Seeking True Sustainability

Black and White photo of Richard McLellan, NACC CEO.
Richard McLellan, NACC CEO.

“Farmers who implement environmentally sustainable land management practices tend to be more profitable”. This comment was recently relayed to me and while I only have anecdotal evidence to back this up at this time, it makes good, logical sense to me. The evidence also suggests that banks look more favourably on the more profitable farmers as better propositions for lending and credit opportunities. Again that makes good sense to me. Therefore, it was said, more environmentally-sustainable farming operations are more likely to get financial support from banks.

Now, I often hear small-to-medium business enterprises (SMEs) (which includes most farming enterprises) talking about being “sustainable”, however quite frequently they are mostly talking about being “financially sustainable”. I’m suggesting that, based on the anecdotal evidence relayed to me above, they are more likely to be financially sustainable if they are also endeavouring to be environmentally sustainable.

I don’t have any solid evidence to back any of this up at this time. But, I look forward to increasing my knowledge and understanding about this relationship, and how accurate it is or not, in the months and years ahead, as I visit farmers and other land managers across the region in my role as the CEO of NACC.

I’m also eager to investigate this further in my new role as a member of the Board of the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MWCCI) – to which I was elected this week. Will the same logical sequence also apply to other SMEs across the NACC region? Are the businesses that seek and implement environmentally-friendly initiatives (such as energy savings, waste reduction, reduced transport/travel, etc.) more profitable and successful, and therefore better lending propositions for the financial sector?
If so, then we should all be promoting and championing the successes to be derived from the benefits of a “triple bottom line” business approach that incorporates social and environmental outcomes as well as economic.

If not, is it simply because we don’t have the evidence to connect the dots?

Either way, I’m keen to work with the other members of the MWCCI Board to explore and highlight the economic benefits for businesses in the region of adopting environmentally-sustainable practices, which lead to economic benefits, which in turn lead to long-term business (and ultimately community) sustainability.

I’m also keen to talk to anyone in the region who can help add to my knowledge and understanding about this perceived connection – that investing in better land management and environmental stewardship leads to a more profitable operation, which leads to a more financially-sustainable business.

I look forward to reporting back to you about this at some time in the future, but in the meantime, good luck to all local businesses in their quest for what I call “true” sustainability, which puts the environment and the community squarely in the business model.

Richard McLellan


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