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IT Sustainability Think Tank: Navigating towards a greener future for IT in 2024

As we approach the dawn of 2024, the intersection of sustainability and innovation within the IT sector demands a proactive approach from decision makers. The milestones of 2023, marked by progress and challenges, set the stage for a pivotal year ahead.

Here, are some key priorities and resolutions that IT decision makers should consider to enhance the sustainability of their operations and contribute to a more sustainable business landscape.

Scaling responsible consumption

Advocating for a shift towards a circular economy is a resolution that holds immense potential for 2024. Decision makers should explore and implement models that emphasise reuse, repair, and recycle.

This involves rethinking product design, encouraging the refurbishment of electronic devices, and establishing take-back programmes.

Scaling a circular economy globally requires collaboration with stakeholders across the supply chain. IT leaders should resolve to initiate and participate in industry-wide initiatives that promote responsible consumption, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Datacentres lag in circular economy practices

When it comes to datacentres, the circular economy approach is notably lacking. In the procurement process, decision makers should focus on sourcing equipment with recyclability and reusability in mind. Moreover, the entire infrastructure of datacentres should be designed with a circular economy perspective, ensuring that materials can be repurposed or recycled at the end of their life cycle.

Datacentres, known for their high water consumption, should also adopt sustainable water management practices, emphasising circular principles in water usage and treatment. Responsible water consumption is integral to achieving a truly circular and sustainable datacentre ecosystem.

Additionally, extending the life, refurbishment, remanufacture, and recycling of equipment within datacentres must be prioritised. Often, hardware is prematurely replaced, contributing to e-waste.

Decision makers should implement policies that encourage the responsible use and maintenance of equipment, exploring options such as refurbishing and remanufacturing to extend their operational life.

Confronting the e-waste challenge

The e-waste crisis demands urgent attention in the coming year. IT decision-makers should resolve to go beyond preliminary steps and adopt comprehensive strategies for managing electronic waste. This includes promoting device longevity, enhancing repairability, promoting right-to-repair and embracing modularity in design. Establishing partnerships with e-waste recycling facilities and incentivising responsible disposal practices should be at the forefront of the agenda. By taking bold steps in e-waste management, IT leaders can set an example for the entire industry.

Aligning with regulations and consumer values

As regulatory compliance dances with the shifting sands of economic priorities, decision makers must adeptly navigate the delicate balance between meeting regulations and aligning with consumer sentiments. Acknowledging the economic pressures, it becomes imperative to communicate sustainability efforts transparently, emphasising how these initiatives not only comply with regulations but also resonate with consumer values. Such communication becomes a strategic imperative in a landscape where ESG priorities have, for some slipped to the third position in year 2023.

Transformative supplier partnerships

The faint green shoots indicating a shift in vendor relationships observed in 2023 should blossom into full-fledged partnerships in 2024. IT decision makers should resolve to scrutinise supplier practices more thoroughly, seeking partners who not only talk about sustainability but demonstrate genuine dedication through consistent and impactful action.

The emphasis should be on fostering a network of suppliers who share a commitment to green practices. Collaboration with vendors in developing and adhering to sustainability benchmarks can be a game-changer in achieving industry-wide eco-friendly standards.

Green cloud computing and genuine decentralisation

The resolution to further the cause of green cloud computing remains crucial in 2024. Decision makers should distinguish between authentic green initiatives and profit-driven endeavours as the footprint of cloud computing expands.

Genuine decentralisation, bringing datacentres closer to end-users, should be prioritised to reduce energy consumption. IT leaders must scrutinise cloud service providers for their commitment to environmental improvements and make informed decisions that align with the overarching goal of sustainability.

Recalibrating artificial intelligence (AI) for improved sustainability

The transformative potential of AI for sustainability is evident, but decision makers must resolve to recalibrate AI use cases to actively address the climate crisis. Redirecting AI operations towards a net-zero vision and aligning its functionalities with sustainability goals should be a priority.

Decision makers should invest in research and development to make AI not just a part of the problem but a crucial element of the solution to global energy challenges.

Sustainability as an investment

Rethinking the sustainability narrative is a resolution that transcends operational aspects. Decision-makers should actively work towards shifting the perception of sustainability from a mere operational expense to a crucial investment. This involves internal culture shifts, where sustainability is integrated into the core values of the organisation. The speed of this change, resonating within enterprises and influencing consumers, will undeniably shape the future narrative of IT sustainability.

A collective commitment to a sustainable horizon

As we step into 2024, the resolutions outlined above represent a roadmap for IT decision-makers to navigate a precarious path towards a sustainable digital future. Each resolution reflects not only a commitment to environmental stewardship but also a recognition of the pivotal role that the IT industry plays in shaping a sustainable global landscape.

The canvas is ready, and it is up to decision-makers to paint a future where sustainability goes beyond being a mere catchphrase and becomes an intrinsic and practical guiding philosophy.


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