SUSTAINABILITY AND TECHNOLOGY: A CONNECTED FUTURE
FROM THE CEO
The age of sustainability is here. It is accentuating the importance of technology. Sustainability and technology, both of which are mutually reinforcing, are now the most significant sources of revenue growth for businesses worldwide. They have created demand for new kinds of products, including electric cars, solar panels, energy saving bulbs, organic food products, digital finance, etc.
According to Investopedia, sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This concept is concerned with maintaining a balance between economic, social and environmental considerations – the three pillars of sustainability. Technology on the other hand is evolutionary. It has been with us forever, and through it, the world is now embracing efficiency, having the three pillars of sustainability in mind.
Sustainability and technology are forcing us to envision the future world. How are we going to share the workplace with robots? What are we going to do with our vehicles that are powered by fossil fuels, which pollute the environment and heat up the atmosphere, and are soon to be abandoned for cleaner transportation? And how do we ensure that housing is affordable and accessible to all, and does not use too much of the available resources? These and similar complex questions that require simple solutions are creating new business opportunities, but they also demand effective and coordinated policymaking for a sustainable future.
As more developed countries diffuse technological innovations with sustainability, the time has come when developing countries like Nigeria must shape our actions with transitions to more sustainable ways of living for future generations.
ALIYU ALIYU, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
WITH EMPHASIS ON OUR PERSPECTIVE
Sustainability and technology are driving innovations across all sectors of the economy and society. The concept of sustainability has evolved over the past centuries. We could trace its roots to the industrial revolution in the 19th century, which brought about great advancement in technology and witnessed population boom, leading to increased consumption and generation of waste. Since then, the challenge and the opportunity are how to make things better and how to live in harmony with fellow humans, and the environment in a more prosperous world.
As has been realized, we were not doing well in maintaining the balance. Industrial advances meant a setback for the environment. Very few people have so much more than they need while many do not have basic necessities of life. The good news is that there is now an unprecedented global commitment to mitigating environmental degradation and social inequality. These efforts are taking places at supranational, regional, national and local levels. Big businesses, SMEs, and startups are part of the solutions, either by mitigating harmful practices or delivering innovative solutions that represent the vast opportunities in sustainability.
Unsurprisingly, the technology behemoth, Google became the first major company to become “carbon neutral” since 2007, first buying high-quality carbon offsets and later using renewable energy for its entire energy need. Google has also set an ambitious target of becoming “carbon free” by 2030. Its lead has inspired other big tech companies, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, to commit to carbon neutrality by 2040.
Nigerian companies, big and small, should also commit to sustainability and technological advancement. This is not only necessary to transform our economy, it is also vital to making the country a good place to live for our future generations.
“Going green’, ‘clean energy’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘future-proof’ are recurring motifs across all business sectors already, and they find particular resonance in real estate. Also, technology is being deployed to deliver these and other sustainability themes in real estate design, construction, material composition, safety, and management across both the residential and commercial market segments. Businesses such as Airbnb and WeWork have rapidly risen to prominence, thanks to groundbreaking technologies.
For sure, Nigeria is not without active participants in sustainable real estate. We are also entering an era in which policymakers are keen to drive the agenda in the sector. Bilaad Realty is proud of its commitment to sustainability in the real estate sector and its efforts to crowd-in future-proof practices through its advocacy.
Commitment to Innovation
Innovation is the link between sustainability and technology. There are ongoing efforts towards promoting an innovation economy in Africa, even if results are still underwhelming. ICT hubs and technology parks need to make more showing on the landscape. But two areas that the continent has made impressive advances on are financial technology and e-commerce. Nigeria is a signpost for some of the developments, with Jumia, InterSwitch and Flutterwave achieving unicorn status, i.e., a company or start-up with a valuation of over $1 billion.
Nevertheless, the government needs to make the business environment more enabling for startups. One area of intervention is to improve access to electricity supply, and the other is to make broadband internet more available. A thriving startup ecosystem will be of immense benefit to the government. We are already seeing this on both sides of collecting public revenues and making payment, making more transparency and accountability possible, besides actually helping to increase revenue generation.
Although societies are now very much dependent on technology, we must thrive on making sustainability the mission, driven by technological innovation. Technology alone will not be enough, despite its essentiality. Developing countries like Nigeria must make practical commitments towards creating a future that is prosperous and socially and environmentally sustainable.