World Environment Day 2022: Technology companies on prioritizing sustainability and driving transformative environmental change
A recent study by NASSCOM and BCG highlights that increased efforts towards ESG initiatives will drive growth for technology organisations in India. The emphasis on sustainability not only has a positive impact on the planet but also presents a huge economic opportunity. That’s why recent years have seen sustainability emerge at the top of the corporate agenda, with both clients and employees choosing to partner with companies that have prioritized it.
Today, as the world celebrates Environment Day, we hear from some of the experts from the technology industry on why sustainability should be made a priority for technology companies.
“Overconsumption and climate change are some of the most pressing issues of our times. As per the 2021 United Nations Global Compact–Accenture CEO Study, which surveyed over 1200 CEOs across 113 countries and 21 industries, climate change is already being felt by many, across industries and geographies. Extreme climate-related weather events require collective global action and collaboration. A carbon-neutral future will require immense innovation and the continued rapid acceleration to digital, to bring this to life.
At Accenture, we are committed to measuring our success by how well we create 360-degree value for all our stakeholders – clients, people, partners, shareholders and communities – and on our culture of shared success. As an example, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement, we have pledged to do our part to keep global warming below 1.5° Celsius as one of the companies that have signed the United Nations Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5° Pledge. To meet our commitment of being net-zero by 2025, we’re first focusing on actual reductions in our emissions by committing to power our offices with 100% renewable electricity by 2023; engaging key suppliers to reduce their emissions; and being thoughtful about how we travel. To address remaining emissions, we are investing in proprietary, nature-based carbon removal projects across the globe that directly remove emissions from the atmosphere.
We also work closely with our clients and ecosystem partners to help transition industries to low-carbon energy; reduce the carbon footprint of IT, cloud and software; design and deliver net-zero, circular supply and value chains that embed sustainability at the core.” – Ajay Vij, Managing Director—Geographic Services, Accenture in India
“Sustainability is not only crucial for the planet but also represents a vast economic opportunity for businesses. With the increasing role of technology in helping companies innovate and provide better customer experience, it has become extremely pivotal for technological companies to align their business practices with Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) goals.
By committing to green initiatives, technology companies can contribute to making a positive impact towards climate change. This will not only make the world greener and sustainable but will also drive business efficiency, competitive agility, employee engagement and growth. Most importantly, this helps instill trust in the eyes of their stakeholders.
We, at Birlasoft, are committed to doing business responsibly with a special focus on Sustainability. Birlasoft aims to create sustainable community driven model and collaborate with stakeholders for developmental change in ecosystem.
We are driving a number of ESG-led projects, including Shodhan, a crop residue management programme which aims to eliminate the practice of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and improve the air quality in the region through “Zero Stubble Burning.” We advocate the use of environmentally friendly agriculture methods and straw management. It is absolutely necessary for businesses to work together and develop diverse ESG projects for a more significant impact. As a collective, we will be able to create a sustainable future for the planet.” – Mr. Arun Dinakar Rao, Chief People officer, Birlasoft
“As companies seek to scale, create an impact and improve the quality of their products on the back of emerging technologies, it’s especially important for companies to ensure their practices, systems and processes catalyses this commitment. It is also critical to extend these efforts to their customers and communities around them. For example, Intuit aims to help 1 million U.S. small businesses cut their carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. As a company we made a decade-long commitment to surpass carbon neutrality by 2 million metric tonnes, but we know we have to do more. Small businesses can use our marketplace to find win-win solutions and join us in our collective movement toward small business climate action.
Internally as well, we remain committed to making sustainable impact at scale through initiatives across the organization. Last year, we ensured our employees were able to take advantage of climate-positive programs, adding sustainability-related expenses, including purchases like e-bikes, solar panels and more to our annual Well-Being for Life Program, providing reimbursements up to $1,000 for all related expenses. Our employees can now calculate their at-home carbon footprint and receive recommended solutions to reduce it, ranging from purchasing an e-bike for their commute to installing solar panels to supply their home electricity. In FY 2022, this benefit will increase to $1,300 for all employees to further invest in their well-being, in a manner that suits them best. At Intuit, we strive to measure success by focusing on positively impacting our employees, customers, the communities we serve and our shareholders”. – Saurabh Saxena, Site Leader and Vice President of Product Development, Intuit India
Environment protection isn’t a job of a single individual, company, or organization, it’s a collective responsibility of all of us. Paying attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns is becoming increasingly critical for all organizations across all industries. And the technology sector is no different. Undoubtedly by going green, tech companies can play a significant role in correcting the effects of climate change using their resources and platform. This will help businesses contribute to two things: making the world greener and sustainable and secondly, it helps companies create an innovative culture, improve efficiency, competitive agility, employee engagement, and thus drive growth.
Besides, it’s not just the tech companies that aggressively implement sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices; it’s also consumers who demand it. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, there has been a 71% rise in global online searches for sustainable goods over the past 5 years. Also, research by New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business has found that sustainable brands have increased their share of the U.S. market during the pandemic, demonstrating this trend. This trend isn’t just in first-world countries or the FMCG industry; it’s everywhere! Customers are engaging with sustainable businesses in ways that they previously ignored. While many consumers actively seek out brands and companies that align with their values, they’re also willing to switch products/companies when something violates their ethics. These proof points are testament to the fact that sustainability is more important than ever today. Technology companies have a strong global reach and impact on people, hence they have a great opportunity to lead the way by incorporating sustainability into their core philosophy.
Over the past 10 years, environmental issues have encroached on businesses’ capacity to create value for customers, partners, and stakeholders. Managing climate-related risks and creating opportunities for business growth are intertwined, and tech companies understand that. Managing the green line is an imperative business approach in creating long-term value. As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, having sustainable strategies in place is a ‘must-have,’ not a ‘nice to have.’ For the IT sector, the two major concerns are managing e-waste and reducing carbon footprint. At CSS Corp, we have implemented an effective carbon management strategy and sustainable business practices that help enrich our environment and not suffocate it.
As part of the digital initiative, CSS Corp has started to expand its capabilities to include website carbon neutral strategies and cater to the growing demand for sustainable services for existing and new clients. We have conducted extensive research work on assessing carbon scores of over 500 websites and analyzed the factors that impact the scores, and devised optimization approaches for greener websites. Besides, our efficient and sustainable practices helped us reduce GHG emissions by about 91%, prevented the axing of approximately 72 fully grown trees, reduced electricity consumption by 50,08,880 KWhr, and disposed of 442kgs E-waste through authorized recyclers.
Our work culture promotes global environmental sustainability — the consistent emphasis on reducing energy levels, including monitoring energy consumption trends, identifying reduction opportunities, and technology up-gradation, continues to be on our priority list. Since 2014, we have been committed to UNGC principles and support its efforts by ensuring our business practices are built on equality, sustainability, and human rights.
The core value of ESG is being a responsible and trustworthy business. At CSS Corp, there has been a strong encouragement to adopt agile working practices such as minimizing commute, which in a way influences reduction of carbon footprint. The awareness of mental health importance across different global centers have helped employees in fostering good work-life balance. ESG is a complex topic that has evolved rapidly in the last decade, and many concepts and themes have matured into standard practices. In the coming years, there are likely to be more mandatory demands from both consumers and end-users, and many organizations are actively working on adopting, acting more responsible and leverage technology to create sustainable outcomes. – Kiran Marri, Chief Scientist, CSS Corp
“We’re in a digital age and technology is powering every sector. This means that the actions of tech companies hold a lot of weight, and small changes in their ESG policies and processes can create a widespread positive impact. Green-tech innovations have the potential to enable companies and entire industries to meet their sustainability goals and reduce carbon footprints on a mammoth scale. So, sustainability should remain a priority in tech as it has this wonderful multiplier effect. Moreover, businesses are definitely taking into account that managing the green line is not just important from the perspective of environmental and social consciousness, but to be recognized by employees, consumers/clients, partners, and the industry at large, as people take pride in being associated with an environmentally responsible organization.
Since its inception, STL has included sustainability in its business approach. We are focused on creating green and sustainable digital networks. In a physically diverse and climatically demanding region, our low-carbon strategy has preserved shareholder interests while simultaneously delivering a healing touch to the subcontinent’s teeming millions. Environmental targets such as zero waste to landfills, water positively, sustainable sourcing, and net-zero emissions by 2030 are at the heart of STL’s reaction to the threat of climate change. We pursue a circular economy approach focused on repurposing industrial byproducts into the value chain. We have recycled, reused, and co-processed 97% of the waste generated, optimizing the emission profile of our manufacturing operations and as well as avoiding harmful methane emissions from landfills. We have undertaken massive afforestation drives and promoted smart agricultural practices to offset carbon emissions even in rural areas. For instance, our Mission Green program, among many objectives, involves the local communities in the protection of trees around Aurangabad and Pune. While leading to over 170,000+ plantations to date, the initiative has improved the green cover in these regions and is creating sustainable livelihoods through smart agricultural practices. It is imperative that organisations around the world, like us, see ESG as an important business pillar in order to achieve the scale of impact required to control the effects of climate change.” – Akanksha Sharma, Global Head ESG, STL
“Climate change has become a worldwide issue and, a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies needs to be done to reach net zero by 2050! India has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 and, go clean & green by 2030. To this effect, our country aims to meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. In addition, the country’s emissions intensity, or emissions per unit GDP, will be reduced by at least 45 per cent by the year 2030 from the 2005 levels. In its existing target, India had promised to reduce its emissions intensity by 33 to 35 per cent by that date. Electric Vehicles (EV) have been receiving a full throttle push and widespread acceptance for their near-zero emission capabilities, making them an important part of meeting global goals on climate change. They feature prominently in mitigation pathways that limit warming to well-below 2C or 1.5C, which would be inline with the Paris Agreement’s targets. To help our nation meet the promise of Net Zero 2070, clean & green 2030, Aeris India has been investing in creating right sized connected technologies and battery management systems for EVs. We are working actively to strengthen the Indian EV ecosystem. While there is a long road ahead of us, our continuous efforts have helped us in clocking 120 million kilometres of green driving, saving 9100 metric tonnes of CO2. This equates to approximately 6 lakh trees. Our company is dedicated to make India a carbon-free, clean, and green with cutting edge IoT solutions and services which are Made in India and deployed globally in the mobility, energy, BFSI, manufacturing, healthcare and the agriculture sectors.” – Shweta Berry, Director Marketing & Head of Strategic Alliances, Sales Enablement+Lead Generation, Marcom, PR & CSR, Aeris Communications
“As companies aspire to scale, make an impact, and improve the quality of their products as a result of emerging technology, they must ensure that their strategy, processes, and procedures catalyse this commitment. It’s extremely critical that companies extend these efforts to their consumers and the communities where they do business. Multiple factors of creating a healthy company environment are included in the term “sustainability.” Companies must balance the growth, support, and advancement of individuals and contributions to society in order to ensure resources for future generations, much as people must balance their physical, mental, spiritual, and financial wellbeing. To promote new solutions for actual environmental effect, technology companies must embrace these principles.” – Katie Cook, President – North America and Global Program Manager for ESG, Cyient
“World Environment Day serves as a prominent reminder for businesses and individuals to revaluate how we can protect and restore our planet. For businesses, it is a prompt to take actions on introducing more sustainable operations and supply chain processes, while individuals embrace eco-conscious shopping behaviours that place greater emphasis on sustainable business practices. In fact, OpenText research reveals 29 per cent of Indian consumers would never buy from a business again if it were accused of working with unethical suppliers and a staggering 79 per cent agree businesses have a responsibility to ensure their suppliers abide by an ethical code.
The consumer pressure combined with new government green targets in the past 24 months have forced businesses to change the way they manage supply chain disruptions from the pandemic. Businesses are finally focused on embracing the need for a more sustainable world as a business imperative – from sustainable sourcing, to removing black plastics from everyday food shopping and exploring electric vehicle – based last mile delivery networks in city centres.
One of the most effective ways businesses can embrace sustainability is by digitising their supply chain platforms. While they should be aiming to digitise 100 per cent of the information flowing across their supply chain operations, many struggle to achieve this. The first step is to establish a cloud-based infrastructure that offers indirect green benefits. Cloud integration allows IT teams to remotely implement, manage and support cloud infrastructure without travelling to different office locations. OpenText connects over 1.1 million companies across its business network and has helped businesses make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the CO2 emissions generated by 167,423 cars in just one year.” – George Harb, Regional Vice President | Business Ecosystems APAC at OpenText
“Climate change is by far one of the most pressing issues across the globe and looking at the enormous impact it has on humanity, we have initiated multiple interventions to strengthen our efforts toward sustainability and carbon neutrality. For instance, in an active effort to reduce carbon footprints, we have planted over 2500+ saplings and continue to do so on every special occasion. All our three IDCs in India including the recently opened in Bengaluru and Gurugram are biophilic in design nature and also ensure energy conservation across the premises. The offices are equipped with IoT-based sensors which aid in adjusting light basis the ambient lux levels and HVAC on basis of occupancy further enabling us to reduce our overall carbon footprint. Other initiatives include being one with nature, vertical / wall gardens, and sensor-based utilities to limit the actual usage of water. At Compass IDC we believe in collective responsibility that is consistent with interventions today for a better, brighter, and greener tomorrow” – Vikram Kumar, Senior Director of Business Operations, Compass India Development Centre
“In India, every year, more than 20 million 2 wheelers are sold. The rising temperatures and vehicular pollution, in addition to the increasing fuel costs, have necessitated the faster adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). While the government is making efforts both in terms of policy push and infrastructure, we need to wake up to the reality of climate change and embrace sustainable mobility.
The theme of this year’s environment day is Only One Earth and we must come together to take efforts to make our planet clean and green for generations to come. At BLive we are driving awareness and encouraging people to shift to sustainable mobility.’’ –Sandeep Mukherjee – Chief Operating Officer & Co-founder – BLive
“It’s time for humans to behave or perish as the climate emergency and prevailing pandemic have hit us hard. We must come together to align our strategies to shape a circular economy and improve the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits, thereby transitioning towards a green sustainable future — energy-efficient and low on emissions.
We must realise that the environment is no one’s property to destroy — it is everyone’s responsibility to protect. There is no Planet B. If there’s any legacy worth to be passed down to the future generations, then Mother Earth has to be a safe haven for all – with equitable and inclusive growth opportunities and resources for each of its inhabitants.” – CP Gurnani, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra,
“The World Environment Day 2022 campaign, #OnlyOneEarth, prompts individuals and organisations to undertake globally collective, transformative action with the aim of protecting and restoring the planet. The pandemic, and other global environmental crises such as climate change and natural disasters, have brought the focus back on sustainable measures and it is imperative that we, as a society, join hands and rejuvenate the Earth. Barco recognized the importance of sustainability early, and we have taken consistent steps to lower our ecological impact. Our solutions are aimed at minimising carbon footprint and the Barco eco-scoring system evaluates the sustainability of each product. For instance, in the entertainment segment, the 4th generation of Barco laser projectors are designed in close collaboration with industry partners to create a green laser projection family for all cinema screens.” – Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, at Barco
“This year’s theme and focus of World Environment Day 2022 is ‘Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature’, and truly this is the need of the hour. India announced new climate targets at COP26 under the ‘Panchamrit strategy’. The targets include reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 and using non-fossil-fuel sources for half of its energy requirements by 2030, among others. The goals are ambitious but achievable with the right collaboration and engagement between governments, enterprises, and citizens. Conservation of our forests is key to sustainability, and this would be more important now than ever. Technologies like remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) will be the key enablers to drive various programs and initiatives.
GIS is already fostering sustainable living by enabling early prevention and mitigation of disasters, monitoring of plantation/afforestation activities, management of human-wildlife conflicts, evaluating carbon footprint, forest fire management, protected area management, and more. While hotspot analyses by state forest departments are helping in curbing human-animal conflicts, GeoHubs are enabling the officials to manage the forests and wildlife in a more coordinated way and also drive inclusive participation with larger stakeholder communities including citizens. Indo ArcGIS, a recently launched new offering from Esri India can help in more efficient planning and monitoring of forest plantations, prevention, and mitigation of forest fires, evaluation of carbon sequestration, and more. Using GIS, India can also fulfill its energy goals more effectively as the technology aids in easy identification of areas with high potential for developing renewable energy sources, and regions with restrictions on their exploitation.
To make a significant difference, along with the Government, businesses also need to develop a deeper understanding of sustainability. With ESG-driven investments gaining momentum, there would be more concrete efforts toward protecting the environment, including new corporate policies addressing climate change. Adopting the ‘geographic approach’ will be instrumental since environmental and social factors are rooted in location. Location Intelligence, powered by GIS technology, will play a crucial role to turn the climate situation around.” – Agendra Kumar, MD, Esri India
“We live in a fast-paced world where technology plays a major role in connecting our everyday lives. With the increased use of technology, we also witness the rise in e-wastage that is a cause of pollution in the current times. Earthion is Acer’s initiative for us all to engineer a better tomorrow.
As a responsible company, we have launched Acer Vero, which is a sustainable and high-performing computing solution. Vero products are made from recycled materials and use PCR plastic to manufacture laptops and accessories. We have made nearly 8.8+ million products using PCR plastic and have Applied PCR plastic in 300+ models over the last few years. 24% of our PCs and monitors comply with EPEAT/TCO and Green Mark environmental labels and 95% of our products comply with IEC. For Acer, sustainability does not end with just the laptop, we also extend this effort in our logistics and packaging, and recycling. Our operations use clean and renewable energy to keep fossils underground and generate renewable energy in-house and have adopted guaranteed renewable energy sources in countries across the world.
This World Environment Day, Acer would like to encourage brands in the technology industry to join us in this initiative and manufacture products that are safe for the Earth. More than a trend, this is a necessity to tackle our generation’s environmental challenges through innovative and integrated solutions.” – Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing , Acer India
In the face of escalating environmental risks, educational technology can play a revolutionary role in building a digitally-enabled learning environment in schools, reducing the need for textbooks, on-premise resources, and paper to a greater extent. Edtech tools and applications are more intelligent than ever before, and they provide a slew of environmental advantages.
Smart AI and ML integration in ed-tech systems provide for flexible learning and interaction from anywhere, reducing reliance on transportation, staffing, and other resources. Moving tests, study materials, and other assignments and manual activities online will enable shared learning in a paperless environment for schools and other brick and mortar institutions. Furthermore, digital learning necessitates the use of cloud virtual machines to create and deploy edtech applications, reducing reliance on on-premise hardware and reducing e-waste and energy usage.
The next wave of innovative breakthroughs involves combining several AI algorithms and AI concepts to create edtech technology solutions that are effective for development and deployment while taking up less cloud storage space. To properly integrate ed-tech, it goes without saying that significant investment is required to train and educate the entire population of instructors and students. Leaders in the education system, on the other hand, have the power to affect a significant move toward sustainability. – Deep Dwivedi – Vice President, Data Science – Research & Development, Extramarks Education
The theme for World Environment Day this year ‘Only One Earth’ with a focus on ‘Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature’ can’t ring truer at a better time. Our environment, time and again, has been subjected to the ill effects of climate change right from rising carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, and improper waste disposal. Now, coupled with a global pandemic, it has only made it imperative to protect what nature has bestowed upon us.
In the coming decade, businesses should prioritise sustainability; only by prioritising it now will we be able to adapt to a way of life that allows everyone to prosper. To achieve this, innovation is the only route forward, and it must be pursued. At Cyware, our next phase of growth stands at the cusp of innovation that prioritizes sustainability. – Akshat Jain, CTO & Co-founder, Cyware)
“Forming the pivot of all operations, sustainability drives Axis Communications to develop and innovate industry leading and reliable products and solutions for its customers. Our slew of continued efforts towards selecting the right suppliers, reducing plastics and ensuring sustainable practices in our entire value chain reinforces our aim of innovating responsibly. Focusing on people, planet and prosperity, we strive to create a long-term stakeholder value through our business strategies.
In 2021, we launched AXIS Q1656, its first camera containing the biobased plastic EcoPAXX: a high-performance polyamide, which is made from renewable castor bean oil and is carbon neutral from cradle to end of life. The company also increased the number of BFR/CFR-free products in its portfolio.” – Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India & SAARC
We, at 75F, believe that it is our responsibility, as individuals and as a business, to start taking action against these factors that exploit our planet. We feel that the technological advancement of humans might be a big factor towards this crisis – keeping this in mind, we have ensured that our solutions in building automation are designed to minimize energy wastage and leverage an eco-friendly approach. We are not trying to change the world. We are building a better one.
We should consider this year’s World Environment Day as an opportunity for people to come together and become representatives of the environment. It is time for us to shift our focus towards creating a nurturing environment that protects nature.” – Gaurav Burman- VP & APAC President, 75F, India
“It is vital to acknowledge and understand the effects human interactions with the environment have had on the world we live in. Issues such as global warming, the depletion of ozone layer, CO2 emissions and other climatic changes are threatening our future way of life. It is truly imperative that while striving towards meeting our development goals we also consider how we can achieve those goals without damaging the environment unnecessarily.
Fluent Commerce believes in striking a healthy balance between development and environmental contribution by focussing on sustainable growth. For us as a business, and as a vision for our customers. Running sustainable businesses today is the only way to secure our tomorrow. Individuals all need to contribute. But it is businesses who can make the biggest difference.” – Sandeep Mukherjee, Director, Fluent Commerce- India
“It is imperative to protect what nature has bestowed upon us, as the health of our environment is crucial for the well-being of all lives on this planet. We need to raise awareness about degrading environmental conditions and how we can remedy these. The need of the hour is human-centric, collective efforts that create a sustainable equation between us and our planet.
At an organizational level, corporations need to prioritise sustainability; at KredX, we understand that we have a part to play. One way to do it is by creating products that promote behaviors that are environment-friendly. KredX is playing its part to digitise fintech by working on our processes and making sure that they are quick, simple, and seamless. The goal is a paperless environment and resources like paper are not needed to close a deal or onboard a partner. We also work with companies having sustainable and high ESG scores. We give preferences to ESG companies in terms of higher limits and lower rates to empower them to grow more. As a company, we truly believe in and encourage ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. All our desks are scribble-able, all our communications digital and our pantry is free of single-use plastics. Each step can make a big difference in the future of our planet.” –Manish Kumar, CEO & Founder at KredX