Sustainable IT: Why the Time is Now!

The growing importance of sustainability has become a top priority for businesses across various industries. And as companies strive to minimize their impact on the environment, the IT sector is taking center stage in the pursuit of sustainability. While there are several reasons to focus on sustainability, many organizations are realizing that implementing a sustainable IT strategy not only helps mitigate risks but can also bring long-term value and help prepare them for future challenges. 

These were the main topics discussed at the recent webinar organized by Evernex with the title “Sustainable IT: Why the time is now!”, with three experts contributing on the subject. The moderator was Mark Havens, Evernex Managing director, North America, and the two guest speakers were Sophia Walwyn-James, ESG & Sustainability Director at 3i and Florian Doussot, OSCAR and circular economy expert for Orange. 

As the experts explained, the business case for sustainability is compelling, and it can drive both top-line growth and operational efficiencies. This point is illustrated by “The 10 R’s, as outlined in the book 'Thriving: The Breakthrough Movement to Regenerate Nature, Society, and the Economy’. These 10 R-words highlight the reasons why companies should focus on sustainability. They include reputation management, increased revenues, improved resource efficiency, fostering research and development, aligning with a reason for being, enhancing recruitment and retention efforts, building resilience, managing risks, complying with regulations, and generating returns. A sustainable IT strategy can deliver on all these fronts, creating a positive impact on the business. 

During the webinar it was also pointed out that the growing importance of sustainability was also clear in light of a recent study conducted by McKinsey. This study revealed that products making environmental, social, and governance (ESG) claims experienced higher average growth than those that made no such claims. Over a five-year period, products with ESG-related claims achieved an average cumulative growth of 28%, compared to 20% for products without such claims. This study demonstrates the significant implications for companies, particularly in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) sector, looking to implement ESG strategies and commitments. Consumers are increasingly aligning their purchasing decisions with their values, and companies that offer environmentally and socially responsible products are reaping the benefits. 

The rising tide of regulations is another factor driving the need for sustainable IT strategies. A study by the London School of Economics shows that nations around the world have adopted more than 1,200 laws to curb climate change, up from about 60 two decades ago. Additionally, European regulations like the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Corporate Sustainability Disclosure Directive (CSDDD) will have a global impact, affecting companies from all over the world. 

Further, the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulation in the UK is compelling companies to disclose their energy use and carbon emissions. The IT sector, which is projected to account for 16% of global emissions by 2040, cannot afford to ignore these regulations. 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that around 45% of global emissions come from the production of goods, meaning that the circular economy has a huge role to play in meeting sustainability targets. For this reason, services related to reuse, repair, refurbishment, and maintenance will have to grow significantly, particularly in regards to the IT industry, where the norm is to constantly upgrade infrastructure to meet the latest needs, with, until now, not much of an incentive to make the most of what organizations already have. 

The webinar speakers emphasized the importance of boosting practices that contribute to the circular economy, in particular extending the life of IT assets through practices like repair, refurbishment and recycling. 

The webinar also included advice for companies interested in starting or moving forward with a sustainability strategy, such as that getting started is more important than waiting until every element in the strategy is perfectly in place—an idea summed up with the proverb the perfect is the enemy of the good. It’s also important for companies to keep in mind that although there might be initial costs, there are also great savings to be achieved through a sustainability strategy, in the form of energy savings, deferred CapEx, and more. Finally, organizations that are hesitant to take the first step should consider that being proactive in regards to sustainability is strategically preferable to waiting until new regulations force your hand, which could cause businesses to have to scramble and act without the benefit of a well-considered plan. 

In conclusion, the webinar made it clear that by incorporating sustainability into your IT strategy, organizations can drive positive change while simultaneously enhancing their bottom line, as sustainable IT practices not only contribute to environmental preservation but also lead to cost savings, improved operational efficiency, and increased competitiveness in the market. 

All the participants agreed that the time is now for businesses to embrace sustainable IT practices. The growing importance of sustainability, coupled with the business benefits it offers, makes it a strategic imperative. By adopting best practices, overcoming challenges, and leveraging opportunities, organizations can embark on a sustainable IT journey that not only contributes to a greener future but also positions them for long-term success in a rapidly changing business landscape. The future of IT is sustainable, and it’s up to businesses to seize the opportunity and make a positive impact. 

To find out more, we encourage you to watch a recording of the webinar at this link. 

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