Why scaling up tech innovations will save the planet
Technology is crucial in our battle against climate change and the consequent depletion of resources, pollution, and ecological degradation. It has become increasingly clear that we must use technology sustainably and deploy it more effectively.
The East Ventures Sustainability Report 2023 observes that the effects of climate change in Southeast Asia have driven urgency to addressing sustainability issues in sub-sectors of energy, food & agriculture, urban & mobility, waste management & circular economy, and carbon ecosystem. To meet the investment needs of green solutions in Southeast Asia, which amount to around US$3 trillion by 2030, there is a need for technological innovations as catalysts.
To celebrate World Environment Day 2023, East Ventures organized a webinar titled ‘Scaling up tech innovations for our planet’ on 12 June 2023. The event aimed to explore how scaling up technology can positively impact the planet and a business’ bottom line. It featured a lineup of esteemed speakers who shared their insights and expertise, such as Avina Sugiarto, Partner at East Ventures; Ute Sudmann, Senior Environmental and Social Expert & Vice President Sustainability at DEG; Leah Kaplan, APAC Solution Lead, Sustainability and Geospatial at Google Cloud; Eka Himawan, Managing Director at Xurya Daya Indonesia; and Seena Dabral, Associate Partner at ERM, as moderator.
Avina emphasized that East Ventures views technology as an enabler for inclusivity, better access, and affordability.
“Integrating ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and climate technology is not a simple switch-on process but a journey involving engaging consumers, communities, and businesses. At East Ventures, impact and ESG have always been ingrained in our DNA since our founding in 2009. We prioritize ESG risk management and consider impact just as important an output as financial returns,” said Avina.
All panelists noted there are still obstacles holding back companies from integrating ESG into their business. Sharing the lessons learned in navigating these obstacles, the discussion emphasized that scaling up tech innovations can exponentially benefit companies in the long-term by hedging against climate-related costs that are set to increase.
“Many companies focus too much on short-term objectives and quarterly figures, neglecting the long-term environmental aspects. We need to expand our perspective to include medium and short-term objectives to make real progress in environmental measures. It’s a misconception that sustainability is a nice-to-have or a competitive disadvantage. Scientific research shows that companies excelling in ESG-related matters are also more successful economically,” said Ute.
Like East Ventures, DEG encourages their investee companies to integrate ESG considerations from the start because developing professional structures and management systems will help businesses be more professional and profitable.
Xurya has witnessed firsthand the barriers faced by tech startups that stops them from incorporating ESG in their business practices. Xurya, a renewable energy company backed by East Ventures, enables companies to reduce their emissions by deploying solar panels on the rooftops of commercial and industrial (C&I) buildings.
“Renewable energy adoption and other climate change-reducing initiatives are still met with much hesitation from investors and consumers. Investors, consumers, and startups must remain committed to the long-term potential and recognize the benefits of scaling up climatetech innovations. While economic conditions may fluctuate, the technology and need for climate change solutions persist. So I urge investors, business owners, and other climate-tech startups to extend their outlook beyond short-term fluctuations,” said Eka.
“Sustainability is a team sport, and scalability is crucial. Technology, collaboration, and knowledge sharing are key to scaling up sustainability. The optimization opportunities that we see when engaging with customers are remarkable. When they focus on optimizing operations with technological innovations, energy usage and transportation footprint goes down, resulting in both financial and environmental benefits,” concluded Leah.
The recently released East Ventures Sustainability Report 2023 showcased East Ventures’ commitment to not only deliver strong financial returns but also to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the environment and society. East Ventures Sustainability Report 2023 also highlights East Ventures’ proactive measures towards climate action; with a section of “Spotlight on climate technology”, as well as the disclosure of the firm’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory as the concrete steps towards net-zero targets.
If you missed the ‘Scaling up tech innovations for our planet’ webinar by East Ventures, you can watch it below.