Decade of action for the data center industry: Sustainability dominates agenda in Monaco

By Leigh Lloyd, Director of Sustainability, Yondr

In September 2019, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, heralded what he called “The Decade of Action”. It was an urgent plea for all industries to accelerate sustainable solutions for the world’s biggest challenges. 

Less than three months later, the first cases of coronavirus were reported. While events of the last two years have slowed progress, understandably, there is now clearly – and pleasingly – a willingness across the data center industry to speed up the sustainability agenda.

Many are at the start of their journeys. Still, the commitment to drive environmental change was evident at the Datacloud Global Congress 2022, held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco in late April. Indeed, it’s fair to say that sustainability dominated the conference schedule. 

On day two, for instance, session titles included Leaders in Sustainability: Trends for 2022 and beyondGreen Deal by 2030: Steps to become a Green Data CentreSustainability as a strategy, and Strategies for a Sustainable Edge.

The tagline for the congress was “Open minds. Close Deals.” There was plenty of networking, fulfilling the second part of that tagline, but the on-stage talks also opened minds – even if the conversations about sustainability could have been more developed and practical. 

Having attended a number of the sessions – and speaking as someone who has worked in sustainability for several years – there is a relatively low level of maturity, at the moment, regarding sustainability in the data center industry. 

Need for speed
What’s most important, though, is accepting that all industry players have to do something to help the planet. There were no climate change deniers or flat earthers, and everyone was saying the right things about becoming carbon neutral, even if some details were lacking. It was heartening to see the desire from many people to be open, collaborative, and discuss challenges and opportunities around sustainability. That determination is the vital element in creating meaningful change at speed. And that pace of transformation across industries is paramount.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published earlier in April, warned: “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach.” The IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea echoed the UN’s Guterres and said: “Action in this decade is critical.”

I joined Yondr in March as Director of Sustainability, having been attracted to a rapidly growing global business with values that align with mine. One of the four values, for instance, is Focused Explorer, which is described as “an everyday dedication to driving efficiency, conserving time and resources and simplifying complexity”.

As Director of Sustainability, I’m here to drive change, and Yondr will work with our clients and suppliers to create better, more sustainable business models. We want to all be able to hold our heads up high in 2030 or 2040 and prove we took action to combat climate change in the 2020s. But it’s not just Yondr that needs to participate. The sustainability-packed agenda at the Datacloud Global Congress 2022 indicates the willingness is there from the data center industry. Now we need to see action.

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