First introduction to Sustainability
What’s behind sustainability?
The concept of sustainability, that emerged in the 80’s, refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability involves a balanced approach on three main and interconnected dimensions: the economy, the society and the environment.
We see that previous economic models have revealed their limitations and may threaten planet resiliency. Environmental phenomenon such as the scarcity of resources, the decrease of biodiversity and ecosystems damaging, the climate change linked to the GHG emissions and air pollutions, are the first coming to my mind and gradually rise social concerns on poverty, hunger, health and inequalities.
During the past decade, all the actors of the private and public spheres and the civil society have definitely recognized the urgent necessity to join forces to tackle climate change. So sustainability introduces the transition to economic models of responsible growth and companies like Atos and Worldline are taking actions.
What does it mean for companies?
Contributing to solve the complex equation of connecting companies’ economic performance and business successes with social and environmental progress is the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In other words, sustainability integrates a value of responsibility:
- The responsibility to make business in an ethical way by considering its own employee’s development and well-being, the impact of its activities on the environment while having a positive footprint in its local communities;
- The responsibility to go beyond regulations by being a “contributive” company not only limiting the negative impacts of its activities but implementing all the best CSR practices and actions to create sustainable value for its ecosystem and society at large;
- The responsibility to be a sustainable partner for 15 to 20 years to develop trust relationships with all its stakeholders including employees, customers, suppliers and investors
For us, this approach is based on an integrated CSR vision fully embedded in our corporate strategy and aligned to our business operations, a long-term ambition with commitments for progress in the long term monitored by key performance indicators and the implementation of pioneering and innovative approaches to accelerate progress.
I’m a strong believer that we can take care of each other and the planet through making positive changes in business and society.
What role does innovation play towards sustainability and CSR?
We recognize that innovation is a key lever for sustainability and conversely. As we enter a new maturity era for sustainability, the sustainable development, innovation capabilities are becoming critical and a key focus to transform business models into agile ones able to turn externalities into opportunities. In that context, doing better with less is the driver of innovation serving sustainability. This is also an evidence of efficiency and better economy.
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence for instance, the accumulated data on paper consumption and GHG emissions are all levers that make it possible to act more effectively and upstream to fight against climate change and limit environmental negative impact. From a social point of view, the HR data collected on recruitment, mobility, and career development also makes it possible to proactively manage the best profiles to be recruited and the development of employees. Regarding the economic sphere, innovative solutions enable customers to significantly improve their efficiency thanks to a reduction of the delays on the one hand and to a reduction of the consumption of resources on the other one.
To a larger extent, I’m wondering how innovation can leverage sustainability, which raises the question on:
- How can technologies boost circular economy (generate/collect, distribute and consume energy resources more smartly)?
- How can technologies leverage the use of renewables energies?
- How can technologies help creating a sustainable workplace environment and generate social wellbeing?
The Atos IT challenge
This is why “sustainability” is one of the topic tackled this year’s Atos IT Challenge and primarily we want to see an innovative idea brought to life that will respect this concept. In a second part, we will go deeper in the impact of innovation on sustainability and of sustainability on innovation.
More about the Atos IT Challenge competition and its 2019 edition >>