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How Cloud Technologies Can Drive Sustainability

Written by Tue 1 Nov 2022

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The cloud and cloud-enabled technologies present ‘wonderful’ opportunities for governments and businesses to achieve their development and sustainability goals, as well as the continued economic growth.

This is the proposal by the Asia Cloud Computing Association’s (ACCA) latest concept note, which was launched following panel discussions at the Cloud Expo Asia in October 2022.

The concept note highlights the important role of Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and cloud-enabled technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and edge computing in contributing to practical, actionable, and sustainable solutions for the Asia Pacific region.

“Our member CSPs have a range of tools and solutions that are responsive to the sustainability needs of the public and private sector,” said Brigitta Ratih E. Aryanti, Co-chair of ACCA Sustainability Working Group.

At present, the Asia Pacific region is home to nearly 60% of the world’s population, and simultaneously some of the world’s worst air pollution and other markers of environmental degradation.

“There are at least three roles to mention here. First, CSPs can help customers reduce their digital carbon footprint. Second, CSPs can help customers with ESG or carbon-related reporting requirements. And third, CSPs can help customers reduce the environmental impact of their business,” added Aryanti.

On top of calling for governments to prioritise twin goals of digital transformation and decarbonisation, the concept note outlines the following four key calls to action for governments and businesses.

1. The cloud computing industry in APAC must continue to demonstrate its commitment to minimising the carbon and environmental footprint of cloud infrastructure

ACCA members are committed to the EU’s Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, which strives to meet energy efficiency targets of 1.4 in warm climates and 1.3 in cool climates, 100% renewable energy, water conservation, and expand opportunities to reuse servers.

CSPs are some of the world’s leading purchasers of renewable energy solutions, including tools to track their carbon footprint.

2. Governments in APAC should enable corporate renewable energy investments and proactively seek to expand market options for renewable energy procurement

The APAC region is faced with challenges to renewable energy investments, including  the lack of renewable energy options and high costs.

The ACCA believes increasing market availability of renewable energy and corporate renewable energy investment options is a win-win-win by allowing CSPs to achieve sustainability goals and governments to address national climate targets without the need for taxpayers to bear additional costs.

3. Energy efficiency should be the highest-order priority for CSPs

While data capacity demands and Internet traffic is exponentially growing, it is fortunate that global energy consumption in data centres has remained almost flat since 2010, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. The ACCA believe this is due to large-scale investments in energy efficiency by data centre operations and CSPs.

In future, the ACCA encourages prioritisation of clear and effective cloud-first and cloud migration policies, stating that moving IT workloads to the cloud would immediately reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions by almost 80% across APAC, just from the associated energy efficiency increase alone.

4. The application of cloud computing can help governments and enterprises across APAC make progress towards their Sustainable Development Goal commitments

International Energy Agency regards cloud-enabled technologies as critical to accelerating systemic sustainability transformations at scale.

The ACCA suggests governments in APAC to support enterprises in their access to these technologies through public-private partnerships.

The impact of cloud technologies on sustainability

Cloud-enabled technologies are already playing a critical role in tackling Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all UN member states in 2015, including Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, and Affordable and Clean Energy.

The ACCA believes the opportunity for cloud technologies to support governments in meeting all 17 SDGs is significant and undeniable.

For example, use cases in the concept note illustrated that farmers in Thailand and Pakistan reported a 50% increase in yield and almost 40% rise in profitability after adopting cloud solutions, thus working towards eliminating world hunger.

Indonesia’s Halodoc leveraged behavioural insights from patient data stored and accessible on the cloud to connect millions of patients to 22,000 doctors and 1,000 partner pharmacies across the archipelago, making healthcare simpler and more accessible.

“It’s great to see leading enterprises adopting innovative technology, digital infrastructure and the cloud to drive a more sustainable digital economy in support of the UN SDGs,” said Jason Plamondon, Member of ACCA Sustainability Working Group.

To drive even greater sustainability in the future through cloud technology, the ACCA seeks to partner with policymakers and broader business stakeholders to make progress on their sustainable development goals and commitments.

Written by Tue 1 Nov 2022

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