In Step with Projects

In Pace with Progress

Series on Sustainability and Project Management (1)


Author: Reinhard Wagner     Source: PMR

Issue 3 of PMR Magazine (2021) focuses on sustainable project management. We invited top experts to share their view on sustainable project management including the following questions "What do you think of the necessity and importance of integrating sustainability into project management lifecycle?" "What should we pay attention to in sustainable project management?"

Here's Reinhard Wagner's contribution: 

In recent years, the topic of "sustainability" has become increasingly important in society and is therefore also increasingly discussed in connection with projects and project management. However, it often remains unclear what is actually meant by this term and what specific actions it entails. One dimension of sustainability certainly aims at the product of a project. This is created as part of a project and should be available with the required properties for as long as possible beyond the end of the project. This must be considered in project management, but the sponsor of a project is ultimately responsible for ensuring the sustainability of the project product.

Sustainability, however, also refers to the way in which the project is implemented, how much care is taken with the resources required to create the project product, and how resources are used as sustainably as possible. Here, above all, the project manager and the project team are called upon to show appropriate care. An organization-wide project governance can provide appropriate guidelines and rules in this regard.

Finally, this is the aspect that is often meant when talking about sustainability in project management; care should also be taken during the realization of a project to ensure that no harm is caused in the project context and, if possible, that a benefit is achieved. With reference to the environment, this means, for example, in the construction of infrastructure projects, that within the context of the project no harm to nature occurs and, if possible, even compensatory areas are created, forests are reforested, etc. In addition to the focus topic of nature, however, there are also many other aspects that are mentioned in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which must have an influence on the formulation of the project goals and the requirements. Again, it is the interaction of project sponsor, project manager and project team that has an impact on sustainability throughout the entire project lifecycle.

As can be seen from the above, it is not just one perspective but several that need to be considered in terms of sustainability in project management. This is an important area to address in the future in order to meet the demanding expectations of our society with regard to this profession.

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