So, the world continues to change at a tremendous pace, and technology has taken the lead in change! And why is this important? As the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: "For the UN to deliver better on our mandate in the digital age, we need to embrace technologies that can help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs." In fact, technology and innovation are main accelerators with enormous potential to achieve the SDGs and to push forward the bold actions needed to deliver the Goals by 2030.

At CES2023, the world's largest consumer electronics trade show, which took place in Las Vegas earlier this month, we could see examples of how companies are addressing sustainability as "The" strategy, developing solutions that increasingly position them as responsible businesses. From start-ups to established corporations, they often placed sustainability as the first topic during their keynote presentations, showing the world a growing commitment. From building sustainable supply chains, slowing emissions using sustainable materials with up to 85% CO2 reduction, implementing circular thinking by using recycled, bio-based compounds like FORVIA showed or stressing the energy efficiency from new processors like the giant AMD did, or even creating new partnerships like Samsung & Patagonia to reduce microplastics in the water supply.

As we know, companies today are judged by the positive contribution they make to society, and they need to adapt (TRANSFORM) their business models to stay in the market! Take the case of John Deere's new robot planter, designed to reduce fertilizer and chemical use. This 186 yo company made a pitch, at CES2023, for innovation with their robotic planter that reduces the amount of starter fertilizer farmers use by more than 60% by using sensors (and AI) to place starter fertilizer straight onto individual seeds as they're planted. This solution also prevents leeching into local waterways. Estimated impact? Billions of liters of fertilizers are saved every year!

And as we could find more and more examples from big brands at CES2023, there were also an explosive number of start-ups moving forward and tackling other main issues mapped on SDGs, from healthcare/wellbeing/mental health to food waste and climate impact.

According to the UN, almost one-third of food is wasted globally. The impact equation includes all the carbon emitted in the growing phase…, plus water used…, plus shipping (and emissions…), plus distribution (and emissions…). As the ripeness window of some fruit is very narrow, meaning that the consumption window is short and waste is high in food retail, a Dutch start-up (OneThird) presented a solution with a scanner designed for use in supermarkets. It uses optical sensing and AI to analyze ripeness and display on a screen whether some fruit is firm or ready to eat. This will help the food industry limit what it throws away! And in a value chain management perspective, it opens opportunities to offer composting solutions and keep food scraps out of methane-producing landfills.

Understanding the carbon footprint along the supply chain and assigning this data to every food's barcode was another integrated climate impact tracking solution shown at CES2023 by the GreenSwapp start-up, allowing conscious consumers to make more informed buying decisions.

We all know what anxiety and sleep deprivation cause in our health! It can ramp up heart disease risk, mood disorders, and much more, with huge personal and economic costs! So, how about a cushion that analyses your breathing pattern and synchronizes movements so you eventually feel a bit less stressed, which in turn can help reduce anxiety?! A cushion from Yukai Engineering, in partnership with the University of Tokyo, was developed recently and shown off at CES 2023, along with other technological solutions to solve problems related to mental health using VR therapy, which can help treat anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." Human-centered technology gives us leverage that can scale up innovation faster than ever before! With this exponential tech evolution and responsible business mindset, we can build and test solutions to deliver more value to mankind, more value to stakeholders, and address major world problems!

Have a great and impactful week!

Nuno Vaz Neto
Executive in Residence
Center for Responsible Business & Leadership

This article refers to edition #173 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter and covers SDG 6,9 and 12.
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