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Why sustainability matters more than ever

Aug 26, 2020 By Dr. Bing Hongyan

The Earth is made up of 7.5 billion people, but only half the world has access to digital technology and its benefits. To ensure that everyone can enjoy the same digital rights, Huawei is committed to helping close this digital divide by finding new ways to empower the unempowered. 

Gary Nugent

Gary Nugent, CEO, Informa Tech

A key part of the global drive to closing the divide is through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the UN set out in 2015. The SDGs comprise 17 goals that form a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" by 2030. It’s estimated that the US$12 trillion investment required to achieve the SDGs will help lift 100s of millions out of poverty to live better, more equal, and healthier lives.

Leaders in international development agree that digital literacy is an essential component to each of the 17 SDGs, and that one of the most impactful ways to open up opportunities to people throughout the world is through digital inclusion. Informa Tech is no exception. Established under Informa Group in early 2019, Informa Tech connects, educates, and informs the global technology community through research, media, training, and events, with the aim of inspiring technologists to build a better world. In 2019 and through the first half of 2020, we held a series of talks with the Informa Tech CEO Gary Nugent on sustainability.

WinWin: What is Informa Tech’s sustainability strategy?

Gary Nugent: A better world is more often than not a sustainable world, and therefore sustainability is an integral part of everything we do – whether it’s how we drive digital inclusion; manage our environmental and societal impact; change the face of our industry in terms of diversity and inclusion; or catalyze the “tech for good” movement in areas such as diversity, social mobility, last-mile connectivity, new business startups, resource scarcity, talent development, well-being, health, and climate change. 

When it comes to sustainability and sustainable business, Informa runs a FasterForward initiative, which commits us to a series of activities between 2020 and 2025. We believe that the key to progress is measurement – our FasterForward strategy commits us to moving faster to achieve net zero carbon and zero waste, embed sustainability in every one of our brands, and multiply the positive impact that our products and operations have globally. 

WinWin: What progress have you made over the last decade in sustainability?

Nugent: A huge part of our mandate is to drive digital inclusion by connecting people to knowledge. We host events and provide research, training, and media to technology communities and technologists around the world. 

Events

To name a few: Black Hat – held in both the US and Asia – is one of the largest communities of information security professionals. AfricaCom, which focuses on economic empowerment and social mobility through digital technology, is the largest education and networking event for telecoms, media, and tech professionals on the continent. Omdia, our recently launched research brand that brings together all our analyst expertise into one team, is helping our community build deep insights and connect the dots across the industry. London Tech Week has become the seminal meeting of the best and brightest minds in the digital and related industries to explore the possibilities of a digital-first world, with huge support from government and industry. We also plan to bring this format to other parts of the world in the future.

Diversity

In Informa Tech, we’ve achieved 50/50 gender representation across our management levels. Through our joint venture with Founders Forum, we run a number of programs, including AccelerateHER, which focuses on addressing the underrepresentation of women in tech, championing trailblazers in promoting gender equality, and upsetting tired stereotypes. This year we’ve also partnered with ColourinTech to launching Black Tech Fest in October to help raise the voice and representation of people of color in our industry.

Environment

We’re embedding the FasterForward fundamentals into all our events to significantly reduce our environmental impact in every aspect – obviously COVID-19 has seen the majority of our events go virtual this year, and we view this format as an integral part of our events’ portfolio going forward. There’s always more that we can do, but we’re making solid progress – we incorporate impactful and sustainable business practices in the work of our colleagues every day.

WinWin: What’s your plan for the next few years?

Nugent: At Informa, we’re committed to becoming carbon neutral as a business and also across our products by 2025. We pledge to halve the waste generated by our products and events by 2025, and become zero waste and net zero carbon by 2030, or earlier. We believe these are ambitious but achievable targets, as we’re continuing to focus on energy efficiency in our operations and supply chain, particularly by engaging with partners such as venues, stand contractors, and digital providers. Where possible, we hope to explore how these initiatives can also create cost savings that can be reinvested into the business’s overall environmental performance. 

We achieved our first step in this program in 2020 when our business operations were externally certified as CarbonNeutral®, and we’re now working to extend this to our products and events.

WinWin: What are your thoughts on our TECH4ALL initiative?

Nugent: We love it. Huawei’s TECH4ALL centers on developing digital inclusion and empowerment initiatives with measureable outcomes “to leave no one behind”. One of its many goals is to help accelerate the UN’s SDGs. Huawei has done a very good job at identifying powerful use cases that our community can emotionally connect with. You’re also demonstrating how relatively simple and easy it is for the technology we see and use around us every day to play a role in building a better digital world and how it doesn’t have to be rocket science – all aspects of tech can be turned into a tool for good. Where Huawei has its TECH4ALL initiative, we have our FasterForward initiative. Informa Tech’s purpose to “inspire the technology community to create a better world”, and both really focus on sustainability across the industry. It's really good to see such high alignment between the broader goals of Huawei and Informa Tech.

WinWin: What benefits can technology bring to digital inclusion?

Nugent: The communications network is the foundation for how people collaborate, share knowledge, learning, and experience. The ability to connect everybody on this planet to access knowledge, people, and information is incredibly powerful. It’s a great leveler that drives social and economic equality. 

Of course in creating a network, security is paramount to ensure the protection of data, privacy, and personal freedom. In a world of open communications and collaboration, how we ensure a secure and safe environment is fundamental.

I think the other key technology that can bring benefits to digital inclusion is AI. AI is driving change at a faster pace than we’ve ever seen before and this is enabling global inclusion – accelerating growth for emerging markets and emerging economies. The sort of progress that it took the western world 50 years to achieve can now be achieved in 5 or 10 years and occur anywhere in the world. 

WinWin: Could you tell us more about how you will drive your FasterForward approach?  

Nugent: We’ve created 12 fundamental rules for sustainability across our events business, which we can track and measure with a view to increasing targets and criteria annually. One of the fundamentals focuses on how we embed sustainability into our core business by creating programs to drive inclusion or sustainable development across our community and help customers progress on key SDG topics.

By embedding sustainability inside every one of our brands, we aim to help our customers accelerate sustainable development in their specialist markets. We have many exciting initiatives in place, like AccelerateHER, Tech for Good, and our partnership with ColourinTech. We’ve been focusing on how to bring more diversity into the ICT industry and on supporting the development of women and people of color to create a much more balanced picture, which we think is essential for the prosperity of the industry moving forward.

Environmental sustainability is also very high on our agenda, which is highly aligned to Huawei’s mission of reducing carbon emissions and recycling and renewing in the supply chain. Huawei highlights the use of renewable power as key, and we’re also committed to rolling out renewable power throughout our events business to become carbon neutral and zero waste by 2030. 

WinWin: What are Informa Tech’s expectations of working with Huawei?

Nugent: We like to do business with companies that align to our cultural values and share common goals when it comes to responsible and sustainable development. Our expectations are of mutual respect and the aspiration of friendship. A long and successful partnership of course relies on shared objectives and shared ethical and moral principles. I’m impressed by Huawei’s commitment to inclusion through its TECH4ALL initiative. One of the things that struck me and which has always struck me from past conversations with Huawei is how aligned our visions are – not just in terms of the areas of technology we focus on, but also in terms of the role information technology plays in creating a better world for everybody to live in.