Sustainable ventures can make a significant contribution to poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. These business initiatives and activities improve human well-being and the environment on a profitable basis for people, planet and profit, contributing to economic growth and improvements in human wellbeing. Yet, ventures and decision makers need to reach a better understanding of how environmental, social and economic considerations fit together. Without that understanding, business opportunities are missed and we risk turning today’s development successes into tomorrow’s environmental and social challenges.
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has developed a toolbox that helps to guide key questions related to sustainable ventures such as the identification of opportunities, the understanding of the determinants of success and the assessment of costs and benefits.
The toolbox addresses initiatives that support sustainable ventures, including donor programmes, award schemes, private and public investors, professional education programmes and policy makers. It provides general frameworks, which need to be adapted for specific purposes, for example to develop a questionnaire for loans, forms to participate in competitions or checklists for initial business screenings.
The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam works on value chain development and sustainable ventures in various programmes and develops instruments for the ANNONA sustainable investment fund to analyse businesses on their triple bottom line impacts.
Building on the toolbox allows KIT to integrate planet aspects in its work on sustainable markets and value chains, to analyse better how attention to the ‘planet’ may contribute to positive impacts for ‘people’ and ‘profit’.
In 2009 UNEP and KIT agreed to co-operate with respect to the project entitled ‘Promoting Sustainable Consumption and Production in Developing Countries for Poverty Alleviation’ to systematically analyse sustainable business ventures in developing countries from a lifecycle perspective, helping to make the business case for investing in the environment.
The activities to undertake included 1) the preparation of an inventory of methodologies for assessment of Triple Bottom Line impacts; 2) further development and refinement of tools for analysing sustainable ventures, including coordination with other relevant actors; 3) presentation of three case studies of sustainable business ventures in developing countries.
The present report reflects the results of the inventory of methodologies ad approaches.
As past KIT work on sustainable markets and value chains has been oriented to the People and Planet aspects with publications on improving the position of small farmers in value chains, on up-grading, and sustainable procurement, this document will focus more on the Planet aspects. It aims orienting the further development of methodologies for taking into account environmental cost and benefit in People-Planet-Profit assessments of enterprises. The baseline for this paper is UNEP’s publication “Towards Triple Impact – Toolbox for analysing sustainable ventures in developing countries” (2009).
We acknowledge the interesting exchanges and discussions with MER Netherlands and with the private consultancy firms AidEnvironment and CREM.