Climate Resiliency Through Technology: Data and Reporting

25 August, 2023

Doomsday Knocking - Floods, Landslides, Heatwaves, Fires.
As we move from the era of global warming to “global boiling” (as termed by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres) climate extremities have become more frequent and violent.

Climate extremities pose an existential threat on all levels - from daily routines to quarterly forecasts, from top-line revenues to bottom-line operations, their repercussions touch every aspect of our personal and professional lives. These extremities are often unavoidable. But companies and communities can do more to become resilient and prepare to deal with the impact.

Understanding Resilience in Business -
Resilience in a business setting refers to its ability to respond and adapt to disruptions. Being able to either carry on business as usual in the face of calamities or get back up to maintain the status quo. Failing to develop resilience can result in losses and damages. For example, according to SBI Ecowrap, the economic loss due to recent floods in North India and the Biparjoy Cyclone in Gujrat is estimated to be up to ₹15,000 crore. Additionally, according to the same report, the global estimated financial losses in 2022 caused by natural disasters are estimated to be $275 billion, for context, this number is higher than the GDP of 150+ nations.

Immediate threats such as flooding, drought, heat waves and other natural disasters cause physical damage to people, property and critical infrastructure. Better resilience can help companies mitigate these damages and save lives.

Resilience can be built on two primary fronts - the workforce and the supporting technical infrastructure. The technical infrastructure is perhaps the fastest to implement and the biggest on ROI. Let’s have a look at the most effective technologies that could be leveraged to achieve resilience.

Leveraging Innovation and Technology -

  • Data automation - Automating data collection can help companies create a more extensive data repository and improve the speed of drawing insightful analytics resulting in better informed and faster decision-making. Other benefits include cost reduction, increased productivity and reliability.

  • AI - Patterns derived from pertinent data can pinpoint issues and possibilities that might escape human observation. Applications can include recognizing warning signs, the autonomous implementation of responsive systems, and the administration of renewable energy remedies.

  • IoT - Data communication networks can amplify the data gathering from current sensors and devices linked to the cloud. These devices possess the potential to enhance the procedures of climate modeling, thereby generating more precise strategies for bolstering climate resilience.

For example, researchers from the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University have created models using big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to help communities prepare for future natural disasters, assess the impacts and monitor the recovery in near real-time. They used data from Harvey to test these AI-centric solutions.

Let’s have a look at how these tools can also be employed to build supply chain resiliency.

  • Supply Chain Visibility

With thousands of suppliers across the globe forming the foundation of their business operations and manufacturing, enterprises often find themselves exposed to higher risks of business disruptions. Easy-to-deploy technology solutions can help enterprises solve this situation.

Technologies like cloud computing, data automation, AI, and IoT can equip companies with supply chain resiliency - both upstream and downstream - through informed decision-making. For example, supply chain visibility can allow leaders to manage logistics and re-route their shipments away from the local disaster struck areas in real-time, and know where their relief packages and help should be targeted towards. It can also help enterprises predict and estimate the raw material shortage in case of unforeseen calamities.

  • Empowering Employees and Stakeholders

Employees and other key stakeholders take the biggest hits during climate and economic disruptions. Hence, companies must plan and prioritize their well-being. This can be achieved through preparations of emergency contingency plans, periodic engagement activities, improving compliance with safety regulations, and increasing efforts towards mitigating their footprint on the local ecosystem.

For example, In 2012, OpenDRI trained more than 1,500 people to map the Kathmandu Valley through OpenStreetMap (OSM) to document health and education facilities in Nepal, which led to the startup, Kathmandu Living Labs. The team served as a critical resource during the 2015 earthquake response, making the humanitarian and rescue operations much faster.

Data and Reporting
Data has and continues to play a vital role in human endeavors against climate change. While the data has helped us understand our impact on a global scale, it can also help us guard against local natural disasters.

ESG risk management can enable predictability and data-driven decisions laying the foundation for enterprise resilience. The ability to assess and forecast risks and prepare, can prevent loss of lives and reduce operational costs during extreme weather events. ESG reporting standards and frameworks have already started including climate risk assessment and mitigation strategies.

SaaS reporting platforms such as Treeni’s resustain™ SMB can streamline the supply chain ESG risk management and help build resilience in the supply chain. By deploying the platform to supply chain partners, enterprises can empower them with insightful analytics, data automation, and data sourcing, enabling the identification and reporting of potential material issues and disruptions. The increased visibility can foster better resilience across the supply chain while improving sustainability compliance.

The climate is changing rapidly, oscillating between extremes with greater frequency. In this uncertain landscape, companies must invest in future technology to increase their efforts toward developing resilience. This requires a significant shift in how companies manage their strategy and resources for climate resilience and adaptation.

Though data equips us to deal with the climate extremities, an essential part of developing resilience is very human - our ingenuity. Our willingness to learn, adapt, and overcome adverse conditions by using our technology with proactive measures and a forward-thinking mindset.

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