What is technology Vs Sustainable Development Goals?

We have heard many about these terms: “Climate Change, NetZero, Decarbonisation”. There is Paris Agreement, nations targeting to combat climate change by 2030, 2050 etc. A lot of sustainable infrastructures are established. They are labelling like Green Buildings, Energy-efficiency labels, etc. Many governments’ funding schemes relate to innovative green technologies and awards. And, because of COVID-19 and the technology development, innovative measures are required nowadays and in the future to combat all sorts of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Digitalisation, Information and Communications Technology are those innovative solutions, and no one can escape from this trend. SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure will become another focus on climate change.

What is the role of ICT in sustainability?

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can spread information around the world, facilitating people to reach the information and education and therefore transforming their lives by having more knowledge. The mass will make the world change.

The ICT practice lies in the goal of economic growth. An increase in technology application is one of the ways to increase in the production of goods and services in an economy. In recent years, especially in Covid time, we’ve heard a lot about the Internet to provide services, such as education, online shopping, and food delivery, for our convenience and health and safety. This is precisely the use of ICT.

Back in 2012, OECD launched a study about “ICT investments and productivity: Measuring the contribution of ICTS to growth”. The study revealed that “ICT producing industries account for no less than two-thirds of total factor productivity (TFP) growth in Germany, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, about 60% in the United States and just below 50% in France and the Netherlands. ” The more modern example is banking service going virtual – online banking, contributing service distribution to a broader scope of audience and territories.

Other than economic growth, nowadays, we all talk about sustainability, ESG. ICT contributes a lot to sustainability and ESG. We apply ICT in managing ESG factors on the dashboard. The company can use the dashboard to manage and monitor the ESG performance for the company itself and its subsidiaries. Environmental and social are two of the dominant factors in sustainability and ESG. ICT in environmental is about environmental data management and monitoring plus the Internet Of Things (IoT). ICT in the social topic is about engagement, inclusion and diversity, such as using 4D virtual reality to educate non-specialists and the general public about the complex data and environment.

Adopting ICT can avoid being suspected of greenwashing too. Greenwashing is a very notorious image that companies would not want to bear. ESG impact is considered, e.g. for a product from raw materials extraction, production, distribution and use. The whole value/supply chain involves different companies and staff from diverse backgrounds. We cannot assume all staff from other experiences, and companies know well about ESG and how to implement it. There’s a technical side of skillsets and knowledge. Not everyone can comprehensively understand the ESG issues and describe them well enough.

For example, the product manufacturer may be different from the one responsible for the packaging. The marketing person may not understand what ESG matters in promoting the products. And the logistics that we often neglect. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has produced “Guidance for Making environmental claims on goods and services” in the UK, advising what and when is misleading the environmental claims. Before claiming the product/service is green, we need to ensure the necessary aspects are examined with proof. Data is the proof.

All-round ESG awareness and education are vital. ICT can spread the message and knowledge widely—the ICT captures, aggregates, stores, analyses, displays, and exports performance data. The accumulated data proof represents the corporate action. ICT itself is an industry. The new market/business model can potentially be explored because of the application of ICT.

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer,YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)