News |
July 3, 2023

Harnessing AI for Corporate Sustainability

3 Min. Read
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The global AI (artificial intelligence) market is growing at an unprecedented pace, the total value approaching 200 billion USD as of the last months of 2023. That is an approximate growth of 50% compared to 2022. As the market continues to grow, AI emerges as a transformative force, offering unprecedented opportunities to enhance Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) management. In the ever-evolving field of corporate sustainability, AI might be an ally to organisations in reducing their environmental footprint, fostering social responsibility, and ensuring robust governance practices.

AI Opportunities Related to ESG Management

Since the early 2000s, dedication to data collection spurred across sectors, hoping to make sense of the collected data for better sales or more effective processes. Data has also become a vital part of sustainability strategies, as many regulations on the issue have come into practice in recent years. One of the areas AI might come into play is processing these large data sets into meaningful pieces for ESG management. By leveraging AI-powered analytics, companies can gain deeper visibility into their operations, supply chains, and stakeholder interactions, enabling them to make informed decisions that drive sustainability outcomes. Empowered by advancements in machine learning, businesses can now also compare the findings of their data in relation to the most recent legislations and regulations. 

Another contribution by AI could be its predictive modelling aspect. From energy consumption to waste generation, AI can realise the trends in this data and empower businesses to anticipate sustainability risks, forecast future performance, and identify areas of improvement. Moreover, if the businesses invest in IoT devices such as smart sensors, AI can drive automation in many fields of production.

Beyond operational efficiencies, AI can provide an opportunity to engage more with the relevant stakeholders. From chatbots on company websites to feedback collection tools, AI may open the doors of transparent feedback loops with stakeholders. When it comes to employee engagement, MIT suggests an increased use of AI tools in setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for teams especially in relation to their sustainability goals. 

Risks and Challenges

Despite the exciting opportunities presented by the use of AI for corporate sustainability, there are also risks related to ESG sustainability. One of the most obvious risks is the potentially increased carbon emissions due to the use of large data and servers. One risk on the social sustainability front could be the potential biases AI may hold, especially against the vulnerable communities. When it comes to governance, there is always the issue of AI governance. In itself, none of the AI tools are 100% self-managing meaning they would also require regular maintenance in order to work efficiently. 

Mitigating these risks necessitates a multidisciplinary approach that integrates ethical considerations, regulatory frameworks, technological safeguards, and stakeholder engagement. By proactively identifying and addressing risks, organisations can harness the transformative potential of AI to advance sustainability goals while upholding ethical principles and societal values.

In conclusion, AI holds immense promise in reshaping corporate sustainability practices and advancing ESG management. By harnessing AI-driven technologies, businesses can unlock new insights, optimise operations, and drive innovation across environmental, social, and governance dimensions.