Innovation for  Sustainability: Delivering the Promise of a Sustainable World

Innovation for Sustainability: Delivering the Promise of a Sustainable World

Many companies today consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives as representing opportunities for more efficient management of their human resources and supply chain to achieve improved competitive advantage. Recent trends suggest that more and more companies are adopting CSR approaches to help ensure efficiency, stimulate innovation, and create continued organizational growth. In this environment, innovation can be regarded as being the outcome of specific development projects that are intended for a specific purpose. Innovation also addresses the unexpected identification of more efficient methods of doing business that may not have occurred if it had no initial CSR initiatives.

Lately, innovative endeavors are considered a key factor determining a firm’s ability to sustain its competitive advantage. For example, a firm’s capability to innovate helps them to better respond to the fast and abrupt environmental changes. Truly inspired innovations may be rare, but when taken together over time, they could benefit the company’s bottom line. In some cases, there may well be such an innovative concept, method or device that has potentially widespread consumer appeal that results from a company’s CSR efforts!
Not only is technological innovation booming, but it is rapidly shifting towards sustainable solutions. For example, many of the World Economic Forum’s top 10 most promising technologies have a clear environmental and social focus, such as energy-efficient water purification, enhanced nutrition to drive health at the molecular level, carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion, precise drug delivery through nanoscale engineering, organic electronics and photovoltaics.

With the Internet of Things, or IoT, which includes all the other computing devices apart from PCs, tablets and smartphones, we are on the cusp of a technological revolution. Like the World Wide Web before it, IoT hasn’t come crashing into our lives overnight, rather it slowly and subtly embedded itself into our everyday lives behind the scenes, changing everything from the way our goods are manufactured to the way we heat our homes.

What could prove one of the most important areas the Internet of Things is having a fundamental impact on is sustainability practices, both commercially and in the private sphere. The powerful trend towards increased connectivity seems to be outpacing all others, with perhaps the one exception being corporate sustainability.

CSR programs are no longer just great socially, they are clearly great business. 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies now publish annual corporate responsibility reports, according to KPMG. The initiatives included in CSR programs at huge companies achieve powerful objectives for conserving natural resources while increasing corporate profits and improving brand reputation.

When we approach CSR as a goal, with IoT as the means, breakthroughs in productivity and efficiency are the end result. One way to look at it is by monitoring the energy consumption profiles of a given company’s equipment and optimizing it in real time, they can create the same (or greater) output with more efficient energy use, which enables them to maximize the energy savings of every device and every factory or plant.

By helping companies connect their socially responsible visions and plans with IoT-empowered energy management solutions, we give businesses the ability to eliminate waste, increase profit, and be a solid change in the world. Simply put, the Internet of Things and the data gathered from it helps businesses reduce their energy consumption and improve efficiencies, creating a perfect synergy between sustainability and the digitally connected world.


Creating a Stable Cryptocurrency Ecosystem

Joining the landscape of the digital work are virtual currencies – or Bitcoins, but they haven’t entered the field without making headlines, thanks to the impact they have had, or will have, on the human environment. The race to mine new Bitcoins, deepened by rules that make the process use more computer power as time goes on, threatens to one day to consume as much power as all of Japan! However, this can only become problematic if people continue to want more Bitcoins without fixed rules in place.
In energy terms, an analysis by Motherboard.Vice.com estimated that a single bitcoin transaction requires 215 kilowatt-hours of electricity to process, which is the equivalent of what an average American household consumes in one week. Add this energy wastage to the reputation bitcoin already has for cybercrime and dark market trade, and you can see how, from an ESG perspective, bitcoin proves an even more controversial investment than a commodity-extracting company.

But it’s important to point out that Bitcoin’s energy drain is not due to a permanent flaw in Bitcoin’s protocol. Bitcoin can run more efficiently than any regular financial transactions as it doesn’t require offices, staff and other overhead energy costs. But for that to happen, something needs to change.

One project Bitcoin could learn from is Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency right now. According to Digiconomist, Ethereum uses roughly three times less energy than Bitcoin; and yet there are twice as much transactions per day on Ethereum’s network. In light of this, Bitcoin’s developers are working on a solution called Lightning Network that would greatly increase the number of transactions on the network without the need for additional hash power.


Digital Finance and Sustainabilitty

Another turning point in our current knowledge economy enticing leaders to try to evolve the relationship between business and society is the transformative nature of financial innovations. Specifically, there is a rising awareness about the potential for technology-driven innovation in finance, or fintech, to be harnessed to support sustainable development. The intersection of newer financial tools and technology is creating an enormous impact that can help unleash a sustainable development revolution. How can a new fintech-based initiative do this?

The fact of the matter is that using fintech for sustainability would support a portfolio of innovation projects, with the commercial motivation, and the ability, to implement a solution at scale, aim to help make more capital become available to deliver at least one UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). But how can we leverage this type of inclusive financial growth and merge it with sustainable development? One such method is blockchain technology as its already becoming tremendously relevant to how banks can facilitate internationally funded development projects, especially in developing economies. Blockchain-enabled platforms and processes can seamlessly manage a wide range of stakeholders working in different capacities on different projects across continents. It will increase efficiency, reducing transaction and make climate-related, infrastructure and other sustainable development more attractive for private investments.

Using financial innovation and technology to further sustainable development should accelerate the current momentum. A sincere use of technology has the potential to make climate-related, infrastructure and other sustainable development projects more attractive for private investments while making sure that the knowledge economy and smart technology become truly impact-driven for sustainable development. These innovations should not be viewed as a drain on our energy efficiency, but rather be viewed as a key enabler of optimization, efficiency and sustainability efforts.

 

Author: Responsible Business - Beirut

Source: Responsible Business

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All, 2018

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