How Can Companies Contribute to Sustainability?By Manuel Macedo | Wed, 10/27/2021 - 09:04
As we focus on the economic recovery from COVID-19, we have another global issue that is of the highest priority: climate change, the effects of which could transform the way we live and develop as humanity.
In the last general assembly of the United Nations (UN), Secretary-General António Guterres expressed it frankly: “We need a 45 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, so that we can achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. One of the top challenges of our time is mitigating the effects of climate change.
Although the world has gained awareness on this subject and taken very important steps in recent years, for example by setting carbon neutral targets, it is still necessary for industries and business leaders to further increase their efforts and create solutions for more sustainable processes. All stakeholders must align with reducing CO2 emissions. Facing this “environmental challenge” is a joint effort that involves government, companies and civil society.
The good news is that globally there is an increasing sensitivity to this. Proof of this is that the total value of sustainable investment assets around the world reached around US$35 billion just last year, which illustrates the importance that countries are placing on this issue; however, there is still much to do.
I would like to reflect on six recommendations, which, from my perspective, can accelerate and strengthen our contribution toward sustainability in the face of climate change from a corporate standpoint:
1. Join global commitments
Carbon neutrality is one of the most important strategies to achieve a more sustainable world and, therefore, it is one of the priorities promoted by the UN, which has involved countries that emit more than 65 percent of greenhouse gases, representing more than 70 percent of the global economy, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
In the case of Honeywell, in addition to committing to achieving this by 2035, we allocate 50 percent of our research and development budget to the creation of technologies that have a positive impact on the environment.
It is essential to also be part of global initiatives because it allows us to add our efforts to a common cause, creating a stronger impact by uniting our endeavors.
2. Align business strategies with sustainable goals
As leaders, we must ensure that our business strategies and sustainability goals are fully aligned. Our perspective must be holistic and not as two separate or conflicting areas. This alignment makes the difference if we want to demonstrate a real commitment to take sustainability to the highest level of relevance within the company.
The impact of this decision is also critical for the workforce because when they realize that sustainability is fully integrated into the business strategy, their commitment to this common effort becomes stronger.
3. Measurement end to end
It is key that once we have outlined objectives, we begin to monitor fulfillment by generating reports that provide updates of our progress to our stakeholders. Besides transparency, this is evidence that our companies’ commitment is solid.
In addition, a close monitoring system will allow us to advance or change direction in our objectives, if and when necessary.
4. Technology allied to sustainability
Companies invest in innovation to increase their competitiveness. In the same way, we should ensure resource allocation into technology creation that will offer solutions to fixing sustainability problems.
For example, at Honeywell, we offer solutions for different industries and in each of them we are aligning ourselves to meet a sustainability objective. In the case of the oil and gas industry, we are developing technology to convert vegetable oils and inedible animal fats into renewable fuel; in the aeronautical sector, we are working on energy sources for hybrid electric aircraft engines; regarding buildings, we are creating a software suite to enable efficient use of resources in real estate.
In other words, we are making the necessary adjustments across all our business units to meet the needs of the market, as well as our sustainability goals.
5. Build community
In each region where we establish an operation, we should make sure we give back to the community. It is crucial to be up front and align our programs to work with our employees, vendors, customers and communities on climate change issues.
6. Small actions count too
Finally, from within companies, adjustments can be made to contribute to a more sustainable world, from adopting technology for the smarter use of energy and water to creating a culture of saving resources, such as decreasing paper consumption.
To tackle current and future environmental challenges, we must begin incorporating sustainable practices that become part of our business processes and strategies. Only by creating this continued effort will we be able to achieve sustainability in the long term.
Betting on sustainability is no longer an option; there are scenarios that require an effort to provide increasingly comprehensive and visible solutions. Companies, society and government through technology enablement are the key allies to face the current challenges.