Ever since the United Nations introduced and developed the concept of sustainable development in 1987, the term “sustainability” has become a prevalent topic in discussions related to business, the economy, and the environment. The concept gained further significant attention worldwide in recent years after the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. However, it’s important to ask whether we fully understand the meaning of sustainability and why it’s so critical to the technology industry.
Sustainability refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves striking a balance between economic, social, and environmental factors, ensuring that resources are used in a way that does not deplete them for future use. At its core, sustainability, strives to establish a world that is durable, fair, and habitable for both current and future generations.
Since the explosion of the industrial revolution during the 18th century, human activities have had negative impacts on the environment despite the many benefits of technology during that era. These effects have become more severe in recent years providing the daunting task of tackling climate change and environmental degradation.
The technology industry continues to expand at an unprecedented rate, making it one of the biggest energy consumers, which significantly contributes to environmental degradation. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay close attention to how technology products and innovations impact us as individuals, society, and businesses in terms of social, medical, financial, environmental, and political aspects.
Without a doubt, the giant strides of the technology sector have been a gift and solution to many of our problems, however, we must objectively evaluate the processes that lead to the solutions we enjoy. Understanding and integrating sustainability into the technology sector is essential since technology has become a fundamental part of our daily lives and will continue to be so.
One commendable development in recent years has been the introduction of green tech innovations and solutions. Integrating sustainability into technology enables it to become part of the solution, rather than contributing to the problem, ensuring that natural resources and our planet are not depleted further. One example of such innovation is Direct Air Capture technology, which traps atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through chemical reactions, reducing global warming. By 2030, the Direct Air Capture technology is projected to reduce atmospheric carbon by up to 60Mt per year.
Sustainability in the tech sector is not limited to environmental impact but also encompasses social well-being, business structure, and governance. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) recognizes sustainability as a component, which means that tech companies must ensure that their products, services, and processes are not only profitable but also ethical and contribute to society’s well-being. This includes initiatives aimed at positively impacting society, community engagement, social interventions, and ensuring that employees and vendors are well treated.
Sustainability is a critical pillar that must be integrated into the business model to ensure its viability and profitability through cost savings, improved reputation, increased market share, compliance with regulations and industry standards, investment attractiveness, and more.
In conclusion, sustainability is more than just a buzzword; its importance and benefits extend to multiple spheres and industries. Therefore, understanding sustainability and adopting sustainable practices is crucial in our daily lives and business processes. The Telecommunication and Technology Sustainability Working Group (TTSWG) focuses on promoting sustainability within the tech and telecoms sectors by advocating, providing thought leadership, partnerships, and training, ensuring that stakeholders across levels in the industry are properly informed and engaged to ensure a viable future and improved practices in the sector.