Davos: HCLTech CSO Jayaram on Need for Sustainability Speed

From Davos, HCL Technologies’ Global Head of Sustainability Santhosh Jayaram Says Speed of Action is Vital in Tackling the Unfolding Crisis and Risks

Santhosh Jayaram is the Global Head of Sustainability with HCL Technologies – a global technology company operating in 60 countries with a market value of US$50 billion. 

A regular Davos attendee, Jayaram speaks regularly on ESG, climate tech, and how companies can integrate sustainability into their everyday operations.

Prior to joining HCLTech in October 2021, he spent almost a decade at KPMG, leading one of the biggest sustainability consulting teams in Asia. Jayaram has worked across 20 countries and multiple sectors in the sustainability space.

Based in India, why does Jayaram feel the urge to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland?

“Davos is important because it brings together the largest gathering of business and state leaders, technocrats, thought leaders and entrepreneurs to address the major challenges the world is facing,” Jayaram tells Sustainability magazine.

“This group has the capacity, capability, and influence to bring about the changes needed. Unlike COP, which focuses on a single agenda, Davos deals with a confluence of global risks. 

“When we examine the WEF's Global Risks Report 2024, we see that the top risks are all in the technology and sustainability sectors, and that makes it crucial for leaders in these fields to attend.”

Jayaram is playing an active part in Davos this year, involved in discussions regarding how technology can help accelerate the sustainability agenda. He says the speed at which we move from here is critical to charting what kind of sustainable future we will face, and he will be advocating for a faster response to the “crisis” he sees unfolding.

 “Every topic discussed at Davos will be viewed through the lens of sustainability – whether it is global economics, geopolitics, technology, diversity or more,” he says.

“In light of the outcome of COP28, climate change will be a significant dimension of the conversations, with major business implications to be considered.”

For the first time at COP28 in Dubai, business leaders were included in those climate conversations, so we can expect Davos to provide expanded discussions on the vital role the private sector has to play in any climate action – and the potential commercial opportunities.

Rebuilding stakeholder trust at Davos

This year’s theme at Davos is Rebuilding Trust, and Jayaram sees trust as integral to the speed of progress on sustainability.

“I think that the pace of our sustainability progress will depend on the trust between various stakeholders,” he says. 

“Digital transformation has the potential to help rebuild trust because of the improved efficiency, transparency and traceability it can provide.”

While technology is being leaned on to provide insights, if not solutions, Jayaram is quick to point out that we are already in a perilous position when it comes to exceeding Planetary Boundaries.

A concept devised by the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2009, these boundaries – which include Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Land-System Change – were quantified for the first time in 2023. 

“The 2023 Planetary Boundary update study reveals that we have exceeded the safe limits in six of the nine planetary boundaries, which means that we need to act fast to create a sustainable future,” says Jayaram. 

“My expectation and hope for Davos is that this group of influential leaders drives this forward with great urgency.”

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