The world no longer solely depends on company leaders’ goodwill to make sustainable change happen –new and stricter policies are forcing businesses into action. While each industry faces its particular challenges and opportunities, they all have some things in common — technology and people are key in designing collaboration for a green shift.
Only 9 years left to the SDG goals
Many companies have set a deadline to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030, aligned with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). One example of an industry facing the challenge of creating new, sustainable operating ways is the ports sector. Ports are good examples to use when it comes to ideating and discussing what is needed for green shifts to happen and designing for innovation that enables sustainable operations. It’s a heavily energy-dependent industry that needs to solve several problems related to infrastructure, energy supply, waste management, and other issues.
If we are to achieve genuine, significant change in industries, we need to map the existing ecosystems and their stakeholders and identify opportunities and shared interests to create common goals.Katja Egmose
Moreover, it exemplifies the complexity of a green shift — each port is different from the other. They differ in size. Some are global; some are locally oriented. Ports are also built of intricate ecosystems, with numerous stakeholders and separate organisations making up a network of players, Each with their interests, challenges, and concerns.
This brings us to the first important thing to consider when designing for greener industries:
1. Collaboration and partnerships are crucial
Genuinely sustainable solutions are inherently complex in the sense that they never work by themselves. Businesses and organizations never operate in a vacuum, regardless of being green or not. But when it comes to sustainability and circular economy, we must design for collaboration on a whole new level. To do this, you first need to understand the ambitions, challenges, and interdependent relations between stakeholders.
If we are to achieve genuine, significant change in industries, we need to map the existing ecosystems and their stakeholders and identify opportunities and shared interests to create common goals. For example, in a port, we need to include more stakeholders than the port itself. It’s vital that representatives from other companies and authorities operating in the port also get onboard. Having engaged stakeholders outside the core organization is contagious, and it can inspire others to join in.
2. Tech and digitalization enable sustainability
Technological advances and digitalization are enablers of sustainability, efficiency, and profit in all industries. While they’re not drivers of the green shift, they are necessary to make it happen. Digitalization is already advanced in many sectors, demonstrating the potential to reduce waste, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions.
Digitalization, electrification, and connectivity are helping make the green shift in the ports and maritime industries feasible. For example, for Danish ports to succeed on their decarbonization journey, they rely on substituting fossil fuels through electrification and redesigning their shore power.
3. People make change happen
Partnerships, collaboration, and technology are crucial to making the green shift happen. But without the engagement of individuals and a people-centric approach, we won’t reach the goal. Simply because organisations don’t consist of technology or agreements — they consist of people. And it is these people who execute and who use the technology, solutions, and ideas that we design. Hence, we must involve them in the process and design for — and with — them. Our solutions must be desirable to those who will use them. They must make their lives easier, smoother, and more convenient. Otherwise, people won’t use them, and we’ll be left with solutions that are perfect in theory but don’t work in practice.
Sustainability is profitable. Done right, it’s good for both businesses, people, and the planet.Katja Egmose
4. Policies drive the change
Lastly, of course, we need to embrace and applaud the public policies themselves. They are, at least in many sectors, the most substantial driver. Ports and maritime industries are heavily regulated, and we must welcome new ambitious sustainable policies and regulations. However, adhering to policy alone will not generate great business. We need to use policies as a basis to innovate on, to design for sustainable, profitable operations, and business. In our future labs, for example, we explore how trends, tech, and other important factors such as policies and regulations can contribute to more greener solutions.
Sustainability is profitable. Done right, it’s good for both businesses, people, and the planet. Ports are no exception, quite the opposite. The green shift, including decarbonization, that is happening in this sector, is a great example of this. It will benefit the ports and companies related to them by reducing energy consumption and costs in the long term. At the same time, it will contribute to a healthier work environment for people working in and out of ports, and a cleaner, less polluted planet.
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