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Measuring sustainability

What makes a company sustainable? How can sustainability be measured and compared? And how sustainable is Audi? Reinhold Windorfer is a Senior Analyst at oekom research AG, a ratings agency in Munich. His job: measuring sustainability. He and his team analyse and evaluate the social and ecological performance of companies based on more than 100 criteria selected for each specific industry.

Reinhold Windorfer: Die Vermessung der Nachhaltigkeit

Mr Windorfer, you are an analyst for sustainability. What is sustainability?
Sustainability is the combination of ecological and social factors that must be combined and balanced with economic factors in order to achieve a viable society.

How can the full breadth of this glamorous term be measured, which is what your job is of course?
We measure the sustainability of companies and nations by collecting all of the aspects of their work and evaluating them on a scale. With this we are also able to make their performance comparable.

When you say that you measure and/or evaluate, you must have a standard to go by. What is it?
Our fundamental standard is our understanding of sustainability, which we have provided ourselves as a company by defining what sustainability means to us, which aspects we believe are important and which aspects we want to convey to the outside.

Can you name two or three of the most important aspects?
In essence these include respecting human dignity, a fair international economic order and protecting the natural environment.

Looking to the future: For very many people, parties and companies, the importance of sustainability has now been accepted and become a part of the strategy. What do you think: How will the way the term “sustainability” is handled change over roughly the next 15 or 20 years?
I think that in 15 to 20 years there will be further development toward a sustainable society. My hope is that there will no longer need to be a separate evaluation of sustainability because this will by then be a fixed component of the economy. I think that in 15 to 20 years we will be further along down this path.

Thank you for the interview.