Leveraging Technology to Improve ESG Data and Reporting
Authored by Akshay Kurian, Product lead, Sustainable Innovation, Treeni

22 June, 2023

In its effort to cement its position as a world leader, India is focused on consolidating its sustainability efforts and achieving goals. The recently held 3rd ESG & Sustainability Strategy India Summit 2023 saw the industry and Treeni come together in an effort to discuss all crucial aspects around ESG and exchange thought leadership.
This blog is a summary of my talk at the conference on what we would like to share with Indian enterprises.

The Importance of Data in Understanding Climate Change
The study of climate change comes with its own complexities and uncertainties. It is important to understand the occurrences of the past to predict the future. Climatologists and scientists use various measurements related to the earth's existence to study the changing temperatures, impact on glaciers, and other vital signals the Earth is providing us.

From discovering data dating back 66 million years to predicting the impact of current rising temperatures in the fight towards managing climate change, data has been an important tool that is being used to:

●  Understand the current emissions threshold of the planet and how quickly the Earth recovers from extreme temperatures
●  Build climate models that address uncertainties for different hypotheses
●  Collate findings from multiple domains and subjects, and
●  Develop key technologies

With more data, it will now be possible to identify regional intricacies. This is fundamental to testing the reliability of climate models for the future.

The Bigger Picture
From an enterprise perspective E, S and G data help us figure out a complex set of goals and challenges such as :

●  Organizational efficiency
●  Decisions of stakeholders like regulators, investors, suppliers, customers, employees and the community at large
●  Sustainability aspects like atmospheric GHG, sea levels, biodiversity, etc.
●  Financial and political stability

Source: Treeni Sustainability Solution

Technology to the Rescue for ESG and Sustainability
Here is how Technology can be leveraged in various ways to help organizational efforts in achieving sustainability and ESG goals effectively:

●   Circular Business models via Innovations in plastic waste recycling: With innovations like advanced sorting and separation technologies and chemical recycling processes, businesses can establish closed-loop systems where plastic waste is continuously recycled
●  Improving logistical efficiency with AI: AI algorithms and GPS tracking can equip companies to optimize routing and transportation planning, forecast inventory management and logistics thus cutting down on fuel consumption, and emissions and controlling product wastage.
●   Development of affordable carbon capture technologies and alternatives: This can in turn help industries reduce their carbon footprint and repurpose captured carbon for the production of low-carbon fuels
●   Use of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in public transport: Despite their higher acquisition cost, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of EVs is often lower due to lower fuel and maintenance costs. Integrating EVs into public transport systems can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation industry and contribute to sustainable urban mobility
●   Reduced energy consumption with IoT-enabled sensors: IoT-enabled sensors can be used in building management systems to monitor energy consumption in real-time, detect occupancy and optimize energy usage accordingly. They can also track and analyze environmental factors to ensure optimal conditions while minimizing energy waste.

Achieving Net Zero with Modern Technology
The call for positive climate action is becoming increasingly urgent, and there are many ways in which technology can help fast-track the journey to net zero. Let’s look at some of them:
A recent study by Boston Consulting Group suggests that technology can help companies reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40%. The study summarized four key strategies to expedite the process of achieving net zero emissions using technology:

Machine learning is one of the many modern technologies that can accelerate the transition to low-carbon technology. The exhibit below shows how machine-learning technology can facilitate the usage of clean, low-carbon power:

Source: Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning (arxiv.org)

Understanding the potential that machine learning holds is only meaningful if we know how to implement it to drive real change. To accelerate societal adaptation to climate change using machine learning, various actionable strategies can be implemented, as outlined in the exhibit below:

Source: ResearchGate.net

The Benefits of Using Technology to Drive ESG Adoption
In a recent survey that Bain & Company and the World Economic Forum conducted,40% of the 400 executives surveyed believed that digital technologies have already begun to positively impact their sustainability goals. The incorporation of technology to optimize ESG reporting and drive sustainability efforts certainly offers various tangential advantages, including:

●  Product innovation and Stewardship
●  Helping existing businesses achieve new vertices with technology-driven sustainability measures
●  Seamless and automated ESG reporting
●  A holistic approach to ESG that factors in historical and predictive data
●  Mindful use of resources fuelled by consistent data tracking

The Challenges in Adopting Technology to Achieve ESG Goals
Organizations at the forefront of embracing technology to gather and report ESG data and further ESG goals may face various challenges at the outset. These include:

●  Speculation around AI adoption
●  Lack of access to data on key climate change metrics
●  Lack of subject matter expertise and capacity-building initiatives
●  Organizing data collection from multiple business verticals across all locations
●  Steep initial costs associated with climate adaptation technologies
●  Lack of accountability and initiative from the leadership team

Solutions exist
The actionable measures that organisations can take to get ahead of their competition are as below:

●  Identifying ESG-related risks
●  Implementing enterprise risk management and mitigation strategies
●  Driving long-term value creation by identifying non-financial drivers and gaining a competitive edge
●  Making compliance with upcoming ESG regulations and frameworks easier
●  Measuring and managing the organisational impact
●  Protecting human and social capital
●  Building supply chain resiliency
●  Improving ESG performance to attract investors

About Treeni
Treeni has established product market fit with the resustain™ SaaS platform, the sustainability data baseline in resustain™ enables enterprises to define strategy, and a roadmap to achieve goals & targets. The two platforms we offer include:

●   resustain™ Enterprise: ESG data management, dashboards & insights, performance management, and reporting platform for large global enterprises
●   resustain™ SMB: Addresses the unmet need for ESG data & performance management, and reporting in the SMB (small and medium-sized business) segment

resustain™ was built in India and Treeni's consulting and implementation teams can deploy to clients anywhere in the world. This unique ability and access to a large pool of domain and technology skills allow us to promise clients the lowest total costs of ownership (TCO).

Ask for a resustain™ SMB demo