My apartment recently flooded because of a massive storm in Bengaluru, where I live. Without electricity or water for days, my family and I had to move immediately to a hotel. Thanks to my wife’s intuition and insistence, I removed my car from the basement. Otherwise, we might now be without a car.

As a researcher working on a report about how technology can offer enterprises effective solutions for sustainability efforts, this personal experience reinforced quite a few realities that were previously only “theoretical” ideas. The biggest one: sustainability is not optional. We must all take action and the time to act is now.


The cost of dealing with the consequences, collectively and individually, is far higher than any investments to prevent or manage environmental changes. And we are all stakeholders—we need collective action from businesses, governments, individuals and others.

Bengaluru has seen drastic change in the city’s landscape over the last few decades. From 68% vegetation cover in 1973, today the city has 93% built-up area, reducing the vegetation cover to only 3%. But Bengaluru is not an exception in facing extreme weather events. The realities of climate change combined with local weather patterns are increasingly wreaking havoc across the globe. A recent WEF report identified extreme weather events as the second highest risk over the next decade, second only to climate change.

Businesses, too, are facing the consequences. Interruptions in the supply chain caused by extreme weather events are a significant concern for nearly half the CEOs, according to the UNGC-Accenture CEO study.

The good news is that digital technology and tools are ready to offer solutions to many of the complex challenges companies face. Our recent report titled “Uniting Technology and Sustainability” shows that technology will be a fundamental driver of sustainability.

The concern is that 93% of businesses have not yet fully integrated their sustainability and technology strategies. Businesses can, and should, “ACT NOW” (Adapt. Conserve. Trace. Network. Operationalize. Weigh) to unite their sustainability and technology strategies. Here are some ways to act immediately.


We will have to face the consequences of our past action as climate change turns natural stabilizing feedback loops into amplifying feedback loops. Predictive tools can help forecast the risks from climate change and extreme weather events to a company’s facilities and operations as a step towards developing detailed action plan for mitigating its impact. One Concern, a resilience analytics technology company, has collected millions of data points on windstorm, earthquake and flood risks to create a digital twin that can model the disaster exposure of a company’s facility as well as the network it depends on, such as highways and power grids.


There are several actions businesses can take to conserve energy, natural ecosystems and biodiversity as they look to meet their net zero targets. Technology is a powerful ally—as our research shows, 70% of companies that successfully reduced emissions in their production and operations used AI, while 69% said that cloud was a key enabler.


Nearly 63% of CEOs identify difficulty in measurement data across the supply chain as a major barrier to ESG and sustainability initiatives. Digital twins—which bring together data and intelligence at a massive scale to create virtual, mirrored worlds of products and processes—can be powerful enablers. They allow enterprises to run massive simulations to help build responsible supply chains and optimize processes, as Sanofi is experiencing. Blockchain can not only help provide real-time traceability, but it can also help build trust with supply-chain partners.


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Delivering on the promise of sustainability will require a clear focus on converting strategy into action by converting data into granular insights

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No single organization can hope to address global sustainability challenges and create impact at scale on its own. Ecosystems are essential to revolutionize the use of technology and drive sustainability at scale, whether it is to design standards and specifications, share data to analyze interdependencies or create impact at the last mile with startups and nonprofits. Project Amplify, a partnership between Microsoft and Accenture, is helping 47 startups scale their social impact and sustainability efforts with access to the latest technologies, expertise and mentoring.


Delivering on the promise of sustainability will require a clear focus on converting strategy into action by converting data into granular insights. KPIs and metrics are needed not just for disclosure and reporting to stakeholders but also for making real-time business decisions. Consider an e-commerce client that partnered with Accenture to design a cloud-based, AI-enabled sustainability platform for auto-collecting data and measuring ESG performance across the value chain. The tool goes a step further to provide recommendations on operation optimization to improve ESG scores.


Companies need to scale sustainability across the organization, embedding sustainability into their organizational DNA. This will mean becoming adept at weighing options that link profitability and ESG performance more closely. It will require cultivating a learning culture, starting with clear principles and objectives, developing a playbook to translate principles into practices, establishing key KPIs and metrics, and democratizing access to technology for all employees and business units. As part of strengthening their sustainability DNA, companies will also need to minimize the potentially harmful side effects of the technology, which is a topic far beyond the scope of this blog (but addressed in detail in the report).

Sustainability is no longer a “nice to have.” It is core to the mission of purpose-driven organizations. Technology is a critical enabler as organizations respond to the demands of their stakeholderswhether they are customers, investors or employeeswhile shaping a brighter future for people and the planet. We must all act now.

Shalabh Kumar Singh

Thought Leadership Research Senior Principal, Accenture Research

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