NTT VP Bennett Indart: Creating a Smart, Sustainable Future

The World’s First Smart Rainforest is Among the Sustainable Solutions NTT Group is Pioneering in Efforts to Improve the Planet, Says NTT VP Bennett Indart

Rainforests help people live safer, healthier, and more productive lives.

As well as playing a pivotal role in reducing climate change, tropical forests contribute to achieving more than half of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) – from food security to clean water.

But every year, large swathes of them are cut down, with soil damage making it difficult for rainforests to regenerate – and the biodiversity found in them irreplaceable.

Which is why NTT Group’s creation of the world’s first smart rainforest is so ground-breaking.

In a collaboration with sustainable solutions charity ClimateForce, NTT is helping to regenerate a section of Australia’s Daintree Rainforest – half of which has been destroyed by agriculture, mining, and logging.

NTT will use its Smart Management Platform technology, and leverage AI, data gathering and analysis as well as predictive analytics to assess organic reforestation techniques with the aim of regenerating the land.

But that is just the beginning, according to Bennett Indart, the Vice President of Smart World Solutions at NTT Group.

“The ultimate goal, in line with ClimateForce’s foundational objectives, is to create a low-cost, exportable model that can be used in regeneration efforts anywhere in the world,” Indart tells Sustainability Magazine.

So much more than the regeneration of one rainforest, the smart project partnership “paves the way for replicable models that regenerate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and foster resilient local economies in other locations around the world.

What NTT and ClimateForce are looking to do is create a smart solution for biodiversity, advancing the state of the art for digital technology in agriculture and providing full transparency and accountability.

NTT and ClimateForce Aim to Regenerate Part of Australia's Daintree Rainforest / Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

This is just one example of the many technologies NTT Group and NTT DATA, the Group’s US$30 billion global innovator of IT and business services, are leveraging to improve the planet and foster resilient communities and ecosystems.

With operations spanning more than 80 countries, and serving over 75% of Fortune Global 100 companies, not to mention thousands of other enterprise and government clients, NTT has a responsibility to contribute to a sustainable society – and it does just that.

Among pioneering planet-saving innovations, the Tokyo-based company is building a data centre in space to reduce the costs, time and energy required for satellite communications – and further creating artificial photosynthesis to accelerate CO2 absorption and reduction.

What’s more, NTT is building a proprietary Large Language Model (LLM), ‘tsuzumi’ – which is ultra-lightweight and so comes with a smaller footprint.

NTT Group – Responsibility to Foster Sustainable and Inclusive Future

Indart explains how, as a company founded in Japan, sustainability is rooted in NTT Group’s DNA.

“We are driven by the idea of Sanpo-Yoshi, which translates to mean ‘good’ in three ways – good for the buyer, good for the supplier, and good for society. We believe that placing people and the planet alongside profit positions all parties to thrive.”

In its commitment to net zero by 2040, NTT has not only rolled out aggressive renewable energy targets across its operations but is spending a staggering US$3.6 billion a year in R&D to “innovate sustainable technologies that reduce our impact and help regenerate resources”, Indart says.

“NTT DATA and its parent NTT Group are investing heavily in sustainable solutions, such as increasing the capacity of seaweed to absorb carbon and developing eco-friendly batteries.”

As a veteran technologist, Indart believes technology has an opportunity and responsibility to drive business growth while fostering a sustainable and inclusive future.

Like AI, the promise of which is enormous, he says.

“There is no doubt AI can have a positive and industry-changing impact and improve lives, however, AI is very electricity and water-intensive.”

To get ahead on this, NTT is creating a new AI model based on its own photonics network called IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN)) – which means it is powered by light instead of electricity.

“This means it is lightweight and has a smaller footprint,” says Indart – thereby revolutionising the internet with infinite applications of better bandwidth without burning fossil fuels.

Engaging Employees, Clients in the Sustainability Journey

In addition to such pioneering sustainability efforts, NTT DATA offers consulting services to help clients improve their sustainability programmes through data analysis.

Spotting an opportunity to engage clients and employees in promoting their sustainability journey, the company announced donations to tree-planting programmes and supporting a rainforest restoration programme led by the founder of the 2041 Foundation, Robert Swan and his son Barney Swan, International Director for ClimateForce.

To further promote sustainability and engage employees, NTT DATA has organised a ‘Polar Speaker Series’ featuring adventurers who have made a positive impact on the environment.

“These speakers are paired with relevant employee resource groups within NTT DATA, such as women's and veterans' groups, to share their experiences and inspire others to make a difference,” explains Indart.

“Through these efforts, NTT DATA is not only promoting sustainability within their own company but also encouraging others to join in creating a more sustainable world.”

Adding to this, the company delivers robust CSR and employee volunteerism programs focused on using technology to help provide access to clean water, healthcare, and STEM education and protect forests.

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