AVEVA recently convened leaders from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Schneider Electric, PETRONAS and Verdantix in a virtual press panel session to discuss how digitization is driving the sustainability business agenda for industrial organizations. The key takeaway was that 2021 is set to be a year of resiliency and renewed rebuilding, and Industry 4.0 will enable employees and communities to optimize sustainable processes to reduce carbon footprints.
Industrial Organizations – Proactively Aligning to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Session moderator Robert Opp, chief digital officer at the UNDP, outlined the importance of organizations setting clear objectives for leveraging new technologies to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The convergence of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and big data and analytics, is disrupting and creating opportunities across every industry. Opp highlighted how technological progress is key to finding lasting solutions to both economic and environmental challenges, from creating new employment opportunities to promoting energy efficiency.
“Promoting sustainable industries, and investing in scientific research and innovation, are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development,” said Opp. “Over the last few years there has been a major shift toward sustainability, and our mission at the UNDP is actively championed by technology organizations that recognize the urgency to prioritize sustainable practices, and also measure the multi-faceted benefits that reducing a company’s carbon footprint and being more efficient through technology affords.”
Industrial Technology Providers – At the Forefront of the Race to Become More Sustainable
AVEVA’s software has been driving sustainable outcomes for years and, while still at the beginning of its environmental journey, it has long aligned its business to the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals.
“We have also partnered with the United Nations Global Compact Network, alongside companies like Microsoft, a voluntary platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible business practices. The digitalization of traditional manufacturing businesses has increased the frequency of software solutions that not only increase ROI, but also streamlines business models, in order to start to “frame” environmental plans. By providing customers with real-time data and supporting improved operational efficiency, this has the potential to help thousands of customers – some of whom have very sizeable carbon footprints – to significantly cut their energy consumption and emissions,” commented Craig Hayman, CEO, AVEVA.
Financial Leaders See Sustainability as a Vital Component of Businesses Today
David Metcalfe, CEO of Verdantix, an independent research and advisory firm with expertise in digital strategies for Environment, Health & Safety, ESG & Sustainability, Operational Excellence and Smart Buildings focused on the impact of sustainability on financial leaders. Metcalfe highlighted how today’s challenging environment for businesses has impacted on how they are approaching and prioritizing sustainability, noting how this has shifted to equal importance as other business focused initiatives. “If we compare what happened during the financial crisis in 2008, where climate change and sustainability were pushed very far down in the agenda, it’s amazing just how rapidly these topics have risen back up the agenda in just a matter of months,” Metcalfe commented. “This is the difference between the “passive” sustainability of yesterday compared to the shift in thinking that has occurred more recently.”
Net Zero Carbon Emissions is the Goal for the Way Forward
Prakash Kumar Karunakaran, head of NervCentre, PETRONAS, indicated how the company has reaffirmed its sustainability proposition by defining a new Statement of Purpose which defines PETRONAS as “A progressive energy and solutions partner, enriching lives for a sustainable future.” He said, “This Statement of Purpose really galvanized the company, and provided clarity as to the company’s position on sustainability. Last year, this direction was given a significant boost when PETRONAS set an ambitious target of Net Zero Carbon Emissions (or NZCE) by the year 2050. This demanding target requires a radical rethinking of engineering to ensure both our current and future facilities are able to deliver on the target of NZCE.”
A principled approach to business and profits must go hand in hand with an organization’s sustainability journey. The very essence of a sustainable future for the industrial sector lies in embracing common objectives such as those outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and using a public-private sector collaborative approach to drive and create new opportunities for a greener world today.
Adopting a universal approach to drive sustainable outcomes will enable the industrial sector to develop sustainability goals in line with other sectors, including on carbon neutrality. AVEVA is proud to be working with its customers, alliances and other partners like Microsoft, to embrace the digital tools that will allow it to manage and measure its footprint. AVEVA is focused on where its contribution can be greatest – affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities and clean water and sanitation.