Diagnostics and Sustainability. Is it possible?
Sustainability as a term today is a sign of durability, future viability and environmental awareness. The concept of sustainable development of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992) therefore means both preserving the old and driving forward the new. Only those companies that have internalized the dichotomous significance of this and act accordingly on the market survive over time. With this, the context in which a company has to be constantly reoriented is perpetually changing – the more flexible and dynamic a company is, the easier it is to adapt. Therefore, today more than ever, the meaningful content of sustainability extends to an overall system of ecology, economy and social, before the claim of the protection of natural resources with regard to an intragenerational as well as intergenerational postulate of justice, which goes back to the Brundtland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987):
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
Today's companies do not operate independently, but are embedded in an ecosystem from which they draw their (ideas and) materials. The interdependencies within this system should therefore be consciously recognized in order to guide entrepreneurial action socially and ethically and thus maintain continuity. With regard to Dx companies, this includes not only a sustainable corporate culture but also an awareness of risks and their containment and conformity.
The current economic trend in many market sectors is already going towards sustainable goods production. Even minimalist approaches represent a form of sustainable management. Contrary to previous fears, demand and sales show that such a change in production and management processes does not necessarily reduce profits. Consumers, just like companies, are becoming more and more aware of the need for a fundamental rethinking, their assessment is more critical – supply and demand regulate the market. As employees, they also work more efficiently if the values and norms of the corporate culture correspond to their own. Companies therefore need value-oriented answers to questions of what, why, where and how – factors of the material, its origin and processing of a product, as well as the associated framework conditions for people and the environment, anticipate the principle benefits or (un)conditional necessity, which are already being increasingly weighed up in parts of the population.
The field of diagnostics can also do a lot in terms of sustainability to do justice to this not as recent, but now firmly established primacy now and in the future. The generally established technical term is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and covers a broad spectrum of possible measures, e.g. sustainable management, product responsibility, supplier management, social commitment or human resource management against the background of the respective culture.
By assuming or reflecting social responsibility, the Dx sector can not only strengthen a positive image, but also use its inherent impact on its environment for positive change. The question about the chicken and the egg remains unanswered, what counts is only the effect. Already, LifeScience research companies are developing (technical) tools and solutions, e.g. Life Cell Imaging or 3D cell cultures, by which they advance the value chain of science (basic and applied research) and economy (e.g. in-vitro diagnostics and personalized medicine). In doing so, they draw on a wide variety of specialist areas. In addition to synthetic biology, this also includes, for example, bioeconomics, which deals with the use of biomass.
Much time has passed since the beginning of the 1980s, when the concept of sustainability was massively consolidated, but nevertheless a positive prognosis can now be hoped for – in the LifeScience sector, people are well on the way.