New business tool for sustainable development


22 June 2006

The British Standards Institution (BSI) launched the world’s first standard for managing sustainable development today. The new guidance will assist organizations in developing an enduring balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and social progress.

BS 8900:2006 Guidance for managing sustainable development is designed to enable organisations to develop an approach to sustainable development that will continue to evolve and adapt to meet new challenges and demands. It illustrates how improvements in sustainable development can be achieved through strengthening relationships, enhancing internal cohesion, developing trust, stimulating learning and understanding and managing risks and opportunities within an organisation.

The new standard is based on building learning and developing decision-making frameworks in organisations to make them more sustainable. The standard sets out the outcomes an organisation should achieve rather than processes it should follow and provides a means for identifying the maturity of an organisation’s sustainability so that its current position can be measured and progress charted.

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards said, “This standard is an important step towards helping organisations realise a sustainable future, whilst maintaining business performance.

“A successful approach to managing sustainable development will help ensure that an organisation makes high quality decisions that promote continuing and lasting success. These decisions often relate to an organisation asking itself the following questions:

  • How can you be sure no groups or individuals are disadvantaged or kept in the dark?
  • How do you try to deal with others with integrity?
  • Will organisational decisions lead to irreversible environmental or societal change?
  • How do you make certain that relevant and reliable information is available in an accessible, low-cost and comparable way?
  • How are significant interests, influences and beneficiaries recorded, communicated and managed?”

The sustainable development maturity matrix in BS 8900 helps organisations to answer such questions by providing a means of tracking performance against criteria and continually working toward improvement in each area.

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Notes to editors

  • BSI British Standards is the UK’s national standards body, working with government, business and consumers to represent UK interests and facilitate the production of British, European and international standards to meet economic and social needs. 
  • BS 8900 was launched at an industry event attended by Mike Low, Director of British Standards, Professor Chris Baines, and David Jackman, chair of the BSI committee responsible for the development of BS 8900 .
  • BS 8900 was developed by a BSI Technical Committee of representatives from professional associations, business, government departments and agencies, academia, consumer watchdogs, trade associations and non governmental organizations.