As climate change, social justice, diversity and inclusion concerns escalate, a strong push for advancing corporate sustainability has become evident.
Earlier this year, the Singapore government unveiled its ‘whole-of-nation movement’ plan—known as the Singapore Green Plan 2030—to advance the city-state’s agenda on sustainable development.
According to the United Nations (UN), sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” To drive better sustainable stewardship, Singapore has designated five pillars within the Green Plan that influence all aspects of lives: City in Nature, Energy Reset, Sustainable Living, Green Economy, and a Resilient Future.
Today, many businesses have adapted these domains into three pillars for corporate sustainability: Environment, Social and Governance (ESG):
- Environment looks at how companies develop approaches to sustainable operation and innovation to advance positive environmental outcomes. Examples of environmental focus areas include greening the supply chain, reducing onsite and offsite carbon emissions, conserving natural resources or applying circular economy principles to business operations and design.
- Social is focused towards advancing human society in its relationships with other businesses and communities in areas such as workforce accessibility, human rights advocacy, education, diversity, employment opportunities and supporting non-profits or making philanthropic investments.
- Governance focuses on ensuring transparent, ethical and accurate business practices in areas of regulatory compliance, internal controls, financial accounting, executive leadership and shareholder rights.
These pillars, in turn, form the basis by which the ethical practices of a company can be assessed through measurement frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), CDP Climate Change, EcoVadis surveys and others such as MSCI, ISS and FTSE4Good. More and more, socially conscious investors are also looking at ESG ratings to screen potential investments.
Sustainability as a business opportunity
There is a strong societal and business push towards advancing sustainability progress as the concerns of climate change, social justice, diversity and inclusion movements become more evident. At a time when shareholders, customers, and employees are increasingly aligning their values and leveraging investments for the public good, there come new demands on institutions to make ESG performance and sustainable investment part of their long-term strategy. This means that an inclusive and equitable world goes hand in hand with sustainable growth.
In Asia, around 79% of investors have increased ESG investments “significantly” or “moderately” in response to the global pandemic, according to a recent MSCI 2021 Global Institutional Investor survey. At the same time, 57% of investors in the Asia Pacific region are expected to have “completely” or “to a large extent” incorporated ESG issues into their investment analysis and decision-making processes by the end of 2021.
Not only do sustainable businesses tend to garner higher rates of investment, increased talent retention and better market recognition and reputation, the mindset also represents a source of innovation: one that companies seek for a competitive advantage.
Interconnect to drive sustainable DX
According to Singapore’s Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee, everyone has a role to play when it comes to climate change—from government action, to business practices of industry partners, to the daily habits of individuals. This is where Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements have become more important than ever to continue to build Singapore’s sustainable infrastructure development.
The creation of a green environment cannot only rely on the contributions of just a single enterprise. The sphere of a company’s influence is no longer just within its own operations. Beyond the Scope 1 and 2 Emissions defined by The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, companies now are increasingly looking at Scope 3 Emissions, which include all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.
As such, it requires true collaboration to achieve a sustainable future. Customers and partners now want to purchase solutions from companies that can demonstrate sustainable operations and help them “green” their own supply chains. As part of the buying process, more businesses are requiring proof of environmental initiatives, metrics and certifications that can help them meet their own sustainability objectives.
Colocation providers sit in the centre of the sustainability discussion. This is because the digital revolution and the rise of digital edge requirements are putting pressure on data centres. As a result, many providers are expanding rapidly, leading to higher rates of energy consumption. This has led many in the sector to focus increasingly on sustainable development.
Moving the needle toward a greener future
Given that Singapore is one of the top five data center markets in the world, it is worth highlighting that digital infrastructure—powered by technology solutions from companies—can be an enormous force for good.
Consider the positive environmental impact that remote work, supported by digital technologies, brings in terms of reduced travel, waste and pollution. The positive environmental impact of these technologies, which drives more efficiency, less waste and de-materialization of processes, is estimated to be over seven-times higher than their environmental costs.
However, you can rest assured that Equinix are still pressing hard to minimize or eliminate those remaining impacts. We strive to use more renewable energy globally to lower our carbon footprint from energy consumption. We have achieved 100% renewable energy usage in our Singapore data centers. We also protect our collective future by partnering with like-minded organizations and companies to advance clean and renewable energy policies, buying practices and innovation while greening supply chains worldwide.
Expanding the use of clean energy for data center operations is essential to moving the industry towards carbon neutrality. Partnerships and collaboration between utilities, policymakers, and data center operators can create an ecosystem for greater renewable energy opportunities and take a leap forward to helping Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region transition to a green economy.