November 03, 2017 Views : 1220Comments : 8
The 2050 global population forecast does not look too rosy for sustainability professionals. Slated to cross the nine billion mark by 2050, the prediction serves as a subtle reminder of how fast resources will be depleted in the coming years. It’s evident that our incessant demand for energy, resources, and life-enhancing technologies has created a paradoxical effect. While it has driven economic growth on one hand, it has also plundered our planet’s hydrocarbon oils, coal and gas and in turn, caused catastrophic climate changes.
Although some companies are unaware of the negative impact that their operations have on the environment and are yet to figure out a plan to tackle systemic sustainability challenges, there are others that are working within the realms of ethical and social responsibility. These organizations are creating value that primarily accrues to society. For instance, in Germany some notable energy companies are opening renewable energy divisions to further green initiatives in Essen.
In the American context as well, there is a general lack of interest toward implementing eco-friendly corporate strategies barring a few exceptions. This small percentage of companies can be categorized as top-tier performers across a range of areas like supply chain management and carbon emissions reduction.
Research also reveals that companies with strong accountability systems, strategic board oversight, clear human rights, transparent environmental management policies, and active & effective stakeholder engagement stand a good chance of achieving sustainability. In fact, the results are bound to be favorable for these companies, across various parameters including renewable energy usage, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and application of sustainability practices for product and service delivery.
The world has now reached a point where all its stakeholders need to collectively attempt to save the earth. The UN has laid out a framework for sustainable development goals (SDGs), which has influenced many countries to introduce policies for developing and implementing sustainable technology. It has thus become inevitable for MNCs to embrace eco-friendly processes, develop eco-friendly products, and take quick steps to create a sustainable world.
Technological innovation is the key to achieving SDGs. Over the past decade, sustainable technological advancements across sectors like health, environment and education have yielded unprecedented results. For example, vaccines have saved nearly three million people each year and online courses have redefined the art of learning and become a media of mass education and awareness.
The top 10 promising technologies identified by the World Economic Forum are based on environmental and social policies that mandate energy-efficient water purification, enhanced nutrition at the molecular level, conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, efficient and precise drug delivery through nanoscale engineering, and the use of organic electronics and photovoltaics.
As more companies start recognizing the importance of technologies that use renewable energy, interest toward embracing environmentally sustainable practices is likely to gain steam. The last five years have witnessed a steep rise in patents across key areas like climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs) such as biofuels, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, and wind energy. The spike in patent applications indicates generous investment in research and development, and is a direct result of breakthroughs in sustainable technologies.
With several industry leaders coming to the fore—voicing their acceptance of sustainable development goals, it seems that the wave of environment-friendly technology innovation has finally hit the world. At least, successive improvements in resource productivity in sectors across energy, land, water and materials hint at that possibility. Evidence suggests that the efficient and adequate implementation of current innovative technologies can potentially save economies $900 billion to $1.6 trillion in 2035 and boost energy productivity by 40 to 70 percent in the same year.
Technology is indeed a catalyst for change. Breakthroughs in technology represent the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to creating solutions for a sustainable world. Take for instance, zero-emission vehicles that run on hydrogen. Unlike regular vehicles, hydrogen-fueled cars release water vapor as waste. The use of thermoset plastics that can be recycled is now on the rise due to its potential to remarkably cut down landfill waste.
In medicine, 3D printing has found encouraging reception. Human cells are being printed for use in drug screening tests, tissue repair, and even for organ transplantation. Bioprinting is now seen as a promising solution for the future of medicine.
These scenarios reinforce the notion that the technological system will play a critical role in building a sustainable future. Coupled with this, the adoption of sustainable development policies and business ideas will catapult nations both socially and economically.
Sustainability may have different meanings to different people, but ultimately it boils down to this: "SAVING PLANET EARTH FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS."
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