CIO Insider

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Why Sustainability is a Corporate Imperative

Maria Eisner Pelch, Senior Manager, Concordium

For organizations to be relevant and competitive in today's environment, sustainability has become increasingly important. Driving sustainability demands businesses to transform every aspect of their operations, much like driving digital transformation. The development of company strategy nowadays should include consideration of sustainability. Under the now-famous acronym for Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG), sustainability for organizations manifests itself in three domains. Below are key insights shared by Maria Eisner Pelch, Senior Manager, Concordium with CIO Insider magazine.

In conversation with Maria Eisner Pelch, Senior Manager, Concordium

Shed light on the significance of sustainability in the corporate world. Tell us about the sustainable practices executed in business operations by companies to ensure environmental responsibility so far.
The importance of sustainability increased vastly within the last few years. I find it to stem from a combination of factors – for one, customers especially the younger generations are eagerly speaking up for their value, as well as, placing money where their mouth is, betting on sustainable brands that care not only for the climate but also people. Second, regulations have been tightened with more pressure on corporates to report on their emissions to comply with national laws. Therefore it’s no coincidence that sustainability now takes up whole departments to ensure that corporates are regulatory compliant and matching the market needs from their customers. These practices includes anything from reporting on emissions, ensuring initiatives that makes office buildings more energy efficient to creating fair and equal terms for all employees and suppliers.

How are digital tools adding value at each stage of business operations, on the same?
Blockchain, that is decentralized and open can significantly enhance transparency into the overall

operations of businesses.

Currently, there’s a lot of solutions within track and trace and supply chain management. Businesses can find opportunities to lower their carbon footprint and make more sustainable decisions by utilizing blockchain to track the carbon footprint of products and materials across the supply chain. By promoting sustainable production and consumption practices, greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced.

What are the ways sustainable practices contribute towards the business? Does it also provide a competitive advantage to the business?
In short – with no planet, there’s no people and no profit. I do not believe there’s room in the future for companies that are not considerate of the climate, ensuring inclusion and fair business practices. Reducing environmental impact is no longer a ‘nice to have’. Sustainability is not only an imperative for companies, but it’s also a huge opportunity for green business building. According to a McKinsey analysis the growing demand for net-zero offerings could generate $9 trillion to $12 trillion of annual sales by 2030.

Businesses can find opportunities to lower their carbon footprint and make more sustainable decisions by utilizing blockchain to track the carbon footprint of products and materials across the supply chain

Is it challenging to implement these changes in the business? Could you elaborate about the kinds of barriers faced by business and what would you suggest as solutions for the same?
The biggest challenge is getting started, however, with the way regulations are moving soon businesses will not have a choice. Some challenges may be in finding the right technologies and solutions to support the journey, right partners to collaborate with on greener operations and also the right talent to lead the transformation. The best way to start implementing is to try, test and learn. There’s a lot of solutions in the market and many experts. Some of the worlds biggest brands are attempting anything from new materials, regional mini-factories and low-emissions transportation. The most important thing is to set targets and a vision for what you want to achieve and get started.

How do you perceive the road towards becoming environmentally responsible in the corporate world?
I don’t believe that there’s a choice anymore. With customers, corporates and nations all weighing in on the climate challenge. There’s only one option and that is to work on reimagining the way we produce, distribute and consume.

What is your advice to upcoming industry leaders while hacking new opportunities to achieve sustainable goals going forward?
Keep going! It’s important to dream big. There’s a lot of interest in the space, so focus on solving the real and big problems. If you are working on something novel, don’t be scared to reach out to large corporations – they can help with scaling and distribution.

Most important - start building the future of which you would be proud to hand over to your grandkids.

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