Sustainability for SMEs: Globant shares insight

Elena Morettini, Global Head of Sustainable Business at Globant, shares how SMEs can overcome challenges and implement effective net-zero strategy

Elena Morettini’s journey into sustainability began as an Earth Science PhD graduate from the University of Lausanne. For over two decades, she has held advisory roles, focusing on energy transitions and sustainability strategy, including positions at the European Commission and Instituto Argentino del Petróleo y del Gas.

Her passion for sustainability intensified when she co-founded Because Energy Matters, a company focused on helping companies bridge technological innovation with environmental responsibility.

Currently Global Head of Sustainable Business at Globant, she is leading initiatives that leverage technology for environmental stewardship, supporting her belief that businesses, especially in tech, play a crucial role in addressing environmental challenges.

What challenges face small businesses navigating net-zero strategy?

SMEs are often left out of global discussions on decarbonisation when they are actually central for the UK and other regions to meet their net-zero goals – so we must pay close attention to the challenges they are facing. At Globant, we partnered with CensusWide to survey nearly 300 senior executives from UK SMEs to understand their sustainability challenges. While 43% of respondents identified sustainability as a top priority for the next year, they also shared that low budgets (45%), a lack of data to support the business case (32%) and limited access to expert advice (30%) are significant barriers to successfully implementing their sustainability strategies. 

Why is it important that small businesses work towards net-zero like multinational corporations?

SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector. There is no net zero economy without SMEs transitioning to net zero aligned operations.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, contributing significantly to employment and economic activity. Their transition to net-zero operations is crucial because it ensures that no one is left behind in the race to combat climate change. Moreover, SMEs collectively have a substantial carbon footprint, and their commitment to sustainability can lead to substantial emissions reductions, significantly impacting global decarbonisation efforts.

How can SMEs navigate these challenges and work towards net-zero?

There is no doubt that pioneering a more sustainable future for your business requires changes and a certain level of investment – but investment in climate action and embedding sustainability into your strategy can increase efficiency, open new revenue opportunities, improve your reputation and make you a more desirable place to work.

And there are low-cost, easy-to-execute first steps that SMEs can take to kickstart their decarbonisation journey: 

  • Carbon tracking: the first step in any net zero plan is to measure your emissions – and this needn’t be expensive. Companies can measure their emissions themselves using online tools and resources.
  • Think about your hardware: extending the lifespan of your hardware by refurbishing equipment instead of buying new makes more of a difference than you would think – and is often more cost effective.  Set a goal to use your hardware for a minimum of four years before it’s retired and ensure your ops/IT team (if you have one)  track against that metric.
  • Every little does help: providing only plant based meals at work events, reducing unnecessary business travel, choosing a ‘green’ pension provider for employees are all small changes – with minimum disruption, bult ultimately and collectively drive significant climate impact.

What support can large corporations provide to SMEs in terms of sustainability strategy?

Large corporations play a crucial role in supporting SMEs on their sustainability journey. They have the resources and budget to pioneer change as well as absorb some of the risk, taking the first steps in adopting transformative technologies like AI and IoT. 

Those learnings and changes can then be scaled by smaller businesses according to their size and needs. Open, transparent lines of communication and sharing of information between large corporations – whether that is through mentorship programs, bursary initiatives, regular roundtables – are how we make sure everyone is included in our global decarbonisation efforts.  

How can public/private sector partnerships and cross-sector collaboration benefit global decarbonisation?

In tackling the climate challenge, it's abundantly clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, we need robust public-private sector collaborations across all industries to achieve meaningful change.

The Danish Climate Partnerships is a great example of public-private collaboration driving climate action. In 2019, Denmark set a goal to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030, partnering with the private sector to find solutions. These partnerships, covering various sectors, produced over 400 recommendations, with 80% implemented. The success of this model has attracted international interest, with Iceland and others looking to replicate it.

These partnerships aren't a silver bullet, but they showcase that trust, collaboration, and binding commitments can bring about significant green change. They're essential for tackling challenging sectors, decarbonising supply chains, and securing green investments. 

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Other magazines that may be of interest - EV Magazine | Energy Digital

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