respondents’ preferences for some suggested education for sustainable development (ESD) approaches and also, to identify some opportunities for implementing ESD in schools and companies.
Respondents comprising company employees and teachers were sampled from ten firms and fifteen schools, respectively using survey questionnaires based on some environmental performance indicators. Results showed that some aspects of the sectors’ activities were moderately sustainable while others were less sustainable and hence needed improvement. The results also suggested differences in perception between management and workers in the firms regarding several of the indicators used. Sectoral differences in preference for the suggested ESD approaches towards increased sustainability were observed. It was argued that making use of some activities within the organization for sustainability awareness creation and also, strengthening some already-existing “sustainable” activities especially in schools would be a good start. The importance of the contribution of the two sectors towards envisioning the path towards sustainability and eventually, the actualization of a sustainable, low-carbon society were discussed.

Keywords: Organization, Business, Schools, Sustainability, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Regional Centre of Expertise(RCE)

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.313-336. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.816MB).

Dr. Paul Ofei-Manu

Researcher, Environmental Education Center, Miyagi University of Education, Kakuda City, Miyagi, Japan

Graduated with a Ph.D and M.Sc in Agricultural Sciences (Bioenvironmental Science major) from Iwate and Yamagata Universities, respectively, Japan, and also MSc in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Staffordshire University, UK. Professionally, he holds the AIEMA qualification from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, UK. His major research fields are agroecology, sociological-ecology, education for sustainability, sustainable production-consumption systems and corporate sustainability management and policy. He is currently a researcher at the Environmental Education Center, Miyagi National University of Education, Japan. He is also the Founder of Sustainable Organizations and Societies for Africa Inc. (SOSAf, Ghana), and a Co-founder-researcher of Sustainable Science and Management Institute of Africa (SUSMIA), a research NGO.

Assoc. Prof. Satoshi Shimano

Associate Professor, Environmental Education Center, Miyagi University of Education, Sendai City, Miyagi, Japan

Prof. Satoshi Shimano is an Associate Professor of Environmental Education Center, Miyagi National University of Education, Sendai, Japan. He currently leads the research group of soil eukaryotic microbial ecology in Japan. He obtained his doctoral degree in Environmental Science from Yokohama National University in Japan and his postdoctoral fellowship from the Japanese Science and Technology Cooperation in Japan. His major research fields are in biological diversity, microbial ecology and molecular ecology in soils. He currently represents MUE at the Steering Committee of Greater Sendai Area RCE.

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