The Importance of Chief Sustainability Officers Interfacing with Project Organizations.

How Can Project Organizations Benefit the Chief Sustainability Officer?

The Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) is becoming increasingly important in today’s business world. As companies become more aware of their impact on the environment and society, they hire professionals to help them navigate the complex sustainability landscape. However, being a successful CSO requires more than just understanding the issues at hand; it also requires connecting with projects as much as, if not more than, organizational operations.

Here are some reasons why connecting to projects is crucial for a CSO’s success and how they can do so effectively.

  1. Aligning Projects with Sustainability Goals: One of the primary responsibilities of a CSO is to ensure that the company’s sustainability goals are met. This means they must be involved in or draw materiality from projects as they impact the environment and society. By connecting with projects, CSOs can ensure they align with the company’s sustainability goals and contribute to its overall vision. Also, they can draw from them for sustainability reporting and ESG disclosures
  2. Identifying Opportunities for Improvement: Connecting with projects also allows CSOs to identify opportunities for improvement. They can assess where changes can be made in order to reduce waste, increase efficiency, or improve social impact. By doing so, they can help the company move towards its sustainability goals while also improving its bottom line.
  3. Building Relationships: Effective communication is key to any successful project. By connecting with project managers and team members, CSOs can build relationships and establish trust within the organization. This makes it easier for them to implement sustainable practices and gain support from stakeholders.
  4. Ensuring Accountability: They can monitor progress and track results to ensure that all projects contribute to meeting sustainability goals.

Business people working on sustainable innovation project

How can CSOs connect with projects effectively?

Now that we’ve established why connecting with projects is important, let’s discuss how CSOs can do so effectively:

  1. Establish Clear Communication Channels: Clear communication channels are essential for effective collaboration between different departments within an organization. A successful CSO needs to establish clear lines of communication with all project managers and team members involved in relevant projects.
  2. Set Expectations: Once communication channels have been established, the CSO needs to set expectations regarding sustainable practices and outcomes for each project involved in their portfolio.
  3. Provide Resources: For sustainable practices to be implemented successfully across various organizational departments or units, it requires resources such as funding or technical expertise. The CSO should provide adequate resources so each project has what it needs to succeed sustainably.
  4. Encourage Collaboration: CSOs should encourage collaboration between different departments within an organization working on similar projects or initiatives as this will foster knowledge sharing leading towards better outcomes.
  5. Measure Progress & Evaluate Results :By measuring progress regularly against set targets, the CSO would be able to evaluate results which would allow them to adjust strategies accordingly.
  6. Report:  Include project related impacts in ESG disclosures and Sustainability reports.

What value do projects bring to the CSO?


The alignment of organizational strategy for sustainability with organizational business objectives is a key aspect of a CSO’s role in the C-Suite.  When the organization has delivered on that strategy either in an operational context or through projects and change initiatives,  what is material from those efforts comprise the non-financial reporting and ESG disclosures.  This graphic below, from the Section 6 of the new P5 Standard for sustainability in project management version 3 (get it here for free) shows how both operations and project are key to materiality.



As the role of a CSO is crucial in today’s business world. By connecting with projects, CSOs can ensure that their company’s sustainability goals are met while identifying opportunities for improvement and building relationships within the organization.
To do so effectively, CSOs must establish clear communication channels, set expectations, provide resources, encourage collaboration, measure progress and evaluate results regularly, and include project-related impacts in ESG disclosures and sustainability reports. By doing so, they can help their companies move towards a more sustainable future while also improving their bottom line.

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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