Sustainability in Project Management

Sustainability in Project Management

Last week IPMA celebrated its 30th World Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan. The International Project Management Association (IPMA) is a federation of 68-member nations, who collaborate to promote the recognition of project management and engage stakeholders around the world in advancing the profession.

Ireland, through the Institute, its member association, plays a very active role in IPMA affairs and has in excess of 4000 certified project professionals in this country. The Institute has ensured that it is always up-to-date with the very best thinking and practice in project management worldwide.

The Congress provided three inspiring days of best practices, new insights and academic findings combined with World Class PM awards.

During congress, the IPMA’s Council of Delegates spent time focusing on the importance of sustainability for projects, project managers and the project management profession at large.

Projects are instrumental for achieving sustainable solutions. In 2015, the United Nations set forward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to shape a global agenda for all, including the project management profession.  

What is Sustainability?

Sustainable Project Management is the planning, monitoring and controlling of project delivery and support processes, with consideration of the environmental, economical and social aspects of the life-cycle of the project’s resources, processes, deliverables and effects, aimed at realizing benefits for stakeholders, and performed in a transparent, fair and ethical way that includes proactive stakeholder participation. (Gilbert Silvius, 2015, Considering Sustainability in Project Management Processes).

The project management profession at large should promote the Sustainable Development Goals by developing objectives, plans and setting them into practice in a given context. A global association like IPMA can provide the profession with its good practices (e.g. standards) and recognise achievement of sustainability in projects (e.g. through achievement awards).

Achieving Sustainability

Achieving sustainability requires an active role of all people involved in the project, programmes and portfolios. From Astana, the members of IPMA issue a global call to action to actively support the achievement of sustainability through projects by increasing the awareness and adoption of sustainable competences.

IPMA President Reinhard Wagner confirmed IPMA’s stance saying:

“Listening to the daily news makes me feel that we really need to change something. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN lead the way and are an urgent call for all people engaged in the field of project management. We are the change! We can make a difference in the way we manage projects.’’

Projects are a means to make change happen, deliver new products and services, and thus shape our society. Projects and project management help our society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability shouldn’t just be an afterthought, but should be one of the project’s goals.

Thus, project management needs to consider sustainability as one, if not the most important success factors.

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