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The EY Sustainability Matters podcast

Feb 2, 2024

In this episode of the EY Sustainability Matters Podcast, host Bruno Sarda discusses with Mary de Wysocki, Chief Sustainability Officer at Cisco, how companies can leverage technology for a more sustainable future.

The intersection between business, technology and sustainability is accelerating, with companies increasingly digitizing their operations. This can significantly reduce waste, energy and materials required to deliver products and services. However, de Wysocki warns that if digital transformation is not done in a sustainable manner, it could have a damaging effect on our planet due to the large energy needs of cloud service providers and data farms.

Companies need to integrate sustainability into their digital transformation strategies and harness the value of data to drive these initiatives. De Wysocki also emphasizes the importance of deploying emerging technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation responsibly, considering the social dimensions such as ethics, privacy information, security, digital equity and human rights.

Cisco is already embedding sustainability into its operations and moving towards a regenerative, green future. They have set three priorities in its environmental strategy - accelerating the transition to clean energy, evolving the business from linear to circular, and investing in resilient ecosystems. Cisco is also working on developing a data strategy to create consistent sustainability data across the enterprise, with rigorous reviews to ensure reliability and trust.

De Wysocki concludes by highlighting the importance of partnerships and collaboration for achieving sustainability goals and emphasizes the need for inclusivity and a healthy planet for future generations.

Key takeaways include:

  • Digital technologies, like AI and automation, have the potential to transform the environmental impact of companies, reducing waste and lowering energy use.
  • There are environmental impact risks posed by intensive energy users like the Information and Communications Technology sector and cloud service providers if not powered by clean energy.
  • Sustainability needs to be integral to business strategy, with an emphasis on a “regenerative future”.
  • Challenges include managing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing digital equity issues and appreciating the role of nature-based solutions in mitigating climate change. Companies should increase their commitment to transparency and accountability, and look to create partnerships in their value chain.

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