Reinventing the Future of Sustainability with AI at the Core

by Jill Kermes
6 minutes read

At TD SYNNEX, we’re committed to making every month Earth Month and every day Earth Day. That’s why, as we close out April, we wanted to take one more opportunity to reflect on sustainability, and the exciting prospects AI brings to our collective efforts to protect our planet.  

The World Economic Forum recently made the bold prediction that “AI will super-charge sustainable development.” We’re self-admitted nerds when it comes to the intersection of two of our passions: the planet and technology. So, we were intrigued, to say the least.   

It turns out experts think that AI will help us reduce waste and energy consumption, predict ways to address environmental challenges, and – drumroll, please – enhance business’ efforts to create sustainable supply chains, leverage clean energy and monitor their progress to net-zero carbon emissions. 

The holy grail we had been chasing is upon us!  

Obviously, we couldn’t keep this good news to ourselves. We already knew the channel was buzzing about the opportunities presented by AI and the growing importance of sustainability.  

Our annual ecosystem survey, the Direction of Technology (DoT) report, saw a 125 percent increase in respondents who noted that sustainability was important from the previous year, and a whopping 625 percent increase in those who were now offering AI solutions. 

But, that survey was from last summer. Have opinions changed related to AI and sustainability?  

Earth Month seemed like as good of a time as any to find out. So we hit the polls again, leveraging our LinkedIn company page and Instagram Stories to find out a few essential things: 

  • The expected timeline for the channel to fully integrate AI into sustainability initiatives 
  • Which aspects of sustainability would be most positively impacted by AI  
  • How critical it is for organizations to integrate AI into sustainability for business success 
  • How customers planned to get the ball rolling in implementing these new solutions  

The results were gratifying, and honestly, even more bullish than we had expected when we first published the questions. (Inner office bets will be settled later.)  

Here’s how the stats stacked up:  

2027 is just around the corner. 

Nearly two-thirds of our audience (65%) predict a full integration of AI into sustainability initiatives in three years or less.  

Circular economy and energy efficiency win out. 

Just over 40 percent of respondents say these two critical parts of our sustainability journey will be most positively impacted.  

Sustainability and AI are critical to organizational success. 

75 percent of respondents noted that AI integration is either critical or very important to ESG success. 

Optimism is tempered by a pragmatic approach to adoption.  

Respondents noted that establishing an AI strategy and goals (44 percent) and conducting a readiness assessment (32 percent) were critical to implementation.  Not surprisingly, investments in skills and training was also considered important (20 percent).  

Reflecting on AI’s environmental footprint

Speaking of tempering, it’s important to note that AI’s power to help us drive our sustainability strategies is complicated by its impact on the environment. Recent news reports reflect on the impact of AI on the power grid, and note that renewables won’t be able to keep up with the spike in demand.  

As we commit to integrating AI into our sustainability strategies, the industry will urgently need to solution the green implementation of this new tool. With the power of AI to guide us, we are confident that the World Economic Forum’s bold prediction will come true:

“AI will supercharge sustainable development… and redefine our collective response to urgent global challenges.” 

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