Huawei held a “Tech & Sustainability: Everyone’s Included” forum, co-hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Representatives from Huawei, IUCN, the World Economic Forum, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), and Singapore Institute of International Affairs participated to discuss the role of technology in driving sustainability and building a more inclusive, eco-friendly world.
At the forum, Huawei also released its 2020 Sustainability Report and announced its Seeds for the Future Program 2.0, through which Huawei plans to invest $150 million in digital talent development over the next five years. This program is expected to benefit more than 3 million additional people. Huawei also released its Innovation: Blood, Sweat and Dreams documentary series, which pays tribute to technological innovators and conservationists.
In the digital economy, digital talent is playing an increasingly important role in driving digital transformation and economic growth, leading to many asking how we can drive equity and quality in education and foster more skilled digital workforces. “Digital skills and literacy are not just the foundation for the digital economy; they are also a basic human right defined by the United Nations,” said Huawei’s Chairman Liang Hua at the forum. “Today we are announcing Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Program 2.0. As part of our commitment to continuously developing talent, we will invest $150 million in this program over the next five years and help college students and young people improve their digital skills. This program is expected to benefit more than 3 million additional people.”
Huawei is committed to helping develop digital talent in the countries where it operates. In 2008, Huawei began to roll out talent development programs, through scholarships, technology competitions, and digital skills training, and has invested more than $150 million in these programs. Huawei has since benefited more than 1.54 million people from over 150 countries.
According to a 2020 report by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), about 2.2 billion people aged 25 years or younger still lack internet connections at home. This has undoubtedly exacerbated the digital divide plaguing many of the world’s most vulnerable. Speaking at the Forum, Ban Ki Moon Center for Global Citizenship Board Member and former UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova highlighted this concern saying “The digital divide impacts women more than men. Women have less access to the internet and this gap is widening. Women are now four times less likely than men to be digitally literate and represent just 6% of software developers. 170 years are needed to close the economic gender gap between men and women.”
Huawei’s Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs, Afke Schaart, also spoke at the event about how digital technologies will play an integral role in promoting inclusiveness and equality, saying, “From our 2020 Sustainability Report, you can see that Huawei had launched programs like HUAWEI4HER and TECH4HER to help women improve their ICT skills and promote gender equality across the industry.”
Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) Senior Advisor and Mission Innovation’s Net-Zero Compatible Innovation Initiative Head, Dennis Pamlin pointed out that digitalization has greatly reduced the cost of education and information access, and digital solutions will help transform education systems worldwide. Online teaching has already become the new normal, creating new opportunities for global education systems.
Climate change and environmental issues are becoming global challenges. Though carbon emissions declined over the past year due to the economic slowdown and worldwide lockdowns, emissions are rapidly rebounding as economies reopen. Shifting to a circular economy and achieving sustainable development is now a common goal for all countries.
“Green and sustainable development has become a top priority for global economies,” said Liang. “Huawei has been leveraging its extensive experience in power electronics and energy storage as well as technical expertise in 5G, cloud, and AI, to develop its digital power business and provide digital power solutions for different industries. As of December 2020, Huawei’s digital power products and solutions have generated 325 billion kWh of electricity from renewable sources and saved a total of 10 billion kWh of electricity. These efforts have resulted in a reduction of 160 million tons in CO2 emissions.”
ICT technologies are important enablers of energy conservation and emissions reduction in other industries. It is estimated that the reduction in carbon emissions in other industries enabled by ICT technologies will be 10 times the amount of carbon emitted by the ICT industry itself. Tao Jingwen, Huawei’s Board Member and Chairman of its Corporate Sustainable Development Committee said, “Huawei is committed to promoting green integrated ICT solutions to help other industries conserve energy and cut emissions. We are playing an active role in building an energy-efficient, eco-friendly low-carbon society.”
Speaking at the event, and responding to media queries, Tao Jingwen had this to say, when Arabian Reseller asked about sustainable technology implementations Huawei has carried out in the Middle East region and why future tech leaders should make sustainability a top priority. “We have been operating in the Middle East for over 20 years. During this period, we have followed the strategy of “In the Middle East, For the Middle East”, and we are committed to staying customer-centric and creating value for our customers. When it comes to sustainability, we have made great contributions to the Middle East, which have been recognized by many of our customers. For example, in 2018, we took first prize in the King Khalid Responsible Competitiveness Award in Saudi Arabia, making us the first tech company to ever win this prestigious award. This is a testament to our customers’ recognition of Huawei’s contributions to local sustainability efforts in the Middle East.”
Mr. Jingwen further went on to say, “Huawei has four sustainability strategies: Digital Inclusion, Security and Trustworthiness, Environmental Protection, and Healthy and Harmonious Ecosystem. All of these four strategies have been extensively implemented in the Middle East. For example, we have brought wireless services to the unserved, and made technology more accessible to people. This is how we have leveraged our technology for the good of humanity. In addition, we strive to ensure network stability in the event of conflicts and natural disasters in the Middle East. Our efforts in this area have been highly praised by our customers and governments in the region.”
Another example Mr. Jingwen spoke about was the Seeds for the Future program. “This program has been implemented in the Middle East, through which we have cultivated a large number of ICT professionals. In Saudi Arabia, we helped build the Sakaka PV plant, the first PV plant completed under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, and also the largest PV plant in the country. The clean electricity generated by this PV plant can meet the demand of 45,000 local households, reducing 430,000 tons of carbon emissions every year. Huawei is doing its part as a tech company to fully contribute to sustainable development in the Middle East,” Mr. Jingwen added.
“I believe business leaders should make sustainability a top priority, or at the very least make sustainability as important as the realization of their business value, and incorporate it into their company’s DNA. This is my take on this as the Chief Sustainability Officer of Huawei. To drive sustainability, I think we should start from business strategy. In my opinion, a company’s business development and its sustainability efforts are complementary to each other, and are as inseparable as the two strands in the double helix structure of human DNA. I firmly believe that ICT technologies and innovations can bring new solutions to the issues facing humanity, improve our lives, boost productivity, and make our business operations smarter. Ultimately, with these technologies, the fully connected, intelligent world that everyone is looking forward to will be realized faster,” he concluded.
During his speech at the forum, IUCN Director-General, Dr. Bruno Oberle emphasized the role digital technologies can play in conserving biodiversity and protecting threatened species, saying, “Can we find a balance and harmony between humans and nature? Yes, we believe so and technology can be an important part of the solution and can help us solve global challenges if used correctly and smartly.” Since 2020, IUCN and Huawei have worked together on the Tech4Nature project, which aims to conserve nature globally more efficiently with digital technology.
Big data will also play a key role in carbon emissions verification. Paul Dickinson, Executive Chair of environmental charity CDP, pointed out that digital technologies make carbon footprints traceable and will guide industries in achieving their carbon emissions reduction targets. Other industry leaders present at the forum included World Economic Forum Managing Director, Dominic Waughray; GeSI’s Global CEO Luis Neves; Singapore Institute of International Affairs Chairman and Singapore National Environment Agency Former Chairman, Simon Tay; and World Economic Forum member of the Executive Committee, Sean de Cleene.