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The road to sustainability in ICT

Explore the surging ICT sector, its sustainability challenges, and the power of ESG values to enhance reputation, competitiveness, and global impact.

The information and communications technology (ICT) sector has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, thanks in no small part to a kickstarted global expansion of semiconductor manufacturing.

With this rapid growth, an open door emerges for you as an organization or supplier. You have the chance to delve into the realm of sustainability within ICT and grasp how you can contribute to advancing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) values within the sector.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns and disruptions across the supply chain, the semiconductor market was unable to keep up with demand in a surging devices market.

Multi-billion-dollar investments made worldwide got production moving again, with the European Union giving €15 billion to public and private semiconductor projects as part of the European Chips Act.

Meanwhile, the US used its CHIPS and Science Act to free up $52 billion for government grants and incentives in homegrown semiconductor, solar panel and electric vehicle manufacturing.

The question of ICT sustainability

With the activation of such huge manufacturing projects, the challenge of sustainability in ICT becomes more and more pressing. Ensuring ICT sustainability is crucial for future generations.

The semiconductor manufacturing industry alone contributes a significant amount to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – reportedly exceeding 30% according to some studies – and demand for electronics is only growing.

Semiconductor manufacturing requires a large amount of both water and raw materials, the latter usually extracted through mining operations. Mining has had its challenges with environmental impact and unethical labour practices and, with such questions hanging over the supply chain, it's no surprise there’s a focus on ESG in ICT.

So, can sustainability in ICT become the norm, rather than a distant goal?

The importance of ESG in ICT

As it stands, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, an independent nonprofit working with Amnesty International and academic groups around the world, reports that the ICT hardware sector is failing to address the impact of its supply chain.

While leading organizations are reinforcing their commitment to human rights, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre noted that most were failing to fully consider the consequences of their purchasing practices on the supply chain. This raises concerns about due diligence and the amount of further effort needed when it comes to investing in ESG.

But what does ESG in ICT look like? It goes beyond integrating sustainability efforts with production operations – ICT sustainability requires responsibly sourced raw materials, the promotion of ethical labour practices and the tackling of social and environmental risks in the supply chain.

While there are many areas to consider, ESG in ICT can be a valuable way to build lasting sustainability in ICT product manufacturing and associated industries.

The benefits of sustainability in ICT

Embracing sustainability in ICT doesn't just have the potential to benefit the planet and society.

For your organization, a deeper understanding of ICT sustainability and ESG in ICT can enhance its reputation, bringing socially conscious partners into its orbit and providing a competitive edge in a market that is increasingly focused on sustainability.

By becoming purpose-driven organizations, the manufacturers of semiconductors and other ICT hardware can become global leaders of ESG in ICT.

With such a large demand on the market, the adoption of sustainability in ICT has the potential to have a huge impact on your organization, the future of the sector, and the world.