Lucile Vannier is a sustainable digital expert in the BPCE group. She is a Strategy Deputy Director at INR, an Institute for Sustainability. In this article, Lucile discusses sustainability in the digital sector.
Because of climate change, there are more natural disasters, and they are getting stronger with greater adverse impacts. It’s not too late, we can limit the effects of climate change, and everyone can help.
Climate change is a concern for half of the people across the globe. In France, 87% of the French people are aware that they are living in a real ecological crisis. 64% approved the idea that we have to change our ways. But at the same time, 77% of the French people were not aware of digital pollution and needed to be made aware of it.
Digital technology is a great tool, but it is worrying. We have some very worrying data.
- 7% to 10% of global electricity is consumed by the Internet only. In a worst-case scenario, ICT could use as much as 51% of global electricity.
- In 2025, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes.
- We need 800 kilograms of raw materials to produce only one 2 Kgs computer.
The earth, oceans, and space are full of garbage because of our use of technology.
If we think that the main impact is because of data centers, it is not the case. There are 67 million data centers, but we use approximately 4.4 billion devices. So, the main impact is on the users and their devices.
There is an adverse societal impact as well. In France, the average age of children having a mobile phone is nine years and nine months. There are risks related to digital screen time, psycho-social risk, attention deficit, addiction, burnout, dissociation, cyberbullying, reading, obesity, and blindness. In France, 19% of the French population is excluded from digital accessibility. 50% of women leave the tech after eight years of work. 64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.
Recommendations for improvements
Improve the life duration of your devices. You can aim to ERC (Eliminate, Reduce, Contribute). To eliminate, consider 3U – Useful, Usable, and Used. So, if a service is not useful or usable or used, you can delete it or eliminate using it.
Calculate your digital impact. Educate yourself by learning good practices, listening to good podcasts, and reading relevant material. Please don’t keep your learnings to yourself; share them with others in your group.
Helping your organization. As a case study, let us consider the BPCE group. We have 100,000 employees, and we have 36 million customers. In 2021, we launched a new strategic plan with three key priorities – winning spirit, customer, and climate.
- Firstly, when we began, we educated ourselves and got certified online. We then created documents for our employees.
- Then we created and validated our strategic plan. We have proposed different programs to limit the impact of equipment manufacturing as it caused the most impact. We chose to work on equipment lifecycle and suitability software by design.
- To limit the impact of the use of devices and the impact of a network, we have to work on sustainability software by design.
- We have also launched a program for education, training, and communication.
When you build your team, soft skills play an important role. Because it is about a transformation and a change of mentality, it is better to be open-minded, transparent, kind, and caring to the people and their ideas. If you have strong values, ethics, inclusiveness, a sense of community, and are ecologically friendly, it’s better as it is difficult to learn the ability to explain, display flexibility, and negotiate with diplomacy.