So, You want to be Sustainable?

Most of us want to be better citizens from a sustainability viewpoint these days, be it in our personal, professional or corporate lives. Here’s a refresher on what we may be trying to achieve in making our businesses more sustainable and a list of useful resources (page 2) to dip into and help us to fare better.

What do we even mean by Sustainability?

There are so many different definitions and (mis)interpretations of this term. Personally, I find the 3 P’s (or Triple Bottom Line) to be a very user-friendly depiction of Sustainability – where an organisation’s decisions are based on the combined factors of: People, Planet & Profit.

Is ESG the same as Sustainability?

Not exactly, but the two overlap so much that there can be a tendency to use the terms interchangeably.

But to distinguish – if we take it as a given that virtually all business or investment decisions consider the financials/economics, we might say the Financial Factors are therefore IMPLICIT. However, adding an ESG framework means 3 further factors are also EXPLICITLY recognized as key to sustaining a business, namely:

Environmental (E), Social (S) and Governance (G)

Add Financial / Economic factors back into the decision and you have the complete Sustainability equation. So, in my book, there are two equally plausible definitions:




Sustainability Roadmaps, Training & Consulting

Financial Support for Sustainability Initiatives

Supplementary Reading & Listening

Investing to Save the Planet (Alice Ross)
How to Change the Planet One Object at a Time (Tara Shine)
Leading Sustainably (Donald Eubank & Trista Bridges)
Sustainability Defined
Sustainable Business Covered

About the Author:
Aedín O’Leary is an Independent Director, Investment & ESG Consultant with over 25 years’ experience in the asset management industry, spanning multiple asset classes (traditional and alternative) and differing mandates. She consults on Asset Manager Selection (particular focus on ESG) and on Strategy for Investment Firms in relation to Launch and Distribution of Funds.
Aedín is a member of the Ethical Advisory Group for Appian Asset Management and of the ESG Working Group at the Investment Fund Directors Association. She is also Co-Founder of the Green Team Network, an initiative which devises collaborative solutions for the Irish Funds industry to tackle Sustainability ( She also has substantial engagement with the Not-for-Profit sector with particular focus on Governance, Regulation, and Risk.