Project managers and sustainability

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Posted by Kirsten on 9th Dec 2016

The role of Project Management in developing a more sustainable economy and society

How much influence do project managers have in pushing sustainable practices within a particular project? This is one of the key questions covered by the European Commission funded survey below, which seeks to gain as wide a view as possible on sustainability objectives managed by project professionals.

As there is a growing interest in the topic of sustainability policy makers’ agendas, corporate strategies and professional codes of ethics all reference sustainability as a key objective. Yet this poses a number of challenges as sustainability requires changes in traditional practices and paradigms of production.

These changes in today’s society are typically managed as projects and delivered by dedicated project managers, who are increasingly required to have the knowledge and skills to take account of the social, financial, political, cultural and environmental sustainability of a project. As such, project managers potentially play a very important role in accomplishing sustainability, but we need a better understanding of how they may achieve this, of the motivations that inspire them and of the challenges they may encounter.

Whilst it is undoubtedly the case that projects and project managers are important actors in the sustainability agenda there is a paradox here: how can a time-bound activity such as a project (which by definition ‘temporary’ and ‘unique’)[1] be reconciled with sustainability objectives which are typically set in an unspecified but remote future?

In practical terms, how much influence do project managers have in pushing sustainable practices within a particular project? Furthermore, as projects involve a broad range of stakeholders (e.g.: clients, contractors, designers, consultants) how do project managers interact with other actors to achieve sustainability objectives?

These are some the key questions addressed by European Commission funded survey[2]. Please take a short while to answer the survey below:

Sustainability Survey

The survey is aimed to all project managers and should take no longer than 15 minutes. Even if your projects appear to have little to do with sustainability, please consider responding in order to ensure that as wide a range of views as possible are captured.

 

[1] By definition “temporary endeavour undertaken to create an unique product, service or result” (PMBOK 2008)

[2] Call: Marie Skłodowska-Curie-Individual Fellowship-2014, Program: H2020, Project: 655265

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