Companies are creating exponential value by expanding into new markets and jurisdictions. But being a future leader with a global mindset is about more, it is about championing sustainability today and for our future. What is sustainability and why does it matter to business?
A prestigious panel of experts addressed this critical issue at theTCS Summit Asia Pacific 2019. The panel comprised K. Ananth Krishnan, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Tata Consultancy Services, Julia Kotlarsky, Professor of Information Systems, University of Auckland, Molly Harriss Olson, Chief Executive Officer, Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand, Datuk Md Arif Mahmood, Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer, Downstream, Petronas.
Moderator Michele Lemmens, Head of Business Sustainability, Asia Pacific, Tata Consultancy Services started out by explaining that sustainability is about delivering on the needs of the current, without impacting on the needs of the future to deliver. “We need to consider how to address the key challenges facing our society and environment,” Michele explains. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a clear roadmap against which we can measure the achievement of our goals, she said.
TCS leading by example in sustainability
K. Ananth Krishnan, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Tata Consultancy Services said sustainability and supporting our community is one of TCS’s core values and permeates everything he does. Corporate social responsibility and improving standards of living by focusing on health, education, employment and our environment has been part and parcel of Tata since it was established in 1868. “If society is not in good health, our company cannot be in good health,” Ananth explained. TCS is proudly announcing a new initiative to use its ideathon platform to crowdsource ideas about how companies and society could address sustainability better. “Sustainability is a business opportunity for us and our customers,” he said.
Building our knowledge and understanding about sustainability
Julia Kotlarsky, Professor of Information Systems, University of Auckland said as a member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the university was coming together with other universities, non-government organisations, governments and others, to develop and promote solutions for sustainable development. “Digital technology is assisting in innumerate ways, from driving research achievements in areas such as water management, integrated and renewable energy, and sustainable transport,” Julia said. “Importantly real time data and data analytics are helping us to address challenges in areas such as disaster management, by changing the focus to prevention rather than recovery.”
Digital building a fairer society
Molly Harriss Olson, Chief Executive Officer, Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand said issues, including climate change, water and the impact of plastic waste on our oceans, are existential for life on earth and imperative in our milenia to address. “Working with TCS has been one of my inspirations because of its deep insight into the challenges and opportunities we face and the way business can support humanity and healthy communities,” she said. Using sustainability, technology and innovation, Fairtrade has created a leading alternative trading system. “It’s a trusted and ethical supply chain with its whole purpose around inclusive growth, poverty alleviation and giving everyone a fair go in terms of access to markets,” Molly said. The structure and systems are important for transformation in the way we do commerce, she said. “Creating greater visibility is innovation in itself,” Molly said. “We need to think about ways technology such as data and AI can help to provide solutions that enable us to help each other stay accountable.”
A new framework for sustainability
Datuk Md Arif Mahmood, Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer, Downstream, Petronas said sustainability was not an option and everyone had a role to play. "We need to address sustainability not just from an environmental perspective but also by understanding all the stakeholders and addressing the overall wellbeing both of businesses and the community,” he said. Arif said education about sustainability is leading to greater awareness and insights about the circular economy including reusing, recycling and regenerating waste. And sustainability is leading to new areas of product development, he said. “The technologies we are using to get energy to people in the most cost-effective and sustainable way are advancing every day,” Arif said.
Digital is helping organisations to innovate to develop solutions to address challenges that will encourage both sustainable growth and support economies and the wellbeing of our communities both today and tomorrow. By talking in this common language individuals, companies and governments can combine together to improve the sustainability of our homes, businesses and the planet. Companies are creating exponential value by expanding into new markets and jurisdictions. But being a future leader with a global mindset is about more, it is about championing sustainability today and for our future. What is sustainability and why does it matter to business?