Industrial developments and related technological advancements have been an important determinant in the course of our history. Over the last century and more, industry has revolutionized our economies and helped drive our societies.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that industry plays an even more ineluctable role in scripting the future of humanity, one that involves sustainable social, environmental, and economic development.
As a global challenge, the climate crisis calls for businesses and countries to move beyond their siloed approaches, commitments, and climate pledges to fully embrace sustainability. The 2030 Agenda philosophy of “no one left behind” requires global partnerships.
With more and more countries investing in resilient infrastructure, there is a growing need to improve our existing industrial infrastructure. Here, technological innovation will be key. Technology is no longer the limiting factor for organizations to become sustainable businesses, rather it is the enabling agent in going green.
Sustainable development calls for institutional and value changes as well as cultural adjustments. As organizations worldwide look to don the green cape, behavioral change and transformation in business processes will be critical in making green technology mainstream. It must be incorporated into mainstream policies to promote national and international cooperation.
In 2024, sustainability will not just be the right thing to do, it will become a core strategic imperative for businesses. In addition to managing top- and bottom-line, forward-looking organizations are now focusing on sustainability as the third dimension to drive business growth. Managing the green ledger will be critical to enterprise success as customers, employees, and even investors increasingly turn toward companies that are pro-actively deploying sustainable business practices.
A Shared Responsibility Between Private Sector and Technology Leaders
In the battle against climate change, the private sector and technology leaders bear a significant responsibility. The crucial role businesses play in contributing to environmental goals underscores the importance of partnerships with key stakeholders — be it ecosystem partners, governments, non-governmental organizations, or citizens. The focus is on global and local examples where collaborative efforts have illustrated tangible impact achievable through cross-sector collaboration.
Partnerships that leverage the distinctive strengths and resources of each sector demonstrate how collective action can lead to meaningful change. The collaborative approach is presented as imperative for tackling the complexity of climate challenges.
Governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and citizens are not merely spectators, but active participants in the collective effort to combat climate change.
Governments wield significant influence in shaping policies and regulations that set the tone for environmental stewardship. Their commitment to sustainable practices and climate-friendly policies is pivotal. Businesses, as drivers of economic activity, hold a dual responsibility – not only to operate profitably but also to do so in an environmentally conscious manner. NGOs play a crucial role in advocacy and action, acting as watchdogs and catalysts for change. Citizens, too, are integral, as consumers and advocates who influence the demand for sustainable practices.
The Path to a Low-Carbon Future Is Circular
The path to a low-carbon future is circular. The good news is that a circular economy is not just about fixing environmental wrongs but brings about opportunities and drives positive impact across industries, sectors, and lives. Working toward a circular economy can protect human health and biodiversity in many ways, including better use of natural resources, such as protecting water and land, thus mitigating the climate crisis.
Organizations like SAP are leading this shift with an aim to become carbon-neutral in their own operations by 2023.
At SAP Labs India, 97% of the energy consumed at the Bengaluru campus comes from green energy sources. Additionally, 70% of the transport services are run on electric vehicles with a network of 65 charging stations at the campus for employees. This environmentally conscious approach extends to food sourcing, actively supporting local farmers and communities. Moreover, there has been a seamless replacement of disposable items like cutlery and containers with sustainable alternatives. Dedication to paperless operations is evident in the success of apps like Appane, Physio app, and the digital printing and stationery request system,which collectively contribute to a substantial reduction in paper consumption. The transition from traditional paper food coupons to a user-friendly app developed externally is a clear demonstration of an innovative approach to sustainable practices.
To drive sustainable business practice, it is important to first measure carbon footprint, assess and reduce emissions, increase resource productivity through circular processes, and run safer, sustainable business processes. SAP is uniquely positioned to help firms tackle this challenge and become sustainable enterprises with its suite of technology solutions.
Through partnerships, innovative practices, and a holistic approach to sustainability, all the stakeholders need to come together to shape a future where businesses thrive in harmony with the environment.
Sindhu Gangadharan is senior vice president and managing director of SAP Labs India and head of SAP User Enablement.