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Author's profile photo Tim Clark

SAP’s Sustainability Report: Say “Buh-Bye” to Green Washing and Tree Hugging

Even though I believe in building a more sustainable future, it comes with a healthy dose of skepticism. Let’s face it, with all of the amazing clean energy progress made with wind, solar and bio-fuels, there’s always major setbacks to spoil the party – like the lukewarm reception to the Chevy Volt for instance. Toss in accusations of green washing  and tree hugging against those who are trying to make a difference and it’s not hard to see that maybe the world isn’t ready to adopt sustainable best practices. Or is it? Whatever your take is, SAP’S Annual Sustainability Report (now in its fifth year) continues to add much needed clarity around these doubts and challenges.

Sustainability at the Heart of the Business

Because 65-70% of the world’s transactions run on SAP, the company is in the ideal position to nab an accurate pulse on global sustainability initiatives. So what’s the latest prognosis? According to Scott Bolick, Vice President, Sustainability Solution Management for SAP, the aforementioned “storming period” has actually been a good thing for companies. Here’s why, via Scott’s recent blog on Forbes, “Sustainability Now a Strategy, Not Just a Report”:

They are increasingly coalescing on a definition of sustainability that mirrors SAP’s definition – improving short- and long-term profitability by holistically managing economic, societal, and environmental factors. This definition puts sustainability in the heart of the business. Sustainability is seen as strategic lever for operational excellence and differentiation. These initiatives improve profitability by:

  • Driving revenue and competitive advantage by optimizing plants and rapidly developing compliant, sustainable products.
  • Lowering costs by driving down energy consumption and managing compliance effectively.
  • Reducing risks by gaining greater business continuity through risk identification and mitigation.

As many of you know, SAP is no slouch either when it comes to becoming a better steward of the planet.  In 2011, SAP continued to demonstrate its continued commitment to investment and improvement of its solutions, and also remained on track to reduce its carbon emissions to year-2000 levels by 2020 (while SAP’s actual emissions rose over 2010, reflecting growth in overall business, they still fell below the target for the year). And for the first time, SAP measured all of its scope 3 emissions, working closely to develop a new standard with the World Resources Institute.

Is there still a lot of work to be done? Of course. But sustainability is a journey and as the 2011 SAP Sustainability Report proves, a vast majority of companies are in it for the long haul.  That’s why there’s no better time than now to say “buh-bye” to the green washing and tree hugging naysayers.

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