There seems to be unanimity among most experts that the two major drivers of global sustainable development and social change in the world today are technology and innovation. In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),established by the United Nations in 2015, is a call to action to nations to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity by 2030. In India, where rapid economic growth coincides with significant social and environmental challenges, there is a greater impetus for organisations to engage in sustainable practices.

Therefore, organisations are not only expected to clean up their act—reduce their carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions—but also play a critical role in helping the country achieve its ambitious decarbonisation goals like achieving net-zero by 2070.
In fact, the top global tech leaders like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple among others,too are aligning their business strategies to focus on sustainability goals.

Their combined technological prowess and global influence is focused on adopting circular economy principles and delivering solutions for real-world problems, thereby underscoring the commitment of the tech giants in contributing to a sustainable and inclusive future. A future defined by artificial intelligence, big data analytics, use of robotics will revolutionise and promote the cause of sustainable agricultural practices, prevent loss of biodiversity, including the mangrove forests and advance the cause of renewable and alternative energy sources.

Global impact through technology and corporates
The growing adoption of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria for investments is a true reflection of the corporate sector’s increased focus on sustainable practices. In fact, ESG assets are projected to exceed $53 trillion by 2025 globally, representing more than a third of the $140.5 trillion in projected total assets under management.
For India, with its diverse demography, a large population and a landscape dotted with people from different socio-economic conditions presents an ideal opportunity for social innovations.   Technologies, particularly those perfected by tech companies, has a potential to be a transformative force in addressing some of the challenges facing the country such as poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, and limited access to healthcare and education.
Indian corporations can take a head start in this direction by incorporating sustainability into their business models and investing in social innovation, which not only involves adopting environmentally friendly practices, while at the same time leveraging technology to address broader social issues.

The Need to Embrace Sustainability
Economic Growth and Competitive Advantage:
Embracing sustainable practices can reap many benefits. It can improve operational efficiencies, resulting in substantial cost savings and open new market opportunities, providing an early adopter advantage. Moreover, most global investors are looking at sustainable practices to make investments thereby improving fundraising opportunities. 

Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management:
Proactive engagement in sustainable practices positions companies as compilers of environmental regulations and mitigate potential risks associated with environmental degradation. Today, environmental risks, according to regulators, are considered the biggest risks for any corporation.

Reputation and Customer Engagement:
Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance brand reputation, social image and build stronger relationships with environmentally conscious consumers.

Employee Satisfaction and Talent Attraction:
Companies, which show a commitment towards sustainability and social responsibility are more appealing to potential employees, especially the younger generation, fostering a more engaged and motivated workforce. Such collective efforts by corporations can further reinforce India’s trajectory towards sustainability and set the stage for a future where responsible business practices and environmental stewardship become paramount.

Pathways for Tech Companies in India to Foster Social Innovation
Sustainability is only viable through shared responsibility. The key to achieving these goals and ensuring long-term success is to partner with other like-minded organizations, collaborate with the government and ESG institutions and have constant dialogue with communities and citizens. Making communities shareholders in a company’s growth story will increasingly become important as sustainability kicks in. There is a need to engage with the government, non-government organizations involved in sustainable activities, and local communities to understand challenges and develop critical solutions. Provide funding, handholding and mentorship to startups focused on sustainable solutions.

Incorporating Sustainability in Core Business Practices:
There is a need to move away from traditional supply chains to more sustainable supply chains, energy-efficient operations, and adopt responsible waste management.

Educating and Empowering Consumers:
Use different platforms to raise awareness, promote sustainable practices, and empower consumers to make informed choices. Government initiatives like Digital India have harnessed the power of technology to enhance governance and service delivery, significantly impacting education, healthcare, and financial inclusion. The Aadhaar project, for instance, has revolutionized service delivery, ensuring better targeting and reduced leakage in subsidy schemes.

The significance of technology in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be overstated. In India, where the potential for social impact is immense, tech companies and corporations have a unique opportunity and responsibility to drive this change towards a more sustainable future. By embracing sustainability and investing in social innovation, they can contribute not only to the global agenda of environment-friendly practices but also create a more resilient and inclusive society.

Accelerating sustainable development goals through technological innovation