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The importance of being transparent for a sustainable future

Andy Ng
Andy Ng • 5 min read
The importance of being transparent for a sustainable future
Implementing mindful data management practices can directly impact energy and waste usage. Photo: Unsplash
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Across the Asia Pacific region, sustainability is increasingly becoming a front-of-mind topic. With data stored in the cloud growing at an exponential rate, businesses at every level are feeling the heat as scrutiny around carbon emissions increases. Almost 60% of CEOs admit that they feel increasing stress to be more transparent about their corporate carbon footprint to meet stakeholder satisfaction.

The new Singapore Emission Factors Registry is a step in the right direction, applying pressure on companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions transparently and accurately. But this register alone is not enough to encourage proactive change in our industry. Industry leaders must become more self-aware and equip their organisations with the right tools to meet ambitious goals that properly reflect the sustainability values of their customer base. 

As we celebrate Earth Day this year, we must not only meet but also work toward exceeding the growing expectations to actively report on carbon emissions in our industry. Although public reporting metrics are a critical step, businesses must also reflect on how best to minimise their carbon output. Leaders must arm themselves with effective data management tools that help them accurately track emissions and sustainability targets. Ensuring that data is meaningfully saved and processed to maximise their ability to generate insights on sustainability will help pave a more conscious and effective blueprint for sustainability success.

Data management frameworks

Business leaders should first understand that their operations at any level are directly linked to their total corporate carbon footprint, including the volume and types of data stored in the cloud. Data consumption and storage can indirectly produce emissions through the energy emitted by data centres. Companies that harbour large amounts of redundant and outdated information will likely create an unnecessary amount of energy demand to host this information in a data centre.

This type of emission is classified under "scope three" emissions, that is, indirect emissions from sources that may not be directly owned or managed by an organisation, but more so by its relevant activities. Other forms of scope three emissions include waste disposal, material manufacturing, and transportation. 

See also: How to innovate with AI in a privacy-protective way

Implementing mindful data management practices can directly impact energy and waste usage. Businesses should look for practices that enable better data visibility across their businesses – but the first step to limiting emissions related to data hoarding is implementing data minimisation policies. This can be achieved through de-duplication.

The secret of de-duplication

Implementing data de-duplication optimises data storage by eliminating copies and storing one unique data entry. Deleting duplications and unnecessary data reduces a company’s risk of exposure and data-related energy consumption. This form of elimination can also lessen a software system’s processing time, making it a win-win for a business’ security team and sustainability goals.

See also: Mature data management is critical in ensuring enterprises are AI-ready

Although de-duplication assists in achieving a cleaner footprint, it is only when it is coupled with more transparent reporting that it can effectively help from a corporate perspective. Organisations must be upfront and truthful about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics if they are to retain the trust and respect of business partners.

Identifying ESG metrics

Globally, companies are publicly posting carbon emissions reports and other sustainability-related materials to be transparent and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. This reflects an ongoing universal effort to drive more eco-friendly practices and ensures businesses are up to speed with compliance and government regulations. More organisations are choosing to address their carbon emissions by implementing a dedicated ESG system of record. 

The first step in achieving this is to sweep current activities that could impact or contribute to their footprint. Businesses can begin this process with a sustainability audit, determining pressure points, and creating a path that can help achieve greener goals and data-driven decisions. These audits can also identify water and energy usage, waste management, supplier chains, and other environmental consequences that directly impact business operations. 

Other practices that businesses can leverage include the greenhouse gas protocol, enabling businesses to calculate their company’s greenhouse gas emissions. This involves a company converting their emissions to CO2 depending on their global warming potential. Once this is completed, businesses can measure their CO2 emissions in metric tons and know their actual emissions.

What’s next?

In celebration of Earth Day, companies should reflect on their current policies and processes to ensure that they are meeting ambitious ESG targets and implementing best practices to limit their carbon output. For example, by adopting sound cloud-based data management, including solutions for deduplicating data and eliminating multi-cloud storage inefficiencies, organisations are on the right track to advance their sustainability agenda.

With the burgeoning carbon footprint and environmental impact, the issue of sustainability and care for our planet should be consistently front of mind. Businesses all year round must commit to creating a greener and healthier planet that meets the needs of the company and the world.

Andy Ng is the vice president and managing director for Asia South and Pacific Region at Veritas Technologies

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