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Sustainable Development – co-existential or paradoxical?

Vivek Dsilva

Great stories begin with lines like “It was a dark and stormy night.” My story might not be dark, or stormy, or start a long time ago (although it does begin in the last millennium) but I hope by the end of it you’re inspired and ponder your choices to contribute towards saving the planet. As a child, I was raised on a farm. Plastic bags were all the rage, since they were abundantly available and easy to throw away. However, being on a farm, plastic would block the flow of water or be a dump. And so, in summer of 1987, my mum introduced a new rule – no plastic use. We used and reused cloth bags. Interestingly enough, three and a half decades later, I continue using the covers of our couch which were reused to sew multiple bags. With the advent of new-age technology, over the last years, I not only saved over 1.5 million liters of water in my apartment, aided in planting 100+ trees across the country, sponsored child education, but also built a carbon footprint analytics solution showing, in a single dashboard scorecard, the overall ranking of supply chain and finance efficiencies for clients that use SAP software.

This blog is not only about what I do in my capacity as the Head of the European SAP Center of Excellence in India, but as an individual committed to sustainability. Disruptions in the last 20 years have become more rapid. In many cases, we’re living the future from a technology standpoint, but this comes at the expense of the planet. What good is having a wifi hotspot if trees are uprooted? What good is sitting comfortably with AC when the planet is burning? What good is a car journey when sea life is being destroyed? How good is chocolate when a child somewhere goes hungry or is the reason for you getting your meal?

This balance of societal and economic extravagance and minimalization is becoming a must. Unless you believe that every action and inaction of yours has a wider global impact – you’ll not make the changes in your day to day life! And I firmly believe that if each of us take responsibility of our own surrounding these goals all translate from individual into family, societal, and corporate goals.

For the last year and a half, a few of my team members and I in our spare time over weekends built analytical and transactional solutions/apps that aggregate data from the SAP transactions to calculate sustainability metrics and provide actionable insights to end users. So, when the Davos 2020 meeting in January saw SAP’s Executive Board announce Climate 21 and July saw Capgemini CEO, Aiman Ezzat, boldly announce the intent to achieve carbon neutrality in a ten-year net zero ambition, I took the Tech for Positive Futures step. We officially launched our GreenCaps solution and are proactively bringing together technology, business, and societal KPIs to create and enable a better world.

My team and I have set optional KPIs on sustainability for ourselves. My checklist contains becoming zero plastic users at home, selling my car, using public transport, growing a kitchen garden and switching lights off. One additional highlight and the biggest satisfaction, was working with the apartments “Car Washers Brigade” to use water more effectively, saving a massive 1.5 million liters of water for the community. I know that none of our activities makes it to any corporate report, but then again it’s my team’s and my approach and mindset that counts. We’ve become a healthier team, a more green team – a team that distinguished frugality from sustainability, much like my lesson from the summer of ‘87.

While development is inevitable, it need not be paradoxical. It’s imperative that we don’t lip sync or jump on bandwagons as pretense. Let’s consciously do our bit to leave this planet we inherited, or, return to our future generation what we’ve borrowed from them in advance, a little better than we are living on it. To learn more about our GreenCaps solution, join us in our Mission Million with IAHV, or just converse on new sustainability initiatives, do not hesitate to write to me.