In brief

In brief

  • Communication Service Providers’ (CSPs) omnipresence in the world’s operations positions them to directly address the challenges of climate change.
  • Accenture posits three stewardship roles for CSPs ready to be part of the solution: Sustainability Leaders, Ecosystem Enablers and Consumer Champions.
  • CSPs that set emission reduction goals for their business based on KPIs like operational demands and projected growth will see positive results.
  • Accenture Research found companies like CSPs that pursue sustainability alongside their digital transformation goals strengthen their future business.

Sustainability stewards of communications industry

Through Accenture’s proprietary research and direct experience working with CSPs worldwide, we have identified three pivotal roles for CSPs to embrace and become effective stewards of sustainability in the communications industry: Sustainability Leaders, Ecosystem Enablers and Consumer Champions.

By adopting these roles, CSPs can solidify their position at the forefront of environmental leadership and help position the communications industry as the standard-bearer for CO2 emission reductions.

These roles are not mutually exclusive; in fact, each role kickstarts the next so CSPs can embody all three roles over time.

Sustainability leaders

Sustainability Leaders face the environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenge with a different attitude than most. They go beyond approaching sustainability in terms of risk management or quick wins. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to simultaneously achieve environmental goals and drive profit through reduced costs and increased revenues.

Ecosystem enablers

An Ecosystem Enabler sets a new standard for peers and influence infrastructure. Their impact can be measured by how they help to reduce emissions across the value chain at their own companies as well as at other business partners and adjacent industries, to drive innovation and develop new sustainable products and services. The impact of an Ecosystem Enabler goes beyond in-house emissions; it expands to downstream product and service emissions and other opportunities for carbon abatement.

5G-enabled abatement potential by industry in the United States in 2025

Percentage of industries

5G-enabled abatement potential by industry in the United States in 2025

Consumer champions

A Consumer Champion uses their influence, resources, and relationships to educate consumers on the environmental impact of their activities, finds ways to reduce that impact, and drives improved sustainability outcomes in their communities. The role may vary depending on the regional geopolitical dynamics. However, the goal remains to reduce downstream emissions, find opportunities for carbon reduction, and use sustainability to drive brand loyalty and enhance customer experience.

CSPs that pursue sustainability quickly have the chance to define the new space and build advantages before slow-moving peers even get started.

Tailoring sustainable investment

When it comes to charting a path toward sustainability for CSPs, it’s important to understand that there is no one-size-that-fits-all answer. Solutions must be tailored based on the CSP’s existing infrastructure, core capabilities, and corporate ambitions. That said, Accenture has identified focus areas and ways of working required for all solutions.

Three areas for CSPs to sustainably invest in:

Strategic investment in newer, more efficient chips, network infrastructure, and materials (when necessary) integrate sustainability into daily business decisions.

Investment in products, procurement, innovation, and supply chain to infuse sustainability in the product’s full lifecycle.

Investment in consolidated data-driven tools can provide a holistic view of energy sources, pricing, and utilization. These tools also generate insights about the overall organization of the network, network operating expenses, and help find opportunities to integrate more renewables, remedy inefficiencies, and optimize buying schemes.

New ways of working:

To effectively drive company-wide adoption of sustainability, initiatives need to have a profitability component. This necessitates a focus on building new capabilities around sustainability and guiding and offering teams ongoing support during the process. Leadership needs to champion investments in the right tools, data management, and enterprise processes to boost sustainability so that the workforce is equipped to implement change.

As organizations recognize savings, new investments increase; as employees learn more about sustainability, new ideas grow, and new opportunities are identified as tools and data tracking investments mature.

Pushing CSPs towards a sustainable future

CSPs play a critical role in achieving global net-zero ambitions. Given the vast network of suppliers and customers, CSPs are uniquely positioned to inspire and lead change that reaches well beyond the emission reductions secured by their internal operations. They can influence behavior within their organization by educating employees and creating sustainable champion networks. By growing into the three roles of sustainable stewards, CSPs around the world can build their core business, deepen customer relationships, and position themselves for sustainable innovation in the future.

Albert Tan

Global Sustainability Lead, Communications & Media 

Jonathan Weitz

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, North America

Monica Kuroki

Director – Accenture Strategy, Sustainability, United Kingdom and Ireland

Mark Flynn

Senior Manager – Accenture Research


Measuring sustainability. Creating value
UN Global Compact–Accenture CEO Study
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