Bachelor student at Nord developed digital sustainability tool

– Answering 91 questions truthfully might contribute to creating environmentally sound businesses around the world, according to student Aarcha Zenya (22).

Per Jarl Elle and Mari Lund Eide (translation)

​Businesses around the world are currently experiencing increased demands from governments and organizations to become more sustainable, and many international businesses have already taken action to improve their sustainability levels.

But the costs are high.

– The threshold for controlling businesses' sustainability level is high. Smaller businesses simply do not have the capacity for this, says student Aarcha Zenya.

Free and simple tool

As a bachelor student in the Economy and Management programme, Aarcha Zenya developed a free and simple digital solution for businesses, the Enterprise Sustainable Evaluation Tool – E-SET. 

– E-SET is an easily accessible online sustainability tool. The tool aims to help both large and small businesses with assessing their own sustainability levels as well as unconvering solutions for improvements. 

Klikk her for å endre bildet Nord student developed sustainability tool. Aarcha Zenya worked with the E-SET tool while studying at Nord (photo: Per-Jarl Elle).

Aarcha recently co-authored an academic article together with her supervisor, Associate Professor Øystein Nystad, who works at the Centre for Ecological Economics and Ethics at Nord's Business School. The article has been published in the journal Sustainability

Nystad, who revised the article and provided academic input says the student has done the business community a valuable favour by developing the sustainability tool.

Aarcha has combined her technological skills with her insight into economy and ecology in a very constructive and applicable way, he says. 

Hands on actions to improve sustainability levels

The E-SET indicator measures three dimensions of businesses' sustainability:

  • Responsibility for nature and environment
  • Social responsibility
  • Economic responsibility

By using the results from the 91 indicators businesses are able to calculate their own sustainability levels, or compare themselves to other businesses in the same field.  

– The E-SET tool will document businesses' flaws and weaknesses. A more sustainable business will facilitate a healthier distribution of their resources, improve their financial results, and strengthen their reputation.  

The term "sustainable development" was launched over thirty years ago by Gro Harlem Brundtland when she was chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Aarcha Zenya has chosen a practical approach to the term. 

Take care of the bees!

Failure to take care of the environment might lead to severe economic losses, says Zenya. Investing in bee pollination however, is one example of profitable yet environmental friendly business. 

– Pollination of flowers and plants by European insects is worth 15 billion Euros a year. If we continue threatening their existence, both the bees and the eco systems they offer will disappear. This is a very short-sighted use of resources, she says. 

Klikk her for å endre bildet
Practical approach to sustainability: Student Aarcha Zenya and Associate Professor Øystein Nystad have published an academic article on the digital sustainability tool E-SET (photo Per-Jarl Elle).

Aarcha Zenya emphasizes that economic growth and surplus will still be central to the business community and overall society in the future.

– A healthy business economy is an important precondition for sustainability. Without economic growth it is hard for businesses to make a social- and environmental difference. 

According to Zenya, both smaller and larger businesses need digital tools that are user friendly and that provide them with credible information. 

– The earlier businesses measure their sustainability score with E-SET, the earlier they are able to implement strategies to improve it. This will benefit their competitiveness.

After completing her bachelor in Economy and Management at Nord University, Zenya continued her studies enrolled as a master student in the Energy, Natural Resource and the Environment programme at the Norwegian School of Economics.

Honest and credible report

In order to paint a precise picture of a business' sustainability levels, the business needs to be honest about their situation. 

– If they take sustainability seriously, honesty will not be a problem. If businesses are honest, the E-SET tool will provide them with useful and truthful information. This way, businesses can use the E-SET tool as a self-check.

– I hope businesses out there realise the value of making their sustainability score available for the public, thus enabling a comparison with other businesses' scores. 

Per Jarl Elle and Mari Lund Eide (translation)