Reconnecting with nature through technology

  • Posted on December 12, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Regeneration and protection of natural ecosystems

Climate change and carbon reduction commitments have finally made it onto the agenda of most organizations, but a universal shift towards system thinking, regeneration and natural ecosystems is next – so what needs to be done?

In the autumn we attended the Blue Earth Summit in Bristol, one of the largest gatherings for regenerative businesses and organizations promoting sustainability in the UK. Before we go further, it’s important to explain what a regenerative business is, put simply, these are organizations that contribute more to our planet and society than they extract from them.

This was a clear message that was prevalent throughout the conference, the need for a reconnection with nature from both organizations and individuals and a return to the idea that we are at one with, not working for or against nature. Today, advances in AI mean technology is helping us accomplish things better, faster and more efficiently. It’s time we start leveraging these advances to shift our mindset and sustainability goals into the next gear.

When we speak to our clients about sustainability, they understand the need to align sustainability with their broader organizational goals – they work hand-in-hand, not against one another. This shift among organizations is moving in the right direction, but significant work remains. Nine planetary boundaries were established that define conditions in which humanity can advance and flourish for generations to follow. Six of these planetary boundaries have already been transgressed, which highlights the strong interlink between the climate and the biodiversity crisis. The UN estimates that we are still nowhere near the scale and pace required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, which suggests that the world’s average temperature should not exceed that of preindustrial times by more 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists at COP28 warned that climatic systems such as mangroves and seagrass meadows could soon die off if the planet’s temperature reaches above 1.5C.

The recent commitment at COP28 to operationalize the loss and damage fund is recognition globally that developing nations are at the forefront of climate change. While biodiversity loss and resource depletion are large global challenges, we must remember that small incremental changes can have significant impacts. To enhance nature’s capacity to mitigate climate change, national governments need to strengthen their commitments to nature and implement them quickly, but organizations also need to recognize their responsibility in propelling change.

Implementing modest changes such as adhering to green software principles, minimizing utilities usage, and investing in nature can contribute to your organization playing its part, and encourage a necessary mindset shift.

Becoming a regenerative business starts with reminding ourselves that we depend on nature to survive. It’s the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat and the resources we use to create energy to live - so how do we give it a voice? Many of the organizations we heard from at Blue Earth Summit recognise that prioritizing nature is essential to the success of their business and are proving that a triple bottom line in which planet, people and profit are equally rewarded and do not have to be sacrificed for another is not just possible but enables them to thrive. Consider this, what if nature had a seat at the table? How would that change the decisions you make and how you make them?

Faith in Nature, a natural beauty products company, have become one of the first organizations to transform their business from the top by giving nature a seat on their board, taking stakeholder governance to a new level by ensuring nature is an official decision-making entity in their organization. By altering the legal constructs of how their organization is governed, they can more easily enforce strategic long-term decision-making around all species not just their human shareholders.

This action by Faith in Nature may feel difficult for your organization but there are plenty of opportunities that can be the catalysts towards a mindset shift centred around nature. For example, harvesting the power of technology to prioritize giving nature a voice. With regulation on the way requiring biodiversity accounting as well as carbon in the not-so-distant future, harnessing the power of recent emerging technology advancements can get you ahead of the curb.

For organizations this means tracking and reporting on your impact on nature is no longer enough. To create a real value shift it’s time to leverage technology to advance whole organizational systems around nature and enable principles of protection, regeneration, and circulation to be woven into every decision point. Through these changes, nature can be brought onto a level playing field with people and profit.

Avanade has worked with many organizations in advancing their sustainability efforts through digital technology. We partnered with SSE Renewables, the world’s largest producer of offshore wind energy, on a species monitoring AI solution that uses Microsoft Vision AI to protect local wildlife. We worked with Anglian Water to develop the world’s first ecological digital twin of a chalk stream to better protect biodiversity. We partnered with Accenture and Microsoft to help Duke Energy, one of the largest US energy holding companies, develop a pioneering methane emissions monitoring platform to prevent methane leaks, which is vital to limiting planetary warming.

By prioritizing nature, we believe your organization can unlock new value for people, planet, and profit. As a global Microsoft sustainability partner and a steering committee member of the Green Software Foundation, we offer specialized insights and expertise. Our goal is to assist your organization in leveraging digital tools to reimagine sustainability, all while applying green software principles to minimize the environmental impact of these solutions. With experience in helping organizations with environmental protection, species monitoring, reporting, disclosure, and resource aware ecosystems, we empower organizations to achieve data-driven investments in nature that will help lead to a more sustainable future.

Give nature back its voice, and see your organization stand the test of time.

Learn more about the smart sustainability actions for a greener future that Avanade can assist you with.

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