Are you familiar with the Triple Bottom Line? First defined by John Elkington more than two decades ago, it refers to the principle that an organization should measure its social performance and environmental performance, and not solely its financial (or economic) performance. It is occasionally known as the Three P’s of performance, i.e. People, Planet, Profit.
But the principle can also be interpreted in a more complex manner. Each of these three performance factors impacts the others. Thus, the “bottom lines” of these factors should be reported in an integrated manner.
Last week, the City of New York sadly announced a community restriction that illustrates the integrated nature of the Triple Bottom Line. Due to the hurricanes and rising tides of climate change, severe sand erosion on the city’s southeastern peninsula has led to the closing of a prime strip of sandy beach in the Rockaways.
The decision occurred after local tourist businesses opened for the season. Residents, of course, have already begun to protest their government leaders’ decision.
In this situation, an environmental crisis has led to a social and economic catastrophe for a working neighborhood that relies on its primary community resource — i.e. its summer beach — for its survival.
The residents of the Rockaways will gladly attest to the integrative nature of the Triple Bottom Line. Hopefully, the municipal leaders of your own town will learn from the current travails of their New York City colleagues.