World Environment Day: a moment to reflect on how organizations can make a positive difference

Last updated: 05 June 2017

World Environment Day

As today is World Environment Day, we wanted to take a moment to think about how global companies, and especially those in technology, can make a difference. We’ve all heard how climate change is a major threat to both humanity and countless animal species. But there are also other aspects of our environment that warrant our attention such as human and labor rights. Days like today are important in allowing us to take stock on the choices we make both as companies and individuals.

In April 2013, the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, was the biggest tragedy in the garment industry with more than 1,100 workers killed and 2,500 injured. This event brought to the fore how important it is for global companies to audit their suppliers to ensure they meet the standards and values that brands expect.

As a result of the catastrophe, major brands involved agreed to pay damages in excess of $1 million into a fund for the victims. They also entered into new agreements regarding safety of buildings, increased the salaries of textile workers and improved their social conditions.

This watershed moment showed that prioritizing shareholder profit at all costs had to come to an end. In 2009, Gemalto, alongside nearly 10,000 other companies around the world, became signatories to the United Nations Global Compact. We committed to operate in accordance with basic principles regarding human and labor rights, environmental protection, anticorruption and business ethics.

Policing the supply chain

We work closely with our suppliers to develop a high-quality, reliable supply

chain that supports our business objectives and meets our high social, environmental and ethical standards. Our Responsible purchasing process includes a CSR charter, CSR clause in contracts, evaluations, audits and training.

Smart cards are core part of our business used in banking, transport and identity documents. To produce these smart cards, we have an extensive supply chain that starts with the extraction of metals such as gold and silicon. We’re proud that part of our sustainability commitments ensures we and all our suppliers only accept minerals from countries where we can guarantee proper social and environmental conditions with no use of child or slave labor.

Collaborating to improve the environment

Far from the quarries of Africa, we travel to the islands of the Baltic Sea, where recently companies have been polluting the waters, posing a real threat to the sea life.

The Bank of Aland, a local institution, wanted to raise awareness of the issue. With Gemalto and other partners it launched The Baltic Sea Project. The bank created an Index that calculated the environmental impact of each transaction, so that clients could better understand their carbon footprint. Then the bank offered its clients the opportunity to make donations to offset what the carbon they’d used. To date €1.6 million has been donated and the bank has opened up the technology used in the Index for other banks to use if they so wish.

Shifting to digital to make a difference

There are things companies can do with their daily processes to help the environment that go far beyond the “think before you print” mantra. In Brazil, where I’m based, many institutions are running mobile marketing campaigns with Gemalto in order to accelerate customer acceptance to digital invoicing. Moving away from paper is truly helping the  environment, increasing sustainability conscious customers.

Solutions can also go digital. Physical tokens (such as those used for personal bank authenticators) can be migrated to digital. We’ve been working with customers like Banrisul in Brazil and Santander and BBVA Bancomer in Mexico to start using digital tokens and one-time passwords on mobile. These act as secure second or third authentication factors which not only reduce fraud and aid the customer experience, but stop plastics and metals being discarded once the old tokens no longer worked.

This emphasis on digital has also allowed us to win the trust of network operators and banks to offer financial services over mobile to emerging markets in Africa and Latin America. We now offer a gateway for millions of unbanked people in these regions to access financial services, often for the first time.

Embracing the future

Finally, one area we’re particularly excited about is the Internet of Things. By connecting devices and machines and analyzing vast data sets we can help companies super-charge product design. We see a future where the IoT helps many aspects of society from reducing automotive emissions to improving medical care and making our power grids more efficient.

It may seem that the world is a little confusing lately with such global political upheaval, but for those committed to pushing forward with a sustainable agenda, the future is bright. On this World Environment Day we hope you can think about the difference you can make. Rest assured, we will continue to strive to build trust and pioneer innovative solutions with our partners to improve the interactions of billions of people in our connected society.

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