HOME / The future of sustainability: CSR in the age of technology, part 1

The future of sustainability: CSR in the age of technology, part 1

In 2012, I was lucky enough to accompany Robert Swan to Antarctica – the windiest, driest and coldest place on earth – as part of the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE). We were 72 people from diverse fields and dozens of different countries. The purpose was to witness first-hand the impact of human actions on the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica.

The barrenness of landscape and severity of the weather contrasted with the liveliness of the penguins and seals. I was awestruck. It made me consider the importance of our own actions in safeguarding the fragile world that we inhabit.

When I look at our lives, I am amazed at how much the world has changed in the last decade or so. We work faster, travel faster, shop faster, communicate faster, design faster, build and farm faster. What is enabling this new normal is information technology, and it is here to stay.

Rapidly growing interconnectivity and the Internet of Things is creating a world which is more ‘connected’ than ever before. Real-time, mobility, ease, speed and efficiency are some of the words that define our existence. The question is whether the growth and use of information technology continue to improve the lives of people and the planet. In short, how can it help us create a more sustainable present and future? How can this hyper-connectivity improve the life chances of the most vulnerable, whilst balancing the interest of people, planet, and profit?

This may look overwhelming and can lead to action paralysis. But seen from another perspective, it is an unprecedented opportunity to create a better world.

Sustainable development is no longer just ‘a nice thing to talk about’. It is what will ensure the well-being of the future generation. 2015 was a great year for sustainability. It witnessed two landmark global agreements – firstly the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and secondly the adoption of the Paris Agreement for climate action.

It is interesting to note that the business sector was at the forefront of the deliberations on both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and significantly influenced the two.  It is not surprising that when the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the Global Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016, he called on the business community to help achieve the SDGs and use its enormous power to create decent jobs, enhance access to education, unlock energy solutions and end discrimination.

How the world of business can work to deliver on these goals is a major challenge, and one that I will address in the second part of my blog. Keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks.

How do you see communications technology shaping sustainability actions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Supriya Singh

Supriya Singh

Supriya Singh is Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at Tata Communications. She leads CSR’s education, healthcare and communications portfolios. She has spent more than a decade in the development sector, working with children and youth on sustainability, citizenship and leadership.
9 comments
  1. Supriya is the best of the best . She came with us in 2012 but has been helping and supporting the mission of sustainability ever since .. Her work with Tata is now so important . Good Luck Supriya Robert Swan facebook Robert Swan and 2041 . http://www.2041.com

  2. Santosh

    Excellent article ! Keep it up.

  3. New, and as you described faster communication technology could be a supporting tool for sustainability actions. It could offer a wider spread of technology, could link producers with consumers to discuss sustainability issues.It could help, used in a democratic way, to understand different culture perspectives and struggle against misunderstanding. But on the other hand these technologies are steeling a lot of time for personal, face to face commutation and direct experiences in nature and culture. We must have a discussion and a movement to open the space for personality. Education is key area to help people the best way to use ICT, not replace personal experiences by “conserved” experiences of other people and except them as only reality!

  4. Lalit

    Great one Supriya!

  5. Ramneek

    It was a great learning experience working with this young girl whose maturity is much beyond her years! A great read Supriya…waiting eagerly for the second part…
    I had once read a quote- when winds of change blow, some build walls while others build wind mills…. Your article reminds me once again of the fact that instead of complaining about the ill-effects of this fast paced technology rid world, let’s be wiser to tap its potential to build a better world for all life forms!

  6. Nice article Supriya. Keep up the good work. You make us proud.

  7. Sonu Purohit

    Excellent article Supriya.

  8. Talha khan

    Wow! Supriya, I am just wondering what an experience it must have been.

    A very thoughtful post, indeed. Our future relies on the actions we do now and its time to redefine them. We can always start from ourselves by making even the smallest of changes and then expand the idea further.

  9. Talha khan

    Wow supriya! Must have been a great experience.

    A very thoughtful article. It really made me ponder and introspect. Lets begin the transformation from ourselves first. Even the smallest of change counts, after all onus of saving this blue planet is on all of us, but few (people like you) take that extra mile to make the impact. Great!!