Broadband is the "most important technology" today because of the transformation to society that it can bring, said Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Ericsson's SVP and Chief Sustainability Officer, at the launch of Ericsson's Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report at MWC 2017. Using the UN SDGs as a framework, the report highlights how the telecommunications industry can positively evolve through use of responsible business practices, reducing energy consumption through 5G, and providing internet for all.
"At Ericsson, we start with our commitment to responsible business which is to us the very foundation of the company," said Ms. Weidman-Grunewald at the press briefing. "We believe in making sure that our standards are high on an ethical level. We work a lot with anti-corruption, occupational work and safety, and responsible sourcing methods, to make sure that the entire value chain meets high ethical standards."
Ericsson's work with sustainability and corporate responsibility is as much about embracing opportunities as tackling global sustainability challenges, Ms. Weidman-Grunewald says in the new report. Ericsson uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to measure its impact on society. One of the most important initiatives Ms. Weidman-Grunewald spoke of to meet the UN SDGs was Ericsson's commitment to bringing internet to all through broadband.
"How will governments deliver education if it's not digital? How will you reach every child if we don't use internet and if we don't use the advantages of mobile broadband? Mobile broadband is the most important technology because of the transformation to society that it can bring," said Ms. Weidman-Grunewald.
When it comes to binging an additional 4 billion people online, Ms. Weidman-Grunewald strongly believes that broadband will be "instrumental" she says in the report. The fastest and most cost-effective way to do this, she says, is to enable cost efficiency upgrades from 2G to 3G and 4G. Ericsson advocates strongly on "how ICT can help shape more sustainable societies" and the company engages in "public-private partnerships to advance shared aims and vision," Ms. Weidman-Grunewald says.
In 2016, Ericsson launched a new suite of mobile broadband solutions for which total cost of ownership has been reduced by up to 40 percent. This makes investments in mobile broadband viable in markets where average revenue per use is low, helping to grow the reach of 3G and 4G and making the internet available to more people.
Ericsson's Technology for Good initiatives now positively impact 89 million people through programs like Connect To Learn and Ericsson Response, which Ms. Weidman-Grunewald leads. The Connect To Learn global education initiative has been launched in 23 countries and benefits more than 80,000 students.
In 2016, Ericsson made significant progress in its Connect To Learn project in Myanmar. 155 teachers from all 31 schools successfully completed the first stage of their training, which allows them to begin integrating ICT into their classroom teaching, and to use the internet to enrich the learning experience of students.
Connect To Learn is a public-private partnership that involves the use of ICT solutions to promote universal access to quality secondary education in developing countries. The project was largely made possible through a strategic partnership between Ericsson and the UK Department for International Development's (DFID) Girls' Education Challenge.
Ericsson and its coalition of partners for the Connect To Learn project leverage the strengths and contributions of each collaborator. For example, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) provides project funding, UNESCO provides teacher training and mobile technology-based educational programs on English language and life skills, and the Earth Institute manages the student stipend and school grant component, as well as conducting implementation research at the schools.
In addition, Finja Five provides child-friendly computing solutions, while EduEval Educational Consultancy conducts monitoring and evaluation. Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Qualcomm Wireless Reach initiative, also provides funding and the program utilizes mobile devices enabled by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Ms. Weidman-Grunewald says the method of delivering teachers ICT training content is more effective than simply delivering computers to a school that just sits there because nobody knows how to use them.
In order to attract more businesses in the industry to implement sustainable practices, it needs to be profitable, says Ms. Weidman-Grunewald. At the briefing she spoke of another report released in January called ‘Better Business, Better World' which puts into question the economic value of the UN SGDs. According to the report, if businesses look at areas such as clean energy, health, smart cities, etc, it could generate trillions of dollars.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) opens up $12 trillion of market opportunities in the four economic systems examined by members of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission: food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, as well as health and well-being. The ‘Better Business, Better World' report says these areas represent around 60 percent of the real economy and are critical to delivering the SDGs.
"To capture these opportunities in full, businesses need to pursue social and environmental sustainability as avidly as they pursue market share and shareholder value," the report says. "If a critical mass of companies joins us in doing this now, together we will become an unstoppable force. If they don't, the costs and uncertainty of unsustainable development could swell until there is no viable world in which to do business."
Ericsson's commitments to deliver superior energy performance include a strong focus on 5G, according to its report - a goal to dramatically reduce the use of diesel, and a commitment to ensure the Ericsson Radio System platform remains the most power-efficient on the market.
"We've made a commitment that our 5G systems will be ten times more energy efficient than our 4G systems by 2020," said Ms. Weidman-Grunewald. "It's a very big commitment, because when you think of our industry, there's more and more video, more and more growth with more and more things connected, so if we don't think about power consumption, it will continue to increase. We decided to break that trend and we will lead our industry to have greener telecommunications networks in the future."
PureSolar, a project completed with Telenor in Myanmar, involved the deployment of the world's first 500 watt solar-powered site. Within just one year of operation, the solar-powered site proved to be more economical than the diesel alternative. Ericsson says overall it has reduced CO2 emissions per employee by 45 percent by targeting business travel, product transportation and energy usage in its facilities.
Ms. Weidman-Grunewald also highlighted Ericsson's commitments to maintaining high standards for suppliers and taking a stand against slavery and human-trafficking. Ericsson manages the social environmental impacts of its supply chain as part of its "approach to embedding corporate responsibility" throughout its business practices, the report says.
"A new legislation in the UK for anti-slavery and anti-trafficking [UK Modern Slavery Act] has passed and we decided to implement this globally because we think it's the right thing to do," said Ms. Weidman-Grunewald. "It's a commitment where we make sure that in our supply chain we will actively work to make sure that we're using suppliers and labor according to protecting people's dignity and rights."
In 2016, Ericsson made its first Statement on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking for the Ericsson Group, in which it says Ericsson has a zero-tolerance approach to corruption, and a significantly strengthened anti-corruption program. For its third year in a row, Ericsson has reported according to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights reporting framework - and remains the only ICT company to do so, according to the report.