Big data is everywhere, and all sorts of businesses, non-profits, governments and other groups use it to improve their understanding of certain topics and improve their practices. Big data is quite a buzzword, but its definition is relatively straightforward — it refers to any data that is high-volume, gets collected frequently or covers a wide variety of topics. If you want to learn big data and data science then you can take data science courses that are offered by Intellipaat.
This kind of data when organized and analyzed adequately can be quite valuable. Marketing teams use it to learn more about their customer base, healthcare professionals can use it to calculate someone’s chance of contracting a disease like Covid-19, and cities can use it to optimize traffic flow, and it can also help in saving wildlife.
Big data also has the potential to help significantly improve the quality of life for much of the world’s population. The United Nations, governments, not-for-profits and other groups are using big data to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals or SDGs — a set of 17 targets related to protecting the natural environment, reducing inequality, improving health outcomes and other things that will make life better around the world.
How Can We Use Big Data to Achieve SDGs?
There are many ways in which we could use data to improve our understanding of our progress towards the SDGs, determine how best to meet those targets and ensure accountability. The United Nations has set up a task team to explore how to use big data to help achieve the SDGs. A survey by the task team found that big data projects most frequently focused on the “no poverty” goal and that mobile phone data was the most common data source.
Pulse Lab Jakarta, a joint effort between the United Nations and the government of Indonesia, is working on various big data projects related to the SDGs. One of their projects is the Vulnerability Analysis Monitoring Platform for Impact of Regional Events (VAMPIRE) platform, which analyzes satellite imagery and creates maps that incorporate anomalies related to climate and rainfall to help track slow-onset climate changes.
Another project, the Manitoba Bioeconomy Atlas, comes from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and involves that creation of a web-based spatial inventory of biomass sources. Biomass producers can use the data to optimally locate biomass refineries, and biomass consumers can use it to source biomass and calculate costs.
There are many other potential uses for big data related to the SDGs. Mobile phone data, for instance, could be used to track the movement of populations, such as refugees, to improve preparations. Data analysis could help predict changes in food prices. The possibilities are virtually endless.
What Are the Challenges and Risks?
The opportunities related to big data are plentiful, but there are also numerous challenges and risks. Collecting, storing and analyzing large amounts of data is in itself challenging. It requires advanced technology and infrastructure, which can be expensive. This limits the access of less developed countries to this technology. In the survey by the UN’s bid data task team, the team received much higher response rates from high-income countries than lower-income ones.
Privacy is another significant concern. It’s essential that those processing respect the rights of those they collect data from. The fact that much data is collected passively can complicate this. Even removing sensitive information from data sets may not always be enough to guarantee privacy, since people could be identified by combining information from multiple data sets. Those handling personal data need to take steps to protect subjects’ privacy.
The UN, through several of its groups, has issued recommendations and guidelines for the use of big data related to SDGs. Among the goals of these guidelines is ensuring privacy and increasing access to data worldwide. The private and public sectors, as well as countries and organizations from around the world, will have to work together to accomplish the UN’s SDGs and to ensure that we can take full advantage of the benefits big data and machine learning can provide related to achieving them.
There is a strong link between the serious humanitarian situation of refugees and lack of access to sustainable energy resources. According to a 2019 UNCHR report, there are more than 80 million displaced people around the world, the highest level of human displacement ever documented. Access to clean and affordable energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development of mankind, and refugees are no exception. Needless to say, almost all refugee camps are plagued by fuel poverty and urgent measure are required to make camps livable.
Usually the tragedy of displaced people doesn’t end at the refugee camp, rather it is a continuous exercise where securing clean, affordable and sustainable energy is a major concern. Although humanitarian agencies are providing food like grains, rice and wheat; yet food must be cooked before serving.
Severe lack of modern cook stoves and access to clean fuel is a daily struggle for displaced people around the world. This article will shed some light on the current situation of energy access challenges being faced by displaced people in refugee camps.
Why Energy Access Matters?
Energy is the lifeline of our modern society and an enabler for economic development and advancement. Without safe and reliable access to energy, it is really difficult to meet basic human needs.
Energy access is a challenge that touches every aspect of the lives of refugees and negatively impacts health, limits educational and economic opportunities, degrades the environment and promotes gender discrimination issues. Lack of energy access in refugee camps areas leads to energy poverty and worsen humanitarian conditions for vulnerable communities and groups.
Energy Access for Cooking
Refugee camps receive food aid from humanitarian agencies yet this food needs to be cooked before consumption. Thus, displaced people especially women and children take the responsibility of collecting firewood, biomass from areas around the camp. However, this expose women and minors to threats like sexual harassments, danger, death and children miss their opportunity for education. Moreover, depleting woods resources cause environmental degradation and spread deforestation which contributes to climate change. Moreover, cooking with wood affects the health of displaced people.
Access to efficient and modern cook stove is a primary solution to prevent health risks, save time and money, reduce human labour and combat climate change. However, humanitarian agencies and host countries can aid camp refugees in providing clean fuel for cooking because displaced people usually live below poverty level and often host countries can’t afford connecting the camp to the main grid.
So, the issue of energy access is a challenge that requires immediate and practical solutions. A transition to sustainable energy is an advantage that will help displaced people, host countries and the environment.
Energy Access for Lighting
Lighting is considered as a major concern among refugees in their temporary homes or camps. In the camps life almost stops completely after sunset which delays activities, work and studying only during day time hours.
Talking about two vulnerable groups in the refugees’ camps “women and children” for example, children’s right of education is reduced as they have fewer time to study and do homework. For women and girls, not having light means that they are subject to sexual violence and kidnapped especially when they go to public restrooms or collect fire woods away from their accommodations.
Rationale For Sustainable Solutions
Temporary solutions won’t yield results for displaced people as their reallocation, often described as “temporary”, often exceeds 20 years. Sustainable energy access for refugees is the answer to alleviate their dire humanitarian situation. It will have huge positive impacts on displaced people’s lives and well-being, preserve the environment and support host communities in saving fuel costs.
Also, humanitarian agencies should work away a way from business as usual approach in providing aid, to be more innovative and work for practical sustainable solutions when tackling energy access challenge for refugee camps.
UN SDG 7 – Energy Access
The new UN SDG7 aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. SDG 7 is a powerful tool to ensure that displaced people are not left behind when it comes to energy access rights. SDG7 implies on four dimensions: affordability, reliability, sustainability and modernity. They support and complete the aim of SDG7 to bring energy and lightening to empower all human around the world.
All the four dimensions of the SDG7 are the day to day challenges facing displaced people. The lack of modern fuels and heavy reliance on primitive sources, such as wood and animal dung leads to indoor air pollution.
Energy access touches every aspect of life in refugee camps
For millions of people worldwide, life in refugee camps is a stark reality. Affordability is of concern for displaced people as most people flee their home countries with minimum possessions and belongings so they rely on host countries and international humanitarian agencies on providing subsidized fuel for cooking and lightening.
In some places, host countries are itself on a natural resources stress to provide electricity for people and refugees are left behind with no energy access resources. However, affordability is of no use if the energy provision is not reliable (means energy supply is intermittent).
Displaced people need a steady supply of energy for their sustenance and economic development. As for the sustainability provision, energy should produce a consistent stream of power to satisfy basic needs of the displaced people.
The sustained power stream should be greater than the resulted waste and pollution which means that upgrading the primitive fuel sources used inside the camp area to the one of modern energy sources like solar energy, wind power, biogas and other off-grid technologies.
Ways Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas is Driving Stronger Sustainability Goals in the Pulp & Paper Industry
Robust sustainability goals are imperative to creating a brighter, more resilient, and more responsible organisation. Some business leaders consider such targets an impediment to their financial objectives. Yet designing and implementing an effective organisation-wide sustainable development plan can drive growth, reduce risk and enhance capital while protecting the earth.
Research has even found that businesses actively addressing their environmental impact benefit from an 18% greater return on investment; and these financial gains aren’t just coming from eco-conscious consumers, but investors and stakeholders who recognise the value of sustainable development in a dynamic and changing world.
Many organisations often look to the United Nations and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when producing their sustainability plan. Launched in 2015, these objectives help address numerous global environmental, social and economic issues. While implementing sustainable business practices is undoubtedly complex, the SDGs provide a practical framework that helps organisations plan and deliver meaningful changes that align with larger and shared sustainability targets.
For corporations and organisations based in Hong Kong and beyond, considering and shaping your business practices in line with the 17 SDGs could help you address crucial organisational issues that affect success. Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas is one such company that has used these SDGs to develop its Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2030 – a comprehensive long-term company-wide sustainable development framework that sets ambitious targets for 10 key impact areas throughout its supply chain.
This integration of the SDGs provides the business and its stakeholders with a benchmark to measure and assess Asia Pulp & Paper’s sustainability performance over time. For organisations working in the pulp and paper industry, displaying a sincere commitment to sustainable forest management practices, community engagement and energy-efficient production methods ensure you work towards a better society that satisfies the demands of all stakeholders – including your own business goals.
Here, we explore some steps businesses must take to meet their sustainability targets now and in the future.
Create a positive work environment
Simply setting robust sustainability targets isn’t enough to secure employee buy-in. Achieving transformative organisation-wide cultural change requires leadership to actively engage employees and show how their individual efforts make a cumulative difference. Many organisations inadvertently discover success by making sustainability the job of everyone in the business hierarchy, with a collaborative and unified mindset helping to produce incredible results.
It’s important to keep in mind that this process doesn’t happen overnight, regardless of the size, scale, or resource availability of your organisation. Instead, management must inspire employees to take part in this journey by defining their long-term goals and highlighting how positive changes can deliver a powerful impact. In many cases, employees often understand the need for a more sustainable approach through an economic lens. Convincing workers to engage becomes natural if you can show how delivering on SDGs improves the company’s bottom line.
Moreover, creating lasting sustainable change within a business is impossible without a happy workforce. Ekamas Fortuna, a business unit of Asia Pulp & Paper, recently received the Gold Awards: Zero Conflict 2022, an accolade that recognises the organisation’s employee satisfaction through workplace agreements and practices that enhance welfare and comfort. While setting impressive sustainability targets is key to creating a better world, persuading your workforce to participate is just as important – and in fact, forms a key part of a sustainable outlook for your business as a whole.
Develop a safe workplace
If businesses are serious about their sustainability targets, employee safety must remain a primary concern.
Every business in the pulp and paper industry, no matter how big or small, must contend with dangerous hazards throughout the supply chain. On the factory floor, the accumulation of combustible dust is a significant problem, as it can lead to major fires and explosions if left unaddressed. Plus, heavy machinery and chemicals can also cause injury to employees when mishandled
In fact, employee safety and welfare are addressed across several of the 17 SDGs – including 3.9, 8.8 and 16.6 – which consider issues ranging from hazardous chemical exposures to labour rights and transparent institutions. Asia Pulp and Paper has taken significant strides in these areas, with 28 of its business units and supply partners recognised by Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower at the recent OHS Management Awards.
These awards are given to organisations that successfully implemented the Occupational Health Safety Management System (SMK3) – a certification designed to control workplace risks and deliver a safe, efficient and productive environment. The Asia Pulp & Paper business unit, PT IKPP Tangerang, was especially highly regarded, receiving extra recognition for its effective COVID-19 policies and for having zero work accidents during the assessed period.
Master social responsibility
Delivering stronger sustainability targets isn’t just about what you can do internally. Organisations with the power to influence communities near and far should also plan and execute targets through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) model. This self-regulatory approach is ideal for proving your sustainable development credentials with the public, business stakeholders and yourself.
So, how do you align a CSR strategy with your business goals?
First, your corporate hierarchy must define what corporate social responsibility means to the organisation. Then it can identify strategies that realise this definition by partnering with like-minded charities, social enterprises and other philanthropic endeavours. Alongside tangible goals that detail the meaning of success, a well-defined CSR strategy can offer numerous business advantages.
For example, businesses with an effective CSR plan often experience increased customer loyalty, enhanced revenue and employee commitment. As more consumers in Hong Kong and around the globe want to support businesses that aren’t solely driven by profit, creating and delivering a meaningful CSR strategy can help your organisation stand out from its competition in the pulp and paper industry.
Awards, certifications, and other third-party assessments are easy ways for companies to ensure that their sustainability goals are feasible, traceable, and transparent.
At the Top CSR Awards 2022, three Asia Pulp and Paper business units received awards for their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Based on implementing ISO 2600 – an international standard for social responsibility – PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills and PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper received the “Excellent” four-star award. Meanwhile, PT Paper Factory Tjiwi Kimia received the “Very Excellent” five-star designation.
Achieving such accomplishments not only enables you to assess your own progress via impartial third-party criteria, but holds you accountable to a wider group of stakeholders as well.
Deliver sustainability targets
Adopting sustainability targets is only the beginning when building a better and more responsible business. You also have to show stakeholders how your efforts have delivered tangible change. With a transparent and mindful approach, you can set measurable targets that give internal and external stakeholders a way to assess your performance.
Four of Asia Pulp and Paper’s business units were recognised at the recent 2022 Indonesia Asia Green Awards for their dedication to sustainability. In the Water Resources Savings category, PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills received an award for its work in South Sumatra. Here, the company used reverse osmosis to process peat water into ready-to-drink water for 21 remote villages, reducing local spending on drinking water by up to 50%.
In the Pollution Prevention Pioneering category, PT Kertas Tjiwi Kimia Tbk transformed coal waste into paving blocks for local infrastructure, including roads, mosques and school facilities. Elsewhere, PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper repurposed waste from paper rope machines to provide the women of Tegal Maja village with extra materials to increase their craft-making income.
These initiatives reflect that business growth, sustainability, and community development can be interconnected, rather than disparate and disconnected. In fact, it’s when organisations are able to address all three considerations simultaneously that they are able to see the biggest payoffs in terms of long-term sustainable change.
With a dedicated approach to sustainable development, empowering local communities while increasing business outcomes is more than possible. Asia Pulp & Paper is just one such organisation in the pulp and paper industry taking a forward-thinking approach to its sustainability targets, making them a possible blueprint for other companies in Hong Kong and beyond looking to strengthen their sustainability goals.
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