DO WELL, DO GOOD
Michiel Boreel Expert in Residence
Boost the organization’s societal purposes by saying “Yes” to technology that boosts sustainability and say “No” to what is energy-wasting or non-essential.
"You can’t have it all. Not everything that is technologically possible is socially desirable. As tempting as Technology Business initiatives may seem, many of them demand a great deal of energy, time, and scarce, natural resources. Carefully choose less-demanding initiatives that hold sustainability at heart. Consider the Total Social Impact of initiatives and look for technology that actively benefits societal purpose. Make the world a better place and serve the wellbeing of every human being. Feels good doesn’t it."
Aim to satisfy as many technology needs from the organization as possible without consideration. Only consider the sustainability impact as an afterthought.
IT solutions are an exciting business change enabler, yet they can consume energy, natural resources, and increase CO2 emissions. Indeed, current estimates state that 3.7% of global CO2 emissions comes from IT. If IT industry were a country, it would be the third largest electricity consumer in the world. But sustainability is so much more than just ecological sustainability. The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the critical factors required for societal good: ending poverty deprivation, improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth – all while tackling climate change. IT has the potential to not only cut carbon emissions, it can also be purposeful and offer a positive societal benefit that serves the wellbeing of all stakeholders. Time to make a contribution: refrain from hording data, using damaging materials, child labor or adding to the plastic soup of the oceans. There is so much good IT can do if we do it well.
LIVE THE PRINCIPLE
- Understand your current landscape by assessing your current sustainability footprint. Check your as-is, include “built-in” CO2 emissions of assets, and consider what happens following their five or seven-year life span.
- Identify areas where IT can contribute, such as consolidating your application portfolio, or by using new technology to reduce environmental impact or provide a societal benefit.
- When designing, consider the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a Non-Functional Requirement. Always take environmental impact and societal good into account and balance it with availability, stability, cost, and quality.
- Build credibility by making IT sustainable, and questioning a design’s impact: “is this truly increasing sustainability?” “What actions can we take now, to improve sustainability in the future?”
- Say no to non-sustainable business ideas and technology. Teach colleagues to see the advantages of “yes” today versus “no” to avoid sustainability issues in the future.
- Become the guardian of people’s digital happiness and incorporate SDGs as Non-Functional Requirements throughout the organization.
- Launch a “retirement contest” for marginal or obsolete applications.
- Retrospectively and demonstratively apply Do Well, Do Good to your top three current developments.