• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Pressure mounts on businesses to step up progress towards sustainability

Pressure mounts on businesses to step up progress towards sustainability

Increasingly, pressure is mounting on businesses all over the world to step up progress towards achieving their sustainability targets by focusing on a growing environment, social and governance (ESG) capabilities.

This pressure is coming on the heels of an interesting development which shows that, in recent years, the business community has seen an increasing number of companies coming to appreciate the importance of ESG for their businesses.

They have, therefore, moved towards adopting ESG goals, incorporating targets such as net zero emissions, being water positive and zero-waste, and having other long-term sustainability goals.

“There is sound business sense behind the move towards sustainable business practices. Sustainability reduces costs and can affect operating profits by up to 60 percent,” Ola Williams, Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, said, quoting McKinsey & Company.

To build more quickly towards a global net-zero carbon economy, organizations of all types, sizes and sectors are facing the need to transform common practices. These practices, according to Williams, include more effectively managing their environmental footprint, embedding sustainability through their organizations and value chains, and making strategic business investments that drive value.

He said that this is no small undertaking and therefore it starts with solving a data problem.

Organisations should not just talk about ESG, but must measure it, meaning that, in order to progress their sustainability agenda, organizations need to not only set sustainability targets but track them as well because, under normal circumstances, no organisation can progress what it can’t measure.

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“The challenge, however, is that many businesses lack the timely, accurate access to the information they need to monitor their sustainability efforts, with fragmented data sitting in siloes across the organization. It can be difficult to unify and consolidate this information into one sustainability scorecard or keep track of progress against their goals year-on-year,” Williams said.

He noted that organizations needed more accessible, centralized data intelligence to make the decisions that were required to address these complex issues, weighing both business and ESG criteria to direct capital toward investment opportunities that balance growth and impact.

He cited a report by PWC which notes that cloud-based data management and reporting could help support ESG by automating processes and standardizing the data, providing increased transparency within the organization as leaders seek to better understand diverse social and environmental risks.

He added that integrated data solutions enable organizations to examine and manage the footprints of their facilities, fleets, and production processes and shift the activities of their people to be responsive to the changing requirements of a sustainable economy.

“Although it’s important to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and emissions, it’s also critical to adopt integrated systems to facilitate the transition to clean energy. As Microsoft itself has found, for most organizations, this won’t be a straight path.

It will require some degree of flexibility as markets and energy infrastructures beyond their control change. But intelligent tools can help organizations predict and adapt to changes while continuing to accelerate progress,” the country manager said.

He said that, for chief information officers (CIOs) who are tracking emissions, the starting point ‘the home’. This is why Deloitte says that, as organizations work towards net zero carbon emissions, they must adopt cleaner and greener hyperscale data centres and replace fossil fuels-based grid energy with renewable resources. Similarly, Accenture stated that migrations to the public cloud can reduce CO² emissions by 59 million tons per year, which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road.

Similarly, for organizations that are working towards net-zero goals, eliminating emissions from their own IT operations is a significant part of this journey. How CIOs deploy and configure their IT tools can affect the environmental footprint of their own systems.

“One of the key challenges is ensuring that organizations gain the transparency and insights they need to manage their environmental footprint, and embed sustainability initiatives throughout the organization and value chain to create new value,” Williams said.

Continuing, he said, “moving to the cloud is an important part of the sustainability journey for CIOs. On-premise data-centres are resource-intensive, and one-way organizations can reduce their environmental impact and increase business value is when they replace tools, systems or activities with more efficient options.”

He added that moving workloads to the cloud, for example, could have a dramatic impact on an organization’s carbon footprint, increasing both carbon and energy efficiencies, and helping companies reach emission reduction targets.