Cutting Through the Noise: What is Sustainable Project Management

There Is a Lot of Noise Out There.  Let’s Clear the Air.

In an age where information spreads at the speed of light and sustainable project management is rapidly gaining popularity, clarity becomes our most valued ally. With this burgeoning interest comes the responsibility to articulate its principles clearly and accurately, lest we fall into the same pitfalls and online battles that have beleaguered Agile over the last ten years.

Misinformation has become an unwelcome guest, clouding the reality of what sustainable project management truly involves. Far from being a mere buzzword or fleeting trend, sustainable project management is an essential strategy for addressing our time’s pressing environmental, social, and economic challenges. As its adoption grows, it’s crucial to unpack what it really means and dispel the myths and misconceptions that could hinder its progress.

What Exactly is Sustainable Project Management?

Sustainable Project Management (SPM) is an approach that actively measures and manages environmental, social, and economic impact throughout the project lifecycle and ensures that the resulting outcome and its end of useful life are sustainable. It goes beyond the traditional aim of financial gain, adding value for everyone involved—including our planet. SPM isn’t just about being ‘eco-friendly.’ It’s about considering the long-term effects and benefits from the start to the end of a project, with an intensive focus on how we do what we do and the sustainability impacts of our project activities. Assessing the Sustainability impacts alone in a single project spans over 240 unique and measurable aspects!

The textbook from the GPM website reads:
Green Project Management / Sustainable Project Management is the application of methods, tools, and techniques to achieve a stated objective while considering the project outcome’s entire lifecycle to ensure a net positive environmental, social, and economic impact.

However, there are often misunderstandings about what SPM really is. Many people wrongly believe it’s only about green initiatives or that it’s just a way to boost profits or creating something sustainable for the project owner.  THIS IS INCORRECT. The reality is more complex and meaningful. SPM aims to balance the efficient use of resources, social fairness, and economic well-being.

Why is Sustainable Project Management so Vital? Here are four clear reasons:

  • Ethical Responsibility: Embracing sustainable project management is inherently the right choice for organizations. It reflects a commitment to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and ethical governance, aligning corporate practices with the larger global agenda for sustainability.
  • Addressing Root Causes that necessitated the SDGs: Sustainable project management is pivotal in tackling the root issues that the Sustainable Development Goals aim to resolve. This strategic approach goes beyond superficial fixes, targeting systemic change and contributing to achieving these universal objectives.
  • Economic Advantages: Adopting SPM can lead to increased profitability and reduced risks. It provides a framework for identifying and mitigating potential environmental and social hazards, thereby protecting and potentially enhancing brand reputation and shareholder value.
  • Essential for Sustainability Reporting and ESG Disclosures: SPM equips organizations with the critical data required for comprehensive sustainability reporting and ESG disclosures. This is a significant advantage over traditional project management methods, which may lack the mechanisms for such detailed and long-term data tracking and analysis.

We Need to Understand the Pervasive Impact of Misinformation That is Out There.

Misinformation, a relentless force in the digital era, can distort public perception and decision-making, especially in fields as complex as Sustainable Project Management (SPM). In today’s interconnected world, where everyone’s voice can be amplified, opinions often masquerade as expertise, and blog posts and articles or social media can spread unchecked at an alarming pace.

The consequence? An opinion, once published, can rapidly gain momentum, bolstered by shares and likes, and become a quasi-truth. This phenomenon is magnified in the realm of sustainability, where passionate debate can often supersede factual discourse. These viral opinions create a façade of credibility, overshadowing the nuanced, well-researched insights of true specialists.

In the fray of blogs and instant experts, navigating back to the bastions of authentic knowledge and proven expertise is critical. GPM Global stands at the forefront as the leader in sustainable project management. As the architects of the PRiSM methodology (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods) and stewards of the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management, GPM Global has established a robust framework that professionals and organizations around the globe rely on for implementing sustainability in their project management practices.

In combating the spread of misinformation, our collective effort must be to return to such sources that are steeped in research, practice, and a deep understanding of sustainability’s multifaceted challenges and solutions. By anchoring our discussions in the insights and findings of established authorities like GPM Global, we protect the integrity of sustainable project management discourse and ensure that actions are grounded in solid expertise.

As proponents of sustainable project management, we must, therefore, commit to a higher standard of information sharing. We should question, verify, and cite, nurturing an ecosystem where facts triumph over fiction and lasting, meaningful progress can be achieved in SPM. By valuing the voices of true expertise over the clamor of overnight pundits, we empower ourselves to make informed, credible, and effective decisions.

Let’s learn!

Combating misinformation is a collective endeavor that begins with individual action. Educating ourselves on the nuances of SPM and engaging with credible sources can fortify our defenses against false narratives. We can further bolster this by supporting research initiatives that aim to demystify the data and facts surrounding sustainable practices.  Check out our free 15 minute primer and see for your self why sustainable project management is vital for today.


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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