In the first of this two-part blog series, we discussed why corporate sustainability is gaining momentum and explored the benefits and challenges it brings to business.

Let’s dive into some practical tips on how to facilitate sustainability transformation within your organization:

1. Analyse your current situation with a future-oriented approach

To start the ball rolling, evaluating where you are regarding sustainability and ESG practices is crucial. Take a look at what is working well and identify areas that need improvement. This analysis can help you answer important questions like: How can we comply with the regulations and reporting requirements? What is our vision? What do we need to do to reach this goal? This is where the sustainability strategy comes into play.

2. Define a well-crafted strategy

Knowing where you are and where you want to be is one thing, but getting there requires a well-defined strategy and clear metrics to track progress toward your targets. Various sustainability frameworks are available, each with nuances and differences. Tailor your strategy by selecting a framework that aligns with your industry, market, and specific needs. Additionally, don't forget to incorporate sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) and indicators into your employees' remuneration packages. This step will help endorse and drive sustainability adoption across your entire organization.

3. Implementing sustainability across departments

Now that you have your strategy in place, it’s time to implement sustainability initiatives and determine what it means for each department. What does it mean for the supply chain? For production? For marketing and HR? What does it mean for data technology, etc? This stage is remarkably interesting because this is where the actions and innovations will happen.
However, it’s crucial not to underestimate the implementation stage. Dedicate enough time to manage the transition and ensure continuous support through effective communication channels.

4. Develop capabilities to support your sustainability strategy

Organisations should rely on data and AI as critical enablers to effectively support their sustainability goals.

Data is important in driving a sustainability strategy because you can’t manage what you can’t measure. A good approach to structure emissions data is the greenhouse gas protocol concept, which defines different emissions into three scopes:

  1. Scope one refers to the current emissions from your operations.
  2. Scope 2 is the energy you consume.
  3. Scope 3 encompasses all emissions within your value chain.

By adopting this framework, organizations can create an interconnected ecosystem that encourages organizations to look at their whole value chain and collect data. Therefore, accumulating data is a pivotal step.

Once the data is harvested and future targets are set, use software tools and consulting support to access the expertise and capabilities that will guide you throughout the journey. AI can bridge the gap between your current situation and your desired sustainability goals. Digital twin technology, for instance, can help evaluate scenarios, assess the impact of specific initiatives or changes, and optimize operations. Scenario analysis lets you measure the potential societal impacts of decisions before regulations are established.

Moreover, AI and machine learning can be utilized to solve optimization problems. For example, historical data can be leveraged to forecast hazards like water leakage or detect water-related issues. Consequently, data, AI and machine learning play significant roles in providing a solid foundation for your sustainability strategy, helping you achieve your sustainability goals.

By embracing data and AI as powerful tools, companies can facilitate sustainability transformation and embed it deeply into their business models. With a clear strategy and the right capabilities, organizations can make a meaningful and lasting impact on the environment while driving positive change within their industries.

Curious to dive deeper into the world of sustainability? Watch the on-demand webinar Planet, People and Profit: The Role of Data and AI to Drive Sustainability to explore implementing a sustainability strategy that will help improve the bottom line with a competitive advantage, cost reduction, and increased profitability.


About Author

Brecht Seifi

Analytics Advisor | EU Technical Account Manager at SAS

Brecht Seifi started his career in analytics consulting where he combined his passion for leveraging data with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to improve the technological & sustainability capabilities of large public sector organizations. Today, Brecht supports the European Union’s public sector with solutions for sustainability at the European Commission that leverage SAS technology. He holds a Master in Economics and is passionate about driving effective public policy to put Europe first in technologically enabled sustainability governance.

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