Sustainability in project management

On last January 14, 2015 there has been an international webinar, which involved some of the leading experts in the field of sustainability and project management. Speakers from different countries, such as Argentina, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States, took part in it. Its title was “A day for sustainability in project management”.

The first presentation, of the author of this article (Italy), who had the idea of the webinar, focused on how to obtain sustainability in the long-term with projects, which are temporary by their own definition. Starting from what may initially seem a contradiction, some ways to achieve sustainable and lasting results in environmental, social and economic field were outlined.

Also the next speaker, Richard Maltzman (USA), showed the link between sustainability and project management and how it can be attained, thinking in the long term and with a holistic, that is comprehensive, view and explained what the success of a project really means. This expanded view of the success of a project intends to bring new sap to the work of the project managers.

Then, Ron Schipper and Gilbert Silvius (The Netherlands), basing upon the consultation of scientific and professional publications available on the subject in the last decade, described what they believe is the core of the sustainable management of the projects, highlighting why it is important for a company, listing four elements that they consider as fundamental, and explaining the particular overall benefits that we can obtain in that way.

The presentation of Peter Milsom (Canada) demonstrated and highlighted how it is not enough to think of a single sustainable project, but instead there is need to act globally on enterprise culture, strategy and organization, to improve its economic results with the adoption of a globally sustainable approach. The illustrated examples have reinforced this perspective.

Monica Gonzalez (Argentina) discussed the study case where, starting from the management of containers that had held chemicals, it was possible to help organizations for the protection of children through an agreement reached with some governmental institutions and private companies responsible for cleaning, recycling and selling the decontaminated containers. The project contributed to the reduction of child mortality in accordance with one of the goals of the United Nations.

In his presentation Joel Carboni (USA) described how, according to a survey of Accenture, 93% of CEOs consider sustainability as a key to business success, but 62% can not quantify its value. Moreover, only 129 of the 4069 largest companies on the world’s stock exchanges, make public only indispensable information about sustainability. Therefore, it follows the general need for a change of mentality and of approach to projects

Listening to all the speeches presented at the webinar, a common thread originates, which is represented by the need to go beyond the single sustainable project, reaching a broader and comprehensive view, that is holistic and long-term oriented, which is valid for all the projects of a company, along with the need to develop joint and coordinated initiatives between different companies to achieve common sustainable objectives, transforming the linear production cycles into continuous production cycles, and promoting transparency in decision-making processes and the respect of a code of ethics.

For those who are interested in learning more about the topics, the recording of the webinar, in English, is available at:
A day for sustainability in project management
A day for sustainability in project management”.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering

Translation of the Italian article: Paola Morgese “La sostenibilità nel project management” published in the blog of



Author: progettisostenibili Paola Morgese

Ingegnere, project manager, autrice. Convogliatrice di sostenibilità nelle aziende e nella vita. Engineer, project manager, author. Conveyer of sustainability in business and life

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