In our previous Ecosystm Insights, Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Gerald Mackenzie, highlighted the key drivers for boosting ESG maturity and the need to transition from standalone ESG projects to integrating ESG goals into organisational strategy and operations.
This shift can be difficult, requiring an alignment of ESG objectives with broader strategic aims and using organisational capabilities effectively. The solution involves prioritising essential goals, knitting them into overall business strategy, quantifying success metrics, and establishing incentives and governance for effective execution.
The benefits are proven and significant. Stronger Customer and Employee Value Propositions, better bottom line, improved risk profile, and more attractive enterprise valuations for investors and lenders.
According to Gerald, here are 5 things to keep in mind when starting on an ESG journey.
A 2020 McKinsey report revealed that executives and investors value companies with robust ESG performance around 10% higher in valuations than laggards. Equally pivotal, workplace diversity is now recognised as a strategic advantage; a study in the Harvard Business Review finds that companies with above-average total diversity had both 19% higher innovation revenues and 9% higher EBIT margins, on average. Against this backdrop, organisations must recognise that embracing ESG principles is not merely an ethical gesture but a strategic imperative that safeguards resilience, reputation, and enduring financial prosperity.
The data from the ongoing Ecosystm State of ESG Adoption study was used to evaluate the status and maturity of organisations’ ESG strategy and implementation progress. A diverse representation across industries such as Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Retail & eCommerce, as well as from roles across the organisation has helped us with insights and an understanding of where organisations stand in terms of the maturity of their ESG strategy and implementation efforts.
A Tailored Approach to Improve ESG Maturity
Ecosystm assists clients in driving greater impact through their ESG adoption. Our tools evaluate an organisation’s aspirations and roadmaps using a maturity model, along with a series of practical drivers that enhance ESG response maturity. The maturity of an organisation’s approach on ESG tends to progress from a reactive, or risk/compliance-based focus, to a customer, or opportunity driven approach, to a purpose led approach that is focused on embedding ESG into the core culture of the organisation. Our advisory, research and consulting offerings are customised to the transitions organisations are seeking to make in their maturity levels over time.
Within the maturity framework outlined above, Ecosystm has identified the key organisational drivers to improve maturity and adoption. The Ecosystm ESG Consulting offerings are configured to both support the development of ESG strategy and the delivery and ‘story telling’ around ESG programs based on the goals of the customer (maturity aspiration) and the gaps they need to close to deliver the aspiration.
Key Findings of the Ecosystm State of ESG Study
89% of respondents self-reported that their organisation had an ESG strategy; however, a notable 60% also identified that a lack of alignment of sustainability goals to enterprise strategy was a key issue in implementation. This reflects many of the client discussions we’ve had, where customers share that ESG goals that have not been fully tested against other organisational priorities can create tensions and make it difficult to solve trade-offs across the organisation during implementation.
People & Leadership/Execution & Governance
Capabilities are still emerging. 40% of respondents mentioned that a lack of a governance framework for ESG was a barrier to adoption, and 56% mentioned that immature metrics and reporting maturity slowed adoption. 64% of respondents also mentioned that a lack of specialised resources as a key barrier to ESG adoption.
In our discussions with customers, we understand that there is good support for ESG across organisations, but there needs to be a simple narrative compelling them to action on a few clearly articulated priorities, a clear mandate from senior leadership and credible resourcing and governance to ensure follow through.
Data and Technology Enablement
There is a strong opportunity for improvement. “We can’t manage what we cannot measure” has been the common refrain from the clients we have spoken to and the survey reflected this. Only 47% of respondents say that preparing data, analytics, reporting, and metrics for internal consumption is a priority for their tech teams.
ESG is rapidly emerging as a key priority for customers, investors, talent, and other stakeholders who seek a comprehensive and genuine commitment from the organisations they interact with. Successfully determining the right priorities and effectively mobilising your organisation and external collaborators for implementation are pivotal. It’s crucial to acknowledge the intricacy and extent of effort needed for this endeavour.
With our timely research findings complementing our ESG maturity and implementation frameworks, analyst insights and consulting support, Ecosystm is well-positioned to help you to navigate your journey to ESG maturity.
The focus on sustainability needs to be universal – across all cloud and AI providers. AI usage IS exploding – and we are just at the tip of the iceberg today. It will continue to grow as it becomes easier to use and deploy, more readily available, and more relevant across all industries and organisations. But we are at a stage of climate warming where we cannot increase our greenhouse gas emissions – and offsetting these emissions just passes the buck.
We need more companies like HPE and Qscale to build this Sustainable Future – and we need to be thinking the same way in our own data centres and putting pressure on our own AI and overall technology value chain to think more sustainably and act in the interests of the planet and future generations. Cloud providers – like AWS – are committed to the NetZero goal (by 2040 in their case) – but this is meaningless if our requirement for computing capacity increases a hundred-fold in that period. Our businesses and our tech partners need to act today. It is time for organisations to demand it from their tech providers to influence change in the industry.
Space-based solar power (SBSP) uses photovoltaic panels on satellites to generate electricity and beam it back to Earth in microwave form. The energy is then converted back to electricity at a rectenna receiving station connected to the grid. By deploying a network of geostationary satellites, it is theoretically possible to transmit energy around the globe before beaming it back to Earth. The technology would be a breakthrough, generating abundant renewable energy 24 hours per day, regardless of the weather or season. This would overcome the primary challenge of renewables – intermittency – and reduce the need for storage.
Reusable Rockets and Small Satellites
One of the greatest hurdles to commercialising SBSP is the prohibitive cost to launch into orbit, but the advent of reusable rockets and small satellites has brought down the price dramatically. Private companies, like SpaceX and Rocket Lab, charge between USD 3,000-30,000 per kilogram of payload to low earth orbit, a fraction of the cost when launches were dominated by government space agencies.
The emergence of cheaper small satellites, or CubeSats, is also creating a landscape favourable to innovation in space. Researchers can afford to experiment with new technologies by launching prototypes into orbit and iterating quickly.
Caltech Experiment Proves Transmission is Possible
While the efficiency and durability of photovoltaic panels have improved exponentially and the cost of launching satellites into space has plummeted, transmitting power back to Earth remains a challenge. Electricity must be converted into microwaves, with the beams steered back through the earth’s atmosphere. Transmission can be degraded by factors, such as atmospheric absorption, diffraction, and weather.
Researchers from The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recently achieved a milestone by demonstrating that the transmission of energy from space is possible. The Caltech Space Solar Power Project (SSPP) launched the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE) onboard the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1) earlier this year. In progressively ambitious experiments, the researchers lit up two LEDs in orbit to test energy transfer in space. Next, they successfully transmitted a “detectable” amount of power to antennae on the roof of the Moore Laboratory at Caltech. This may prove to be the first step toward developing a commercially viable system.
Governments Recognise Space-based Solar Potential
With sustainability and energy security coming sharply into focus over the last year, governments have sat up and paid attention to the potential of SBSP. The UK’s energy security secretary, Grant Shapps, recently announced the winners of £4.3M in funding to develop the technology. The grants were devised to tap into the 10GW of space-based solar power potential that an independent study estimated would be available to the UK. Public entities in the EU, China, Japan, and the US have made similar announcements over the past 12 months, signalling a rapid shift in momentum for SBSP.
A Revolution of Space-based Power and Communications
Although SBSP is still undeniably an experimental technology, recent developments hint at a future where clean energy could be beamed down to Earth. Even accounting for transmission loss, each solar power satellite is estimated to deliver the equivalent of a nuclear power station to the grid.
Access to power remains a major obstacle to data centre operators, whether they are hyperscale cloud providers, city-based facilities at capacity, or small regional edge data centres. In recent years, cloud hubs, such as Singapore and Ireland, have imposed strict controls on new data centre builds due to concerns about escalating power consumption. Rising prices for natural gas have made the business case for renewable sources for data centre power even more attractive and space-based solar is an alluring candidate to add to the future mix.
Power transmitted to Earth could be coupled with low latency connectivity provided by satellites in low earth orbit from the likes of Starlink. The pairing of power and connectivity from satellites means even remote locations could be served. Advances in energy and communications have ignited progress since the discovery of fire and the emergence of language and these space-based innovations will undoubtedly play a key role in the next industrial revolution.