Tech for Good: Sustainable Social Development with ICT

A Message from the Chairman of the Corporate Sustainable Development Committee

In 2020, Huawei faced challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and heightened geopolitical tensions. Nonetheless, we continued to do our part for the world with our ICT solutions: We supplied technology that helped fight the pandemic, helped people get back to work, and ensured that communications networks continued to function.

We believe in the power of ICT to provide fresh solutions to the problems we all face. We want to create technologies that make lives better, businesses more intelligent, and society more inclusive – technologies that will ultimately bring us closer to a fully connected, intelligent world.

Technology for a digital world that leaves no one behind

Over the past 30 years, the rapid evolution of information technology has profoundly changed the world. It has made our lives easier, and our work more efficient. However, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), nearly half of the world's population, mostly in rural areas, still does not have access to the  Internet. Though they are living in the digital age, they are unable to benefit from digital technology and the opportunities that it provides.

To support more balanced social development, Huawei launched the RuralStar Pro solution, which provides voice and mobile broadband services for sparsely populated remote villages, and helps rural regions go digital. Our RuralStar series solutions now provide mobile Internet services for more than 50 million people in remote areas across over 60 countries and regions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained global education and healthcare systems in a way we have never seen before. Nearly one billion students have had their schooling interrupted and more than 100 million people have been infected by COVID-19. Equal access to education and healthcare resources has become more important than ever.

Huawei has been playing its part in the fight against the pandemic. We have provided people across different regions with equal access to quality education and healthcare resources using our innovative ICT solutions. In 2020, we launched the Huawei ICT Academy Program 2.0, through which we cooperate with universities worldwide with the aim of training two million ICT professionals over the next five years. We also used ICT to assist the pandemic response in local communities. Huawei provided technical assistance to nearly 90 countries last year, doing our best to support local communities in this time of great need.

To provide universal access to digital technologies and applications, Huawei smartphones provide 15 accessibility functions that help users make use of their phones in many different ways. These functions include StorySign, a sign language reading app developed for hearing-impaired children; PocketVision, a vision aid device developed for the visually impaired; and Simple Mode, specifically designed for older people. These accessibility functions are used by about 10 million people every month, allowing them to enjoy a smart lifestyle.

Technology for security and trustworthiness

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and how organizations operate. Cloud offices, online education, and contactless shopping have become the new normal. As digital transformation picks up pace, our responsibilities for defending cyber security and privacy are getting heavier. Cyber security and privacy protection remain the top priorities for Huawei. We believe that technology should be people-centric. Technology should serve people in a manner that fully respects their rights by guaranteeing informed choice and consent.

Huawei has established and will constantly optimize a sustainable and reliable end-to-end global cyber security assurance system. This is a crucial strategy for Huawei. This system covers everything from corporate policies and organizational structure to business processes, technology, and standardized practices. We have made security assurance part of our business processes relating to R&D, supply chains, sales and marketing, delivery, and technical services. Such integration is a fundamental requirement of our quality management system, and has been effectively implemented through management regulations and technical specifications. Huawei's security management system has been certified to BS 7799-2/ISO 27001 since 2004.

Huawei takes privacy protection seriously. We comply with the privacy protection laws and regulations of all the countries and regions where we operate. We have built a management system for end-to-end privacy protection with strong supporting technical expertise. In addition, we continue to invest in and optimize our efforts to ensure the rights of data subjects are respected, which include our prompt and effective handling of more than 20,000 data subject requests to date. We continue to conduct internal and external audits in different countries and business domains to ensure our personal privacy protection policies are effectively implemented. We have also signed data processing agreements with more than 5,000 suppliers and performed extensive due diligence on their data processing.

Over the past year, despite the pandemic and Huawei being on the Entity List, we continued to work with our customers to support the stable operations of more than 1,500 networks in over 170 countries and regions, giving users reliable access to ICT services anytime, anywhere. As part of our commitment to shared success, we continued to work with our partners and ensured that Huawei was able to continue to deliver what customers required.

Technology for a better planet

Technology does not have to harm nature – the two can work in harmony. ICT can bring economic prosperity while making the world a better place. This is a commitment that we have always honored and will continue to honor.

Huawei is committed to providing leading and green products and solutions that meet customer needs and help cut carbon emissions. We assess the carbon footprints of our own equipment using the lifecycle assessment methodology and minimize our energy consumption at every phase of each product's lifecycle to provide green connectivity. Huawei's NetEngine routers, for example, consume 26–50% less energy than comparable products available in the market. To reduce our use of natural resources and contribute to a circular economy, we maximize the use of resources at every step of each product's lifecycle, from product design and packaging, to use, repair, and recycling, and provide consumers with quality, eco-friendly, and durable products.

As part of our commitment to green operations, we take technical and managerial measures to save energy, and use renewable and clean energy as much as possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on our campuses. In 2020, 220 million kWh of the electricity we used in China came from renewable energy sources. That's equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by about 188,000 tons. Huawei's CO2 emissions per million RMB of sales revenue in 2020 showed a 33.2% reduction compared to the base year (2012), meaning that we beat the target we set in 2016. 

We also work with our partners up and down the value chain to build a greener supply chain. 93 of our top 100 suppliers have set their carbon emissions reduction targets and implemented related projects. In 2020, total carbon emissions by our suppliers generated in the course of working with Huawei were down 300,000 tons compared with 2019. Together with our partners, we are using digital technology to help 22 protected areas in 18 countries manage resources and protect biodiversity and nature more efficiently.

In 2020, the global environmental non-profit CDP scored more than 5,800 companies for their efforts to tackle climate change, and Huawei was one of the few companies that were recognized with a prestigious 'A' score for our actions to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy. 

Technology for the benefit of society

In addition to creating more business value for our customers, Huawei recognizes the importance of creating social value for all stakeholders. We believe that technology ultimately benefits humanity, and that digital technology will accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and make our world a better place.

We care about our employees and put their safety first. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we took a number of steps to ensure our employees' health and safety. We set up a dedicated team for COVID-19 prevention and control, and shipped more than 620 batches of protective equipment to Huawei subsidiaries in over 120 countries and regions.

We value diversity and inclusion, and want to bring together bright minds from across the globe. We are working to make Huawei an attractive platform where outstanding people can create and share value together. Huawei has employees from 162 countries and regions. In 2020 alone, we made more than 3,400 local hires in our offices outside China, and local hires made up 69% of our overseas workforce.

We conduct business with integrity, adhere to standard business ethics, and require all employees to comply with our Business Conduct Guidelines. We work openly and proactively with stakeholders including customers, partners, and government regulators to foster mutual understanding and trust. Through our ongoing compliance efforts, we continue to win the respect and recognition of governments and partners around the world.

Sustainability plays a vital role in our procurement strategy and is regularly assessed in our supplier management process, from supplier qualification and selection to performance appraisals and day-to-day management. As part of our efforts to fight COVID-19, in 2020 we added pandemic precautions to the CSR requirements for our suppliers, and we helped suppliers purchase necessary supplies.

Huawei is an active, productive member of the communities where we operate. We work with governments, customers, and non-profit organizations to benefit and support local communities. In 2020, Huawei organized more than 650 charitable activities around the world. We stood with local communities through thick and thin, whether facing the outbreak of COVID-19 or supporting long-term projects like fostering digital skills.

In the post-pandemic era, technology is well poised to play an even greater role in supporting sustainable social development. Technology is a force for good; if we combine our efforts, it will take us far. Let's work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Tao Jingwen

Board Member and Chairman of the CSD Committee