With the 2030 deadline fast approaching, countries and enterprises are increasingly pushing market trends toward more ESG-conscious patterns of behavior. There is no shortage of potential solutions and guidebooks to inform people on the best practices they can adopt to achieve this – is it even possible to reconfigure entire industries? Are there practical solutions for this within digital transformation processes? And, ultimately, are we doing enough?
A lot can be said about ditching single-use plastics, an uptake in 3D modeling (including the reusability of the materials created in this type of manufacturing), recycling of raw materials, and the impact these methods have on lowering the amount of waste in incinerators, landfills, and oceans. Countries and companies are falling short in their pledges to reduce carbon emissions, and thus, carbon footprints. Sadly, this includes the environmental impact of digital footprints too. As such, this feeds into the discrepancies and malpractice within the digital divide and wealth gap, which is arguably exponentially worse for underserved communities globally. Recent flash flooding in places like Pakistan – a country with one of the lowest carbon footprints despite its massive population size – is a prime example that a “one size fits all” approach is not only ineffective but obsolete in this plight. However, there is a silver lining in the potential future networks that can enable solutions to a more ESG-focused digital transformation.
5G promises a customizable approach to connectivity, the potential for mass adoption of IoT, the introduction of intelligent and automated technology capable of tackling anything under the sun, and the amount of raw and manmade material used in its infrastructure. While this all seems like a novel solution to a fast-growing problem, can it save us from impending doom? The short answer is: yes if we act now.
The telco industry is in a unique position in this fight against climate change and the inevitable shortages it will entail. Aside from the fact that 5G is the catalyst of digital transformation, the ample funds and technological prowess to address certain socioeconomic issues perpetuating the digital divide, digital footprints, engineering infrastructure, and designing technological advances are almost unparalleled. 5G networks and multi-edge computing (MEC) have the capability of real-time performance analytics and predictive maintenance to facilitate troubleshooting and managing energy and technological efficiencies. This can translate to significant reductions in cost, and carbon footprints alike. According to various studies, 5G networks can be up to 90% more efficient than legacy wireless technologies with automation and ORAN features facilitating IoT, and dynamic rerouting of energy where and when needed, eliminating unnecessary waste.
Furthermore, features supporting network governance and compliance can enhance safeguarding data and network security and privacy. This not only enhances a network’s value chain but furthers monitoring the impact of activities across networks while ensuring the environment and social impacts of enterprises on the wider community.
While this is a very summarized overview of all the promises 5G holds for meeting ESG needs, the question remains – are we doing all that we can?