Sustainability is a Business Approach to Creating Long-Term Value

Jadd Elliot Dib, the Founder, and CEO at Pangaea X, says big data can generate useful insights toward fostering environmental sustainability

How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Technology is our greatest asset in this race to achieve sustainability and eventually net zero. Advances in technology have definitely contributed to the problem, however now that we have certain technologies, it is time to use them in our favour.

Technology is used at every step in this journey from identifying how bad the problem really is, where we are headed if we do not make a change, and where we could be should we make certain changes. This problem was not created overnight and will certainly not be solved overnight. We have years, if not, many decades of data, which truly allows us to dig deeper into the details of where the major contributors are, and how to tackle them.

What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
Being an online business and platform we already have an extremely low footprint and plan to keep it that way. But if you ask me how Pangaea X can help in sustainability efforts. Well, our bread & butter is data. Our team of experts in the field can gather data and discover what your current sustainability performance is and where the best sustainability opportunities lie.

Additionally, big data can generate useful insights towards fostering environmental sustainability. Mining big data is essential to predicting, planning, managing, and controlling environmental processes. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), modelling, simulation, and user interfaces, are key tools for environmental sustainability that can also be used to improve green infrastructure and optimise energy use, water consumption, and reduce waste and pollution.

For example, big data can provide new and powerful ways of studying and improving environmental, social, and economic systems to enhance urban sustainability by allowing scientists to discover, analyse, and better understand environmental changes from micro to global scale. There are infinite ways in which big data can enhance our ability to live sustainably. The first step, however, is for organisations to adopt data capture and analysis as a regular practice.

Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
Paying attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are becoming increasingly critical for all companies across all industries. In the latest McKinsey Global Survey, 83% of C-suite executives and investment professionals believe that ESG programs will generate more shareholder value in five years’ time than they do today. And in Accenture’s research on responsible leadership, companies with high ratings for ESG performance enjoyed average operating margins 3.7 times higher than those of lower ESG performers. Shareholders also received higher annual total returns to shareholders, outpacing poorer ESG performers by 2.6 times.

Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organisation operates in the ecological, social, and economic environments. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies fosters company longevity.

How can companies reduce their carbon footprint? Are there local or regional initiatives that encourage companies to adopt best practices?
Businesses in MENA can play a key role in protecting their country’s economy, environment, and population from the impacts of climate change. By accelerating commitment, execution capability, and resource availability, they can incentivise climate adaptation initiatives.

Additionally, reducing greenhouse gas emissions benefits the bottom line because efficient practices reduce operating costs and help increase employee productivity.  In fact, a majority of workers would be more satisfied in a job where they can make a social or environmental impact on the world. Recent studies suggest that millennials especially see businesses as potential partners in helping them make the world a better place. Plenty of opportunities to save energy and enhance your workplace experience exist. No matter your title or role, you can help make your workplace a little greener and reduce emissions that are contributing to climate change.

What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
Climate change affects every country, disrupts economies and natural habitats, and puts the future of the planet at grave risk. Even though some damage is irreversible, it is still possible, with the use of a wide variety of technological measures, to control the increase in temperature globally. Addressing environmental concerns and operating in a sustainable manner are becoming increasingly important to businesses as they adapt and contribute to the growing governmental and societal drive for sustainable development.
Data science can help the corporate world to optimise resource consumption. Governments can now adopt insights from real-time environmental quality data.

The data output can then be used to monitor the emissions of large utility facilities, and adjust if the data shows detrimental effects on the environment. According to a recent Gartner report, business leaders must explore a combination of big data analytics and advanced AI to provide a richer context for accurate business decision-making. This will also help with the predictive analytics aspects that are increasingly becoming the front and centre of any sustainable business initiative.

What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
In today’s ever-evolving world, debating whether to incorporate sustainability into your business strategy is no longer an option. Considering a values-driven approach when developing business strategies can be vital to long-term success. In addition to driving social and environmental change, sustainability initiatives can contribute to an organisation’s overall success. It may seem counterintuitive that spending more money on sustainable business practices can boost a company’s profitability, but studies show that the most sustainable companies are also the most profitable.

If your organisation commits to sustainable products and practices, it could gain market share by converting sustainability-minded customers and increasing sales. As an individual, it can feel overwhelming, isolating, or simply impossible to effect change in a meaningful way. That’s not the case when the most innovative, successful, and powerful companies are collaborating to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. While governments struggle to address public goods problems, purpose-driven companies working together to address these issues have experienced great success.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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