Socioenvironmental: the integration of social and environmental spheres

The pursuit of sustainability has become a fundamental goal for organizations, considering its value to society and the preservation of natural resources and the environment, as well as its benefits for organizational development and growth. This pursuit encompasses the economic, social and environmental spheres, which, although often addressed separately, are highly interconnected.

The current trend towards adopting sustainable practices is further driven by the urgency of climate change. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is undeniably caused by unsustainable energy use, land use changes, unequal consumption and production patterns, and lifestyles, resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions. These changes have already caused a 1.1ºC increase in the planet’s average surface temperature compared to pre-industrial levels. Their impacts range from human health and well-being to biodiversity and ecosystems.


But how do the environmental and social spheres intersect?

In general, it’s true that all economic activities have some environmental and social impact. With the evolution of corporate sustainability, now incorporated into the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) agenda, organizations seek to mitigate their impacts within the social and environmental spheres through initiatives ranging from diversifying product and supplier portfolios to engaging stakeholders and implementing private social investment (PSI) actions. The complexity of the correlation between the social and environmental spheres necessitates equally complex initiatives.

While the environment is commonly understood as the natural world elements (water, air, soil, plant and animal biodiversity), its concept is broader. It typically includes not only these natural elements but also the relationships between people and their living environment, considering political, economic, cultural, and health aspects. Thus, addressing environmental initiatives inherently involves an integrated approach that also considers the social dimension.

Changes in the social sphere often correlate with environmental impacts at various levels, and vice versa. Among the various possible impacts and correlations, the following example focuses on water-related impacts, specifically alterations in water resources:

The interconnected functioning of these spheres is evident through this example. But could an environmental project operate, even in a remote location, without direct interactions with society? Initially, it may seem possible; however, considering the systemic impacts of the environment — namely, the natural environment and its relationships with society — it becomes clear that the interdependence of these concepts is inherent. The same applies to social projects; it is necessary to consider environmental factors.

Therefore, the need for a joint approach to these spheres is evident. Failing to consider the socio-environmental interconnectedness within projects and initiatives diminishes their effective impacts and their ability to reach broad audiences. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized the importance of integrating all sectors of society and implementing cross-cutting actions that address the complexity of interdependencies among climate, ecosystems, biodiversity, and human societies, particularly concerning climate change. This also applies to socio-environmental integration.


The role of philanthropy and Private Social Investment

The interdependence of spheres and, consequently, the causes associated with each of them, form a complex issue in which philanthropy and private social investment are already well equipped to act, without losing focus on the beneficiaries, namely those most affected by socio-environmental damage.

In our material, Perspectives for Brazilian Philanthropy 2024, we address the poly-crisis generated by this interdependence of spheres, highlighting the cross-cutting nature of causes and responses, and emphasizing the incorporation of these themes into our ecosystem’s strategic approach. Including connections, stakeholders, causes, and consequences in projects enables more informed decisions for generating structural changes.

This cross-cutting approach can be observed, for instance, in the Water Grant from the Mosaic Institute, which encourages community projects focused on water resource management and sustainable agriculture.

In the 2024 grant, the Institute offers up to R$45,000 for at least 12 projects contributing to SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation – of the UN’s Agenda 2030. Projects aim to promote best practices in water resource management, increase access to water and sanitation, expand sewage and water treatment systems, preserve and restore water-related ecosystems, provide professional development for civil society organizations, and foster intersectoral cooperation.


IDIS in promoting socio-environmental action

Through well-planned and monitored private social investment, companies can navigate the interplay between Social and Environmental aspects, demonstrating their socio-environmental commitment to key stakeholders. Furthermore, they can engage stakeholders in collaborative processes to address complex social and environmental issues.

IDIS provides technical support to families, companies, and social organizations looking to initiate or enhance their private social investment with an integrated view of Environmental and Social aspects. We operate in a customized and participatory manner across six areas of action.

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