Module 1:
Business Case for Sustainability

January 15, 2021 (FRI). 9:00am - 5:00pm (GMT+8)

Course Objectives:

  • Gain a solid understanding of the concepts of “sustainability” and “sustainable development”;
  • Explore why and how companies should/can build a business value proposition for sustainability (i.e. a business case)
  • Discuss and identify ways in which your company can align its business goals with the sustainability business value proposition;
  • Look at challenges and models of embedding sustainability into a company / organisation as opposed to greenwashing or “bolt-on sustainability”
  • Learn and thinking about the pathway of business transformation to sustainability via business case examples
  • Explore the why and how business should & can engage with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);


0900 -0930
30 minutes

Welcome, Participant Introductions, Workshop Objectives & Icebreaker

0930– 1030
60 minutes

Session 1: Review of Sustainability & Sustainable Development
Session 1 will be sort of review on the concepts of “sustainability” and “sustainable development”, as it is critical that we are on the same page when it comes to using these terms in a business context, particularly in practice.

1030 – 1045
15 minutes


1045 – 1200
1 hour 15 minutes

Session 2: The Sustainability Value Proposition (i.e. the Business Case)
Value proposition are often defined as the “value a company promises to deliver to customers should they choose to buy their product. In this first session we will look at how a company should think about the value proposition of sustainability for itself (exploring several models) and how does a company begin to construct a sustainability business case or profile.

1200 - 1330


1330 – 1430
1 hour 30 minutes

Session 3: Sustainable Business Transformation
In session 3 we will use a series of business case examples to understand what embedded sustainability means, in opposition to ‘greenwashing’ and ‘bolt-on sustainability’. Participants will be guided through a series of discussion exercises to explore three questions: 1) Is what is often thought of as sustainability, really greenwashing? 2) What are the specific elements of sustainable companies’ culture that differentiates them from the other “traditional’ companies and 3) How does a sustainable company create the conditions that embed sustainability into the company’s strategy and operations?

1430 - 1515
45 minutes

Session 4: Business Sustainability Transformation Through Innovation
For Session 4, we will follow the 5-step pathway of business transformation from compliance opportunities to creating next practice platforms

1515- 1540
20 minutes


1540 – 1640
60 minutes

Session 5: SDGs and Business
Session 5 will provide an introductory exploration of why and how businesses should / can engage with and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and share with each other how their own companies and organisations are currently aligning with and working on the SDGs. Break out group and pleanary discuss will focus on intersections that organisations have with any of the 17 SDGs; where / how the participants’ organisations / compan is currently engaging with and contributing to the SDGs?, and also identify additional opportunities for your business / organisation to engage with the SDGs.

1640 – 1700
20 minutes

Wrap up & Open Discussion



Robert Steele has a BSc. in geology and MSc. in natural resource management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has worked in the fields of environment and sustainable development for almost 30 years. In 2005 he founded Systainability Asia (, a multi-disciplinary Thailand based regional consultancy that works closely with national and regional government institutions, UN agencies, private sector companies and education institutions in the Asia-Pacific region to build capacity and find long-term solutions to our sustainability challenges. Robert specializes in the areas of environmental management, integrative sustainability planning and assessment; systems thinking modeling application and training, participatory stakeholder engagement & consultation, and corporate sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme strengthening, assessment and reporting. Robert is a Senior Associate with the AtKisson Group, along with being a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), and a long-term faculty member of the UNEP -Tongji IESD Asia Pacific Leadership Programme on Environment and Sustainable Development as well as visiting lecturer at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), in Bangkok, Thailand for the past three years.