The sustainability scorecard

About the sustainability scorecard

This sustainability scorecard benchmarks the performance of a selection of companies against seven sustainability-related criteria, and is designed to highlight the areas in which the listed companies are more and less mature in their sustainability strategies. The companies listed includes telcos and small selection of others in adjacent industries (technology, infrastructure).

It supports telcos and their partners to:

  1. Benchmark sustainability performance against competitors
  2. Understand areas of relative strength
  3. Highlight areas that require greater focus in order to guide future sustainability strategies

Our list of companies are scored against seven sustainability criteria including:

1. Structured sustainability reporting. Whether the company has history of publishing sustainability reports over a period of time shows a sustained commitment to sustainability.
2. Sustainability commitments and incentives. Evidence of board level incentives tied to ESG targets demonstrates that the organisation sees achieving sustainability targets as core to its long term competitiveness.
3. Public reporting on scope 1, 2 and 3 with associated emission reduction targets.
4. Green finance. This includes the issuing of green bonds or sustainability linked bonds.
5. External recognition of social initiatives to highlight the full spectrum of ESG initiatives.
6. Commitment to biodiversity.
7. Enablement. Companies that are committed to enabling their customers to reduce their carbon footprint will have concerted initiatives that are delivering measurable benefits.

Companies included in the scorecard

1. Telefónica
2. Verizon
3. Proximus
4. KPN
5. SK Telecom
6. Amazon
7. Apple
8. Vodafone
9. Deutsche Telekom
10. Swisscom
11. Google
12. TELUS
13. Elisa
14. Sony
15. Softbank
16. KDDI
17. Orange
18. AT&T
19. BT
20. Meta
21. Microsoft
22. Telia
23. Millicom
24. Bell
25. Singtel
26. MTN
27. America Movil
28. Telenor
29. Cellnex
30. Saudi Telecom Company
31. T Mobile
32. China Mobile
33. Telkom Indonesia
34. Telstra
35. Rogers
36. Netflix
37. Tata Communications
38. Globe
39. China Telecom
40. Bharti Airtel
41. American Tower Corporation
42. Veon
43. MTS
44. Jio
45. Digicel

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MWC’22: Sustainability – the new hot topic in telecoms

​​MWC’22: Sustainability – the new hot topic in telecoms​

Though there was room for more genuine discussions around sustainability, the topic had more of a presence at this year’s Mobile World Congress than previous years. From large incumbents to young start-ups, everyone had something to say on the topic. In this article, we look at some of these ESG initiatives and the companies behind them.

Sustainable development and the telco ecosystem

Sustainable development is not going to be an easy win – it will take years of effort, sacrifice, and cooperation to get there. But the telco ecosystem is becoming increasingly aware of this reality. The sheer number of sustainability-related stands at this year’s Mobile World Congress indicated that it is top of the agenda for telcos and their ecosystem partners, and a key issue that they are striving to address.

In this article, we look at some of the interesting initiatives we saw in Barcelona, and the companies behind them.

Airly

Airly is a provider of sensors and a SaaS platform for governments and business to monitor air quality and reduce emissions by alerting when air quality is ‘bad’. Airly sensors measure the air quality in their immediate surroundings and are easy to install. The data that they collect is verified and can be viewed real-time from mobile and computer devices. Additionally, Airly API gives “all interested parties access to real time and historical air quality data thus enabling integration with applications”.

MWC22 Sustainability

Droople

Droople is a Swiss start-up that works on full-stack, all-in-one IoT water asset management solutions. The company aims to digitise 36 billion water assets that are currently off-radar. This includes sanitary wear, water treatment systems and appliances. Droople will provide monitoring and predictive maintenance to enable water and energy savings.

MWC22 Sustainability

MOWEA – Modular Wind Power

MOWEA is a German start-up on a mission to “offer flexible modules for scalable wind energy solutions based on the Lego principle”. The company has developed a modular wind energy system, which enables demand-oriented, efficient and cost-effective energy generation. The system also supports IoT features for “intelligent applications of the future”. The product (see picture below) is well-suited to be placed on tower stations, thus creating the potential opportunity for telcos to use their existing network infrastructure for sustainable energy generation.

MWC22 Sustainability

Nokia

Nokia unveiled its Liquid Cooling baseband solution, available in the AirScale product line. The solution is designed to make “radio networks more sustainable and cost-efficient by reducing the energy required to cool a base station”. With this product, Nokia claims that it’s possible to cut cooling system energy consumption by 90% and base station CO2 emissions by up to 80%.

Salesforce

Salesforce, the American cloud-based software company that provides customer relationship management software and applications, showcased its Net Zero Cloud product at MWC’22. Net Zero Cloud is a sustainability management software that businesses can use to track, analyse and report their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in a single dashboard. Customers can set and reset targets, review overall emissions and calculate emissions data using energy consumption bills. Users can also collect emissions data from suppliers and track sustainability commitments using the supplier scorecard. You can check out the tool and how it works in practice here.

SK Telekom

At this year’s event, SK Telekom had an entire stand dedicated to the UN’s 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), showcasing different ESG start-ups that are part of the operator’s incubatation programme. These startups address a range of environmental and social issues including food waste management and green mobility.

MWC22 Sustainability

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The net-zero enablement use case directory

About the Telecoms Net Zero Enablement Use Case Directory

This telecoms net-zero enablement use case directory highlights a selection of sustainability use cases that telcos could offer to their customers to enable them to reach net zero. Each use case has one or more related case studies of companies (including, but not limited to, telcos) which highlight examples of the use case in practice.

It supports telcos and their partners to:

  1. Accelerate sustainability strategy through exploring a range of real world case studies that are driving solutions across different industries and for consumers.
  2. Drive alignment within the organisation on the proposition and requirements of use cases.
  3. Highlight the monetisation opportunities and roles that need to be filled in order to deliver a sustainability solution.

To download the PDF version of our Telecoms Net Zero Enablement Use Case Directory, click the button below

Our list of use cases and case studies provide detailed insights and analysis

Each use case features the following:

  • How it works
  • How the use case enables net zero
  • Potential ecosystem partners
  • The telco business benefit (e.g. connectivity revenue, access to green finance)
  • The telco capabilities involved in the use case (e.g. 4G, 5G, edge, systems integration)
  • Whether the use case has a direct impact (clearly articulated link to sustainability in proposition) or an indirect impact (sustainability is currently a by-product)
  • The applicable business model (e.g. B2B, B2C, B2B2X)

Each case study highlights:

  • A specific example of a telco or other company offering a sustainability use case
  • An overview of how the case study works
  • STL Partners’ SWOT analysis
  • Key solution partners
  • Indication of solution maturity

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Where are telcos focusing sustainability efforts?

Where are telcos focusing sustainability efforts

Telcos are engaging with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), through telco sustainability initiatives and company strategy

The 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and agreed upon by all 193 Member States. They are intended to be realised by the year 2030 and provide a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. But the focus on SGDs in telco sustainability initiatives is not consistent across telcos, as shown below.

Telco SDGs

STL Partners conducted interviews with seven telcos across the world and found that some telcos focus on just a few of the 17 SDGs (e.g. Telco 6), while others align their sustainability initiatives with multiple SDGs (e.g. Telco 4). However, all the telcos interviewed contextualised their sustainability initiatives within the UN SDGs.

  • Only two SDGs, Goal 9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, and Goal 13 – Climate Action, were a common focus across all telcos.

Two telcos placed heavy focus on a particular SDG in their sustainability strategies: Telco 1 said SDG 10 (Reducing Inequalities) is “fundamental to core business strategy and purpose”, while Telco 4 said it can make the biggest impact on SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) as its network infrastructure forms a technological foundation, which enables solutions to social and ecological challenges.

An additional area for telco sustainability initiatives

Aligned with the SDGs, digital inclusion and exclusion is considered a key focus area for sustainability initiatives by four of the interviewed telcos. This is due to its closeness to the telcos’ core business and therefore its being an area where they felt they have the potential to make the biggest impact. For example, one telco said its sustainability agenda is predominantly linked to its core business, which is providing connectivity, and it runs an “Internet for All” scheme in Asia to bring connectivity to as many people as possible. Another telco in a highly developed market described digital inclusion and exclusion as its “biggest area of corporate social responsibility activity” with a whole digital inclusion team dedicated to it. Its focus on this is not just about ensuring network coverage, but also running programmes to help marginalised groups in society become more familiar and confident in using connectivity and technology in their everyday lives.

Different telco sustainability priorities in developing vs. developed markets

Through the interviews and operators’ reports, it became apparent that telcos in developing and developed markets often have different priorities when it comes to their sustainability initiatives and agenda. A European telco with operations in Asia highlighted the complexities of aligning sustainability agendas across its developing and developed markets. In the areas of gender equality and climate change, it suggested that expectations from its European employees and shareholders were already very high, leaving little opportunity to differentiate itself by exceeding their expectations. However, in Asia, its employees say they are proud to work for a company that addresses issues like gender equality, a highly contentious matter in this market. For example, when this telco introduced maternity leave for all female employees in Asia it met with resistance. It was not perceived as a positive move for some female employees, their husbands and their families, or may have been perceived as positive, but not for the right reasons. Despite this, when asked about the business benefits of having sustainability as part of the business strategy, this telco said its sustainability agenda made it distinguishable in the Asian market as a responsible operator, but did not do the same in the European market.

For telcos like this one, operating in both developing and developed markets, it can be tough to be innovative and progressive enough with sustainability to leverage it as a differentiating factor across its entire geographical footprint. The telco may have top level priorities, such as climate change and gender equality, but local implementation for many multinational operators will rely on local teams to navigate the different societal expectations and cultural norms, such as the case of the European telco rolling out maternity leave in its Asian subsidiaries.

Interestingly, another Asian telco, the biggest in its country, noted that it had not had the same success with its environmental initiatives as its social initiatives. It cited the “level of investment needed to put into it [environmental initatives]” and running several pilot schemes in different areas, all producing different results, were the key reasons for this. It said that many of its country’s environmental concerns stemmed from plastic going into oceans, and that waste management and single use plastic are big areas of concern. For a telco, this is a challenging issue to address on its own and make a significant impact, as it would need support from a wide range of companies and the government to successfully resolve. Similarly, reducing its own carbon footprint, such as by using renewable energy, is more difficult owing to the lack of local infrastructure to support it.

STL Partners’ research shows that telcos are increasingly engaging with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and incorporating them into their sustainability initiatives and company strategy. The report Sustainability: Why it’s good for business outlines how telcos can evolve their purpose beyond just being profit driven by aligning core strategy with sustainability initiatives and a sustainability policy, and in doing so benefit their business and add ‘society’ or ‘the world’ to their stakeholders.

Read more about sustainability

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