C. P. Gurnani is MD and CEO, Tech Mahindra.
The year 2020 took the world to that terminal where everyone stood together to pause and reflect on their fast-paced journey of life through the years. Yes, the learnings were many but one of the key takeaways was the way nature responded to the lockdown. The deserted streets gave way to cleaner air, the return of wildlife in some parts of the world gave us all a moment to introspect on the impact of our day-to-day actions on nature and our future generations.
There could not have been a better time to assess our priorities and track our progress on building a sustainable, futuristic world with equitable growth opportunities. Equitable growth is all about balancing aspects related to people, planet and profits—the anchors on which a sustainable and resilient economy is built. While we seem to have digressed, we are still a few steps away from the point of no return. So what can we do to ensure that we come back from there?
Play the green digital economy card
2020 was a boon for businesses that had embraced the digital ecosystem and a wake-up call for businesses that had not done so. Now is the time to integrate sustainability even while being digital, which can take us closer to a green digital economy.
One of the major features of digitalisation is that it involves a redesign of core organisational processes around data systems. The value that we can derive from this is that it enables us to monitor the working of systems and allows decision-makers to understand activities and patterns in the system and draw accurate and relevant insights. This can aid in green-rollout strategies such as smart energy systems, energy-efficiency subsidies, and green infrastructure.
Digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence can improve energy efficiency in systems through pattern recognition, forecasting, and real-time decision support. Internet of Things can play a major role in making cities smart through the collection and analysis of data through connected things. Blockchain is another digital technology that can help ensure supply chain transparency and efficiency through features such as ‘smart contracts’, and enable paperless transactions.
We all have witnessed how digitalisation has helped many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in creating a market imprint. Getting them on board for United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) will help shape resilient and sustainable businesses.
Enable transformation through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Covid-19 has reiterated the need for prompt action and upgradation in business models that are more environment-friendly. Businesses have to undergo an inside-out transformation right from the purpose of the company to governance, corporate strategy, operations, and stakeholder relations to achieve identified goals. In other words, a collective global response, free from the vestiges of our past actions, is required.
As a part of our vision to achieve shared success for all in the post-Covid-19 world, it is important that we develop business models that integrate SDGs into the internal processes and growth strategies to make ‘sustainability’ a core aspect of businesses.
2021: Let’s embrace the green new normal
Being the fuel of an economy, businesses today have a critical role to play in responding to the climate emergency by integrating a precise environment action plan into their growth strategies. A well-defined transition to a green economy will create opportunities for all. According to OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), the green economy proportion of the global market capitalisation is growing, while the fossil fuel sector is shrinking.
Rewarding and encouraging innovative and sustainable ideas for business—including less corporate travel, shared company transport in place of private cars, digital vaults, and online meetings—can make a big difference when practiced collectively. If we think hard, I am sure that the perspective of placing planet and people before profit will eventually end up making our businesses a lot more profitable. Sustainability officers today have a major role in balancing environmental mandates along with business ambitions and integrating sustainability into boardroom discussions. This will further help in protecting the interest of all stakeholders.
Integration between digital and green economy can create new opportunities for sustainable development and economic recovery in the post Covid-19 era. It will foster the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that will in turn drive positive outcomes for our economy.
The writer is MD and CEO of Tech Mahindra