In 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) unilaterally agreed upon a charter dedicated and committed to sustainable development for the people in the ASEAN community. Setting a goal for 2025, this very same charter looked towards an ASEAN Community Vision, which emphasised a regional focus on environmental protection for the present and future. Understanding the risks of climate change and its impending consequences, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 was geared towards adapting and responding to climate change threats while furthering progress in green technology and development.
Fast forward to the present day, and sustainability remains a crucial goal above all other current topics. Never too far from the zeitgeist of concerns, the need for stronger sustainable practices is everpresent. Chief among the focus sectors outlined by the ASEAN Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance are industries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing. It stands to reason that these industries, with their heavy interaction with the natural environment, possess the most impact when it comes to sustainable practices. Yet, not far behind, the idea of scientific and technical processes is crucial to enabling sustainable practices within these focus industries.
Technology that drives sustainability – a role suited particularly for hard tech.
Hard tech refers to any tech solutions or inventions produced to change how the world looks at a situation. Usually consisting of huge investments with a massive risk profile, these solutions aren’t meant to be mass-market profitable but rather to revolutionise the way humankind approaches typical concepts. An example of hard tech can be seen in Elon Musk’s company Tesla and its heavy push toward electric self-driving cars, which aim to reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The difference between hard tech and its counterpart, soft tech, is that the latter focuses purely on profit. The intent is clear – developers and startups shoot for a strong brand while maximising their user base, ultimately selling the company for a profit after a market evaluation is completed.
On the other hand, hard tech has a far nobler goal in mind, with profits taking a backseat. hese solutions go beyond sustainable examples such as Green Computing, a process-based approach designed to limit the harmful effects of manufacturing tech components. While Green Computing understands that every aspect of modern technology carries a carbon price tag and tries to reduce it, hard tech is a systemic approach aimed at overhauling tech entirely.
Technology’s contribution to sustainability in the ASEAN region cannot be ignored in the ASEAN region. Unlocking opportunities for ESG investments, contributions, and assets in groundbreaking technology geared towards mitigating the impact of climate change is estimated to pass 53 trillion USD by 2025. These investments go a long way towards funding big-budget overhauls and building infrastructure for green initiatives such as renewable energy.
Furthermore, ASEAN’s internet penetration rate currently stands at a whopping 69%, and experts estimate that additional data centres will be needed to keep up with the rapid demand. Innovative green technologies such as Green Data Centres offer a value proposition in which sustainable growth can be achieved. Through solar power deployment and thermal hybrid air conditioning, Green Data Centres reduce potential carbon emissions while achieving the same operational efficiency.
Through a four-stage process, technology also helps speed up the journey towards net-zero emissions. It all starts with process optimisation, where cloud-based data and digital platforms drive decision making, to carbon data transparency, which provides system-wide visibility to drive sustainable choices and behaviour. These two stages offer pertinent and valid information that would be otherwise unobtainable, to help major organisations make eco-conscious decisions. The following two stages of circular products and services, as well as data ecosystems and ventures, incentivise action amongst stakeholders and consumers to ensure their buy-in towards a greener future.
Now more than ever, businesses and investors ought to pay attention to ESG factors and make investment decisions accordingly. The underlying key lies in sustainability, whether for more robust long-term returns or a greener tomorrow.