Every organisation must have sustainability-focused approach, experts say

Creating a sustainable impact leads to long-term results and the growth of communities and business, experts said


Rohma Sadaqat

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Companies across the globe are making long-term commitments to fight climate change and protect public health - KT file
Companies across the globe are making long-term commitments to fight climate change and protect public health - KT file

Published: Thu 21 Apr 2022, 7:53 PM

A sustainability focused approach is the need of the hour for ever organisation across the world, experts said.

Speaking ahead of Earth Day, which is celebrated annually on April 22, and will this year be held under the theme ‘Invest In Our Planet’, experts also highlighted how a multi-stakeholder approach is what will drive long-lasting and sustainable change.

“We believe that sustainability should be everyone’s job and hardwired into every employee’s workplan,” said Deepa Vaidyanathan, senior director of Communications & Sustainability, Procter & Gamble, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa regions. “We have dedicated sustainability boards and action plans for each of our market operations and we embed environmental goals as part of our business priorities. Also, most importantly, our employees are committed to ensure that sustainability is built into their work, not bolted on.”

She also noted that, in order to make a true difference, long-term sustainability programmes that grow from strength to strength are critical to make an impact. “Short-term aid without plans to sustain it is a futile endeavour. Every organisation must look at the entire business model to assess the interventions that need to be made to reduce the impact on the environment and then make deliberate plans to execute as well as monitor.”

In addition, she also highlighted how employees need to be educated and made aware on climate change fundamentals including life cycle assessments that might uncover new data and information that informs long-term and positive impact in the environment

“The truth is, we, as organisations with a voice, can impact society by creating powerful partnerships that enable people, the planet, and our businesses to thrive,” she pointed out. “But, it is important for organisations to tap into their greatest resource, their employees, so that they are engaged and equipped to build sustainability into their daily work and communities.”

Last year, P&G committed to actively protecting nature, beginning with 12 pilot programmes in 12 months across the Asia Pacific Middle East & Africa region to start its ‘Forests for Good’ initiative, by planting trees that help improve local ecosystems. The first forestation programme - The P&G Dubai Mangrove Forest - was launched last year, in the UAE in the Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary. By piloting blockchain technology that increases traceability & transparency, the aim of the programme is to better connect consumers with the impact they are having. More recently, the company also committed to planting an additional 26 forestation programmes across the UAE before the end of the year, in collaboration with Carrefour.

A holistic approach

Natalja Kissina, HR VP and Sustainability Leader for Gulf Countries at Schneider Electric, says that sustainability must be approached holistically to be effective. “What matters most is how companies organise their core business. Do they demand that suppliers take a socially responsible approach to doing business? Are their material flows based on a cycle, do they minimise the use of energy, and use energy from renewable sources wherever possible? And, above all, are the products themselves sustainable? By casting a wide net, we can influence changes in our products, our people policies, our operations, our supply chain, and our clients.”

“In a nutshell, a sustainability-focused approach is not a nice to have, it is a business and social responsibility imperative requiring every single one of us to make informed decisions for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of meeting the needs of the future generations,” she said. And as one of the world’s most sustainable companies, Schneider Electric is certainly leading the way in this regard.

She also highlighted how the 2021–2025 Schneider Sustainability Impact (SSI) programme includes 11 global targets for transformational initiatives and over 200 goals set at the country level. “We understand that sustainability challenges differ locally; all these targets help ensure we deliver meaningful impact across our six long-term commitments: Climate, Resources, Trust, Equal, Generations, and Local.”

She noted that companies are starting to integrate how they use and buy energy with sustainability initiatives to see increased efficiency and financial savings. This is where Schneider Electric’s newly launched Gulf-wide sustainability consultancy services come in. “We come in, assess your business needs, and provide top solutions and technologies to boost your sustainability star status and help lower your carbon footprint as well.”

Schneider Electric also has an active Gulf Sustainability Team, which was awarded ‘Sustainability Team of the Year’ last year. This team’s primary goal is to reduce the carbon footprint. “To this end, we recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art solar rooftop in our massive Regional Distribution Centre in Dubai, eliminated single use plastic in our offices, and implemented sustainable water dispensing solutions in selected offices across the Gulf region,” Kissina said.

Looking ahead, she said that organising awareness and training programmes for employees and managers with a focus on the practical applications of ecological protection and questions concerning environmental responsibility is a must. “In addition, regular refresher courses should be conducted on environmental management that enable participants to share ideas and experiences. It is also imperative to promote hybrid ways of working to eliminate the impact on the environment. Building organisational-wide engagement into specific actions related to wider community outreach and positive impact is also key.”

Technology to the rescue

Rami Kichli, SVP for the Middle East and Turkey at Software AG, says that technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ not only to transform businesses, but to manage climate change as well, especially as the negative impacts become more obvious and ominous.

“Technology stands to be a significant enabling mechanism that is transforming several aspects of our daily lives,” he said. “Speaking of sustainability, technology has and will continue to play a pivotal role for the greater tomorrow. It may or may not be the solution to everything, but it certainly has the power to increase productivity, efficiency, cost savings, reduce waste & resources – all of which help minimise the impact on the environment.”

“Think of the world of the Internet of Things or IoT for example, IoT decouples the physical from the virtual world, connects different objects and adds sensors thereby increasing the level of digital intelligence, and avoiding any physical presence – resulting in immense impact on the world’s carbon footprint,” he explained.

Another great example, he said, is the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which was powered by Software AG, and connected Dubai-wide government entities and private sector systems so that no paper was to be used in government interactions, creating a 100 per cent paperless environment. This initiative enabled the city to become the world’s first paperless government saving over 336 million papers with 45 government entities in Dubai cutting paper and saving more than Dh1.3 billion in related costs and over 14 million man-hours.

Software AG also recently signed the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the world's largest initiative for responsible and sustainable corporate governance. “Under this, we are aligning our corporate transformation strategy, named Helix, closely with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in the future. Software AG remains committed to supporting and complying with sustainable business practices, in line with the UNGC’s 10 principles.

Additionally, we also support and sponsoring the first ever Electric Racing Academy (ERA) in the world that aims to bring about a positive and sustainable change in motor racing with its opening series scheduled in Summer 2022,” Kichli said.

“As a technology company, we will continue to offer innovative solutions to ensure that our planet can thrive for generations to come,” he added. “While solving the industrial impact on the environment might still be long journey, it is sure to happen and it will surely be done and technology is undoubtedly part of the journey and solution. Our ambition is to play a leading role in the global search for technological solutions to the most pressing social and environmental challenges, and to support its customers and partners in their sustainability efforts.”


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