The keystone of an arch is the one which completes it and lets the arch bear weight. Whether in a structural engineering sense it is as critical to success compared to the other stones as it is in figurative use is up for debate, but it is usually taken to mean the critical element in a system.

Who is the keystone of a sustainability programme? As a sustainability practitioner, it probably isn't you, I'm afraid to say. And the answer may not be as obvious as you think.

For example, I'm currently helping develop a sustainability strategy for a processor/distributer of perishable goods. In this case, from a technical point of view, the keystone is the guy in charge of the 'cold chain' – all the refrigeration whether in fixed locations or on wagons, plus the systems in place to ensure that the goods don't perish en route. This refrigeration is the biggest contributor to the company's carbon footprint and has a big effect on waste, too. We are going to have to do some highly targeted engagement to ensure that this individual and their team is fully on board and helping us with key parts of the strategy.

It's quite common that a small number of individuals in an organisation have disproportionate effect on sustainability (as the 80:20 rule suggests). Do you know who they are in your case, and what are you doing to engage with them?


Photo: G Dollardo, uploaded to Wikipedia

Be Sociable, Share!