The Integrated and Transparent Principle for Sustainable Project Management

The integrated and transparent principle for sustainable project management fosters a holistic approach to sustainability, where economic development, social integrity, and environmental protection are interdependent and interconnected. It means being aware of projects’ impact on the environment and society and working to minimize negative impacts while maximizing positive ones.

I could end this post and say, “Do that.” But… It isn’t that simple.

If you haven’t read the last three posts, here is a quick refresher. Our GPM sustainable project management principles are designed to guide project managers and organizations to adopt a sustainable approach to project management and help them integrate sustainability holistically at every level of their projects. The principles provide a framework based on best practices that support integrating sustainability goals, principles, and practices into project management.

In this post, I will share our  3rd sustainable project principle, “integrated and transparent,” which aims to foster the interdependence of economic development, social integrity, and environmental protection in all aspects of governance, practice, and reporting and provide a couple of examples of how it can be effectively implemented in project management.

Integrating Economic Development, Social Integrity, and Environmental Protection

The environment, society, and economies are not separate entities but interconnected and interdependent. When one is affected, the others are also impacted. The integrated and transparent principle of sustainable project management encourages project managers to consider this interconnectedness when making project decisions.

For example, let’s consider a project that involves building a new factory. A project manager applying the integrated and transparent principle would consider not only the economic benefits associated with the project but also the potential environmental impacts on the surrounding area and the social impacts on the people who live in the community.

In such a project, considerations related to economic development may include job creation, revenue generation, and the overall economic benefits that the project will bring to the region. Environmental considerations may include the impact of pollution on air and water quality, the displacement of wildlife, and the degradation of natural habitats. Social considerations may include the displacement of people and the impact of the factory on the existing community.

Applying the integrated and transparent principle of sustainable project management requires balancing these considerations, and ensuring that decisions are made with the long-term sustainability of the project in mind. This is often referred to as the “triple bottom line,” where the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a project are all considered together.

Reporting Sustainability

Project managers must also consider reporting on the sustainability performance of their projects. The integrated and transparent principle of sustainable project management requires that they be transparent about the impact of their projects on economies, societies, and the natural environment.

The reporting should be based on a set of agreed-upon indicators, such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), that help to measure the impact of the project against the triple bottom line. The KPIs can be developed in consultation with stakeholders or reference frameworks that provide best practice guidance, such our P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (free to download).

Another example: , A construction company that builds high-rise buildings could develop KPIs that measure the energy efficiency of the building, the reduction of waste generated during construction, and the impact of the project on the social fabric of the community where the building is located. By measuring sustainability performance and reporting on it transparently, the construction company can communicate its commitment to sustainability to stakeholders and other interested parties. There are already leading construction firms such as Burns McDonnell that already do this!

Integrating Sustainability into Project Management Practice

Implementing the integrated and transparent principle of sustainable project management requires integrating sustainability considerations into project management practices.

One effective way to achieve this is through stakeholder engagement. Stakeholders can bring their unique perspectives to the table, offer input and feedback on the project plan, and help to ensure that environmental, social, and economic considerations are balanced. Stakeholder engagement can help to identify potential problems early in the project cycle, avoid surprises and lessen negative impacts.

Another way to integrate sustainability into project management practice is through the adoption of sustainability frameworks, such as our P5 Impact Analysis and Sustainability Management Plan. These tools provide help project managers to integrate sustainability into project management at all phases of the project life cycle.

In a world where sustainability is increasingly essential, project managers must understand the importance of the integrated and transparent principle of sustainable project management, which fosters the interdependence of economic development, social integrity, and environmental protection in all aspects of governance, practice, and reporting.

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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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