A Sustainable digital future respecting society and our planet

Kaoru Inoue
Director at GeSI Brussels

How do you see the impact of digitalization in European businesses in a post-pandemic world? How can they navigate the crucial link between technological development, energy and sustainability?

The digital sector is trying to figure out and map out their larger ecosystem, questioning how robust our digital infrastructures are to respond to the shocks that come with a post-pandemic world.

Last summer, we hosted a webinar that looked at digital infrastructure resilience amidst rising temperatures against the backdrop of the IPCC AR6 publication. We had speakers from the European Commission, the UK Met Office, and a Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) Member Company presenting how their technologies supported natural disaster recovery efforts in lighting speed. For GeSI, we hope to prepare our companies for a post-pandemic world by encouraging them to address some of the most pressing environmental and societal challenges and find the link between purpose and digital.

For the link between those areas, it should be standard practice to track commitments and report actions; with organizations like CDP and SBTi, companies should prove to stakeholders that they are sustainable, future-oriented companies doing their part.

How is GeSI managing the tremendous challenge of its members and partners phase for creating an ESG culture limitation, and of course, the need to measure the results and communicate them transparently to society?

ESG has been popping up more in the last few years, and those are the questions that we have been asking our members: “how can they step up in terms of ESG?”. Regarding what GeSI is doing, we have our project called Digital with Purpose Movement. The main question that we want to explore is: “how can digital technology enable the achievement of the goals, and in what ways can they move the vision of the SDGs forward?” We built a Framework for the Movement that helps companies address key ESG metrics among others. The Movement is an inclusive, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder initiative towards purpose-led, digitally-enabled growth in the ICT sector.

What do you see regarding evolution concerning the SDGs, mainly SDG, seven, affordable and clean energy, and SDG 13 Climate Action? Which will be the main challenges and opportunities here?

So the evolution of this climate conversation is that it is no longer just about climate mitigation and adaptation in the digital realm. It’s now about sustainable development and ESG for many sectors. So having that long term vision, zooming into why your company exists and how it is built to last using the most advanced technologies available is what we strive for and want companies to consider strongly.

Regarding sustainable energy, the energy sector is steadily crossing paths with organizations like ours and joining this green tech conversation. But unfortunately, I am seeing that there continues to be a disconnect between climate and technology. Having CEOs make concrete and public declarations is one step in which technology can empower people to work towards climate action. The next step is about knowing the proper methodology and tools to implement, and this is when GeSI and organizations like GeSI come in.

Could you tell us more about your work in the Middle East and Africa region, if you have any, or if you’re planning to expand in this direction?

We have big plans to ensure that our message of Digital with Purpose is spread across different regions and cultures, mainly because the SDGs are a global standard. We’re hoping that because the SDGs work across so many key areas, it is, therefore, a ‘language’ we all speak. Especially now, with digitalization touching everyone’s lives, even more so during this pandemic, the opportunities are exciting and motivating… So I’m ready to make that commitment and challenge myself, my team, and our Members to answer the often uncomfortable, challenging questions.