Sustainability is no longer a tick box or checklist exercise, but an environmental, economic and social factor that affects our lives in nearly every way imaginable. Knowing that our youth does not exist on Planet B and achieving 360° sustainable development is critical for all. Now more than ever, people are paying attention to sustainability and social issues. They require businesses to step up and operate under sustainability standards.
“We call on all businesses to use their creativity and innovation to address sustainability challenges,” says the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
An environmentally conscious business considers not only profits, but also its impact on society and the environment. Leading companies recognize the urgency of adopting more sustainability-focused business practices and reducing their carbon footprint. Authorities need to ensure that companies’ strategies are aligned with their sustainability efforts. This consistency enables companies to optimize operations while reducing their environmental impact.
Achieving business sustainability goals – a priority
Recent research has found that more than 70% of global consumers are willing to change their spending habits to reduce their environmental impact. To keep striving in a competitive world, businesses need to provide services that not only benefit consumers but also the environment. People really want to know you’re doing a good job, not business as usual. For example, by 2050, global energy use is expected to increase by nearly 50%. Investing in clean, accessible, affordable and sustainable green energy is now a priority for organizations and people.
Technological innovation can help build sustainable businesses with net zero and other environmental, social and governance goals.
Leading companies are already using technology accelerators to achieve the SDGs. For example, IoT, data analytics and sensors are helping to decarbonize industry operations and solve problems by:
Networking and Communication: Efficiently share information between networks, machines and devices.
Monitoring and Tracking: Real-time data capture and reporting of operational performance within connected systems.
Analyze, improve and predict: Gain insights from data to make better decisions about future process efficiency.
Augmentation and Automation: Connecting the digital and physical worlds by remotely managing and creating autonomous systems.
Here are four ways technology can accelerate the net-zero goal:
Process optimization and digitalization: creating sustainable operations that win stakeholder preference and increase business resilience
Adopting advanced technologies, such as cloud-native architectures for data-driven optimization processes, can help companies achieve emission reduction goals and set new industry standards. These measures have the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Carbon Data Transparency: Using a technology-led solution to guide organisations in carbon accounting across the value chain
IoT and blockchain-enabled sustainability solutions can increase transparency at every level of an organization. Data and guidance are visible and accessible to all key stakeholders, which ultimately facilitates sustainable decision-making.
Circular products and services: Building sustainable and reusable products and services that are non-polluting
This involves implementing new product innovations and value chain solutions to fine-tune products, engage consumers and improve performance over time. Such solutions enable companies to create and promote zero-waste products while increasing ROI and building new revenue streams.
Data Ecosystems and Enterprises: Employ Cross-Industry Data Sharing Ecosystems to Comply with Sustainability Regulations
A data ecosystem provides valuable, shared and real-time insights into the environmental and social impact of a product or service, while enabling organizations to achieve their sustainability and compliance goals.
Responsible AI for Sustainable Outcomes
Technologies like artificial intelligence are essentially changing the way we think, live, work, and relate to each other and the outside world. Business operations and processes can be optimized using such AI-enabled applications. While companies use AI to increase efficiency and output and reduce energy costs, training AI requires a lot of energy. Therefore, in order to sustain a business’ efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, it must also consider reducing the carbon output of its AI/ML models. However, organizations can also harness the power of AI to simultaneously reduce their carbon footprint and reduce significant risk.
AI models must be as efficient as possible so that training AI models does not require a lot of energy or computing power to improve accuracy and performance. Businesses need to conduct efficiency and accuracy tests to determine whether the resources used make sense from a business and environmental perspective.
Organizations can control the environment in which they govern AI models. Consider renewable energy sources or choose a service provider that reduces power consumption during AI model training. Businesses can offset the carbon footprint of AI models by funding environmental sustainability efforts.
The success of leading companies depends on leveraging technology from the start. Through advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT or blockchain, companies can analyze, reduce or optimize their impact on the environment. The solution to unlocking a sustainable and healthy planet won’t happen overnight, but technology is definitely part of the solution.
The views expressed above are the author’s own.
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