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Collaborating with Defra’s e-Sustainability Alliance

Matthew Bradley
21 Nov 2019

This planet will survive whether by design or disaster, but as Architects of Positive Futures we are collaborating with our clients to leverage technology as part of the design.

On Thursday 24th October I attended a conference which launched the new Defra e-Sustainability Alliance (DeSa) at the Natural History Museum. This in itself was an appropriate setting in that the museum’s purpose is to ‘challenge the way people think about the natural world’, and to get people talking about the past, the present and the future, whilst at the heart of Defra’s mission is that the future environment is left in a better state than we presently find it. Capgemini, as a member of this Alliance of sixteen organisations, is at the forefront of the vision to support and facilitate a future where working together and using technology is key to addressing the increasing challenges posed by climate change.

A focus for Capgemini on the day was to recognise that whilst the IT Industry is well known for its unintentional consequences related to energy use, the positive impacts that Capgemini can deliver through technology could far outweigh the negative ones. Whilst it is true that we consume more energy than France, Italy and Spain added together, between now and 2030 we could save 11 giga tonnes of carbon through technology. That is more than the EU have saved in the last 25 years.

Preventing disaster

Above all, it is important to get people thinking about how Capgemini is applying technology towards creating a more sustainable future and indeed how we can use technology to meet organisational sustainability challenges.

One of the key areas of concern highlighted by Defra was the datacentre water crisis and the need for data centre managers to understand the fundamental impact of water cooling. Indeed, a typical datacentre would consume 100,000 litres over five years. However, in line with our Architects of Positive Futures strategy, Capgemini has devised a three domains of influence model.

Through Capgemini’s Merlin data centre, we have optimised the technology to reduce the water consumed, saving 75,000 litres of water or 16Kg CO2e. However, once we have made the IT estate sustainable, it is necessary to grow the technology platforms to impact the wider operations of our clients, such as the optimisation of engineer allocation and routes or the remote inspection and assessment of installed water pipes and in so doing increase the savings to 542 tonnes of CO2e per year.

The final domain within which technology can have the biggest impact we term “Customer of Customers” whereby the implementation of technology such as advanced data analytics has the capability to mitigate water leaks for a utility company through proactive detection and in so doing facilitate a saving of 12,400 tonnes CO2e per year.

Promoting design

Capgemini can actively help to address all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the heart of the Defra e-Sustainability Alliance. Currently Capgemini is at the forefront of using digital technology to drive progress and will be key to outlining best practice. Therefore, we will work alongside Defra to provide advice to IT firms of all sizes in order for them to learn how to minimise their environmental impact, which is a significant and an ever-increasing demand being placed upon them. We will also use digital technology to show non-IT businesses how to achieve progress towards these SDGs.

Moreover, Capgemini recently launched a pilot scheme called project FARM (Financing Agricultural Recommendations Model) in Kenya, underpinning Goal 2 of the SDGs of Zero Hunger. Capgemini is directly applying technology by using AI and machine learning to help small hold farmers increase their crops by as much as 50% whilst at the same time avoiding the use of fertilisers and improving water management. This actively underpins one of Defra’s key missions for the future as highlighted on the day by Defra’s chief digital and information officer Christopher Howes, that is to make our water purer, ‘and to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.’

Above all, and as was evident in the inspiring setting of the Natural History Museum, it is clear that our past race to become a digital world, and the subsequent environmental risks of an increasingly digital present will provide Capgemini with a key role to create a greener, and more sustainable future through the use of technology. In so doing, we can not only challenge the way people and businesses think about the natural world, but through supporting those businesses with technological solutions we can become the real architects of positive change for a positive future.