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As Earth heats up, digital tech holds the key to a sustainable transition

Nov 07, 2023

[Shenzhen, China, November 7, 2023] This year has been the hottest on record since scientists began tracking global temperatures in 1880. But digital technology is playing a key role in helping society manage its transition to a more sustainable future – the topic explored in the #SustainableTransition issue of Transform, Huawei’s thought leadership magazine.

“We are like the frog that goes into the pot of water, and the fire’s turned on and the water gradually gets hotter,” said Ana Maria Hernandez Salgar, who until recently chaired the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a United Nations body established to strengthen the link between science and policymaking.

“The frog doesn't want to get out because the water’s comfortable – so the frog dies. Humanity is just like that.”

Hernandez notes that society is generally more conscious of the need to tackle climate change and biodiversity. “Nevertheless, there are still individuals, organizations and even political movements that continue to avoid seriously addressing the need for sustainability and the need for transformative change.”

Salgar shares the Transform cover with Jehiel Oliver, a former investment banker from Cleveland, Ohio and CEO of Hello Tractor, a company that uses digital tech to boost the productivity of African farmers.

This is crucial to Africa’s food supply, since agriculture makes up between 30% and 40% of Africa’s GDP.

“Tech can monitor and protect the equipment while making sure it’s in constant use,” says Oliver. “We embed tractors with GPS and sensors to capture various data points. We process that data in the cloud, and we’ve built algorithms to help tractor owners make sense of that data.”

Data also forms the backbone of technology developed by a Swiss company that’s helping agriculture become more sustainable by decoding the secret language of plants.

“Most people don’t know that plants use sophisticated networks based on electrical signals to gather and share information, says Carrol Plummer, Co-founder and CEO of Vivent SA.

“Vivent has developed hardware and software to record and transmit these signals continuously, monitoring crops around the clock so farmers can respond quickly to environmental stressors.

“By harnessing the power of advanced technologies such as IoT, data analytics, and smart systems, Vivent is helping farmers gain a deeper understanding of their crops. Among other benefits, our solutions enable efficient management of irrigation water, reduced environmental impacts from improper use of pesticides or fertilizers, and 24/7 crop health monitoring.” 

The latest interviews in the magazine and other thought leadership content can be found on the Transform web site.

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