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Good Environmental Management Makes Good Business Sense

Seize the power to change how we talk, think about and act on environmental respsonsibility today, and bring forth "a smarter, more secure and more sustainable planet" tomorrow -- that's the vision driving Wayne Balta and his work with environmental sustainability at IBM Corporation.

Wayne Balta is being recognized as a Champion of Change for his work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities.

The popularity of environmental sustainability has exploded in recent years. It is implanted in the minds of leaders no matter what aspect of business, government or society they serve. But to be realistic, it hasn’t always been this way. The broad popularity of environmental sustainability has been cyclical since the first Earth Day back in 1970. If the sustainability of our planet is indeed a future imperative, a relevant question for any organization is, how do you sustain sustainability over the long term?

At IBM, environmental leadership has been practiced regardless of its popularity or the company’s financial performance at any given point in time. Environmental sustainability is managed as a strategic imperative.  We work to anticipate opportunities and prevent problems. Underlying this commitment is a conviction that good environmental management makes good business sense.

For global institutions at large, I am certainly encouraged. That’s because the next generation is far more passionate about environmental sustainability than any other in recent memory. We're on the front edge of a new wave of leaders that want to perform work that not only delivers a return to shareholders, but also wants to perform work that is good for society. It's a generation that thinks not just about stockholders, but also stakeholders.

From where I sit, I see opportunity for institutions of all kinds to capitalize on new, analytical insights from the ability to instrument and interconnect our world. Today’s leaders are blazing the trail making systems – such as physical infrastructure – more efficient and sustainable. It's happening throughout the world because such innovation delivers not only environmental benefit, but also value and competitive advantage. And this can help the world sustain sustainability.

The good news is that the key requirement for real change now exists: people want it. And they are hungry for leadership. Such a moment doesn’t come around often – perhaps a few times every century – and it will not last forever. Those seizing it today are the leaders of tomorrow. I am convinced that the forward-thinking individuals, communities, companies and countries of the world can build a smarter, more secure and more sustainable planet.

Wayne Balta is the Vice President of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM Corporation where he and his team oversee the company's  global environmental management system, objectives and performance, and also helps develop solutions for clients to further understand and integrate environmental sustainability into their work.