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How to make sustainable growth a reality
January 24, 2019
How to make sustainable growth a reality

In 2015, at a historic United Nations Summit, 193 countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed to a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. These goals urge all the participating countries to mobilize their efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Meeting these goals go hand-in-hand with strategies that create economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, and job opportunities. All this, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

 

When management consulting firm Bain & Company surveyed 297 global companies, 81% said that sustainability is more important to their business today than it was five years ago. 85%of them believed that it will be even more important in the next five years. Since, businesses will be unable to thrive in a world of poverty, inequality, and environmental strain, it is imperative to deliver on the 2030 agenda.

Additionally, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission estimates that meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals could generate $12 trillion in business savings and revenue. It would also create 380 million jobs by 2030. But how can companies drive sustainability through their businesses? Here are a few key ways in which companies can contribute towards a more sustainable future.

Harnessing technology

While technological innovations pose numerous challenges, they also possess the power to improve the livelihood of people around the world. Several companies today are using new-age tools like AI and IoT to monitor and optimise systems, thereby increasing operational efficiency. AI is now being used in the energy sector to predict energy consumption peaks and real-time optimization of operations settings. IoT sensors and machine learning are being used to grow crops vertically indoors using only light, water and nutrients; thereby reducing water consumption.

To illustrate with an example, manufacturing company Mahindra Farm Equipment is using Mitsubishi Electric’s Factory Automation technology to help them monitor and operate the whole shop-floor for better utilization of resources. This helps make manufacturing a lot more sustainable. So, it is time for companies to embrace technology and harness its benefits to revolutionise their businesses.

Sourcing renewable energy

Currently, more than 40% of the global population lacks access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking; and over 1 billion people (15% of the global population, mainly in rural communities), lack access to electricity. The share of renewable energy in overall energy consumption remains at around 18%. And, despite recent advances in solar and wind power, much of this is through hydroelectric power. Improving access, efficiency, and sustainability in energy supply around the world provides a significant market opportunity for business. Companies need to source energy from renewable sources, develop energy efficient products, increase energy efficiency, and promote it through their supply chain.

Mitsubishi Electric, for instance, is successfully working towards converting wind into power. When electricity is generated or transmitted, some loss always occurs; and the key to minimizing this loss is a power module. Mitsubishi Electric’s power semiconductors are tasked with both converting as much of the rotational energy of the massive wind turbine into electricity as possible, and then transmitting that electricity to the electrical grid with minimal loss. Through the development of highly advanced and compact power modules with low power consumption, Mitsubishi Electric contributes to not only lower power generation costs, but also improved energy conversion rates.

Water management solutions

Sustainable water management and water conservation is essential not just for well-being but also for economic productivity. Over two thirds of the world’s population is estimated to be living in water stressed areas in 2025; a problem climate change and population growth will only amplify. Plus, it is also important for businesses to use water resources efficiently. Almost 90% of water consumed in the world today is used for agricultural or industrial purposes, and over 80% of all jobs globally are dependent on sustainably managed water resources and related services.

Hence, companies should consider developing environmentally sustainable watersheds around the company and supply chain operations to monitor and minimise their water usage. From supplying citizens with purified drinking water sourced from a river to treating everyday wastewater for its environmentally safe return to the river, companies like Mitsubishi Electric Process Automation are monitoring and controlling the complexity of the flow of water around the clock.

It is time for businesses to embark on a journey towards pursuing sustainability and embrace the tools to achieve it. If companies hope to have a successful future, they need to find a way to place the needs of the planet at the core of their business strategy.

This is a partnered post.