Environmental Intelligence – Everywhere (part 1: The Challenge)

We all know we have to address environmental sustainability: whether it’s an acceptance of the threats of climate change, or resource-scarcity, more equitable markets, or just simply better business efficiency to increase profitability.

We also know, throughout our history, that we need both a carrot and a stick to change. Where legislation fails, or without a clear benefit, we are slow to “do the right thing” . Where there is a clear rationale, we can act in our own interests to improve things.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that our challenge isn’t necessarily that we need to know what to measure, or how to measure it, but that to combine the right metrics with the right systems needs an easily accessible, scientifically grounded, and transparent network solution. We need to think about this problem differently to provide scale.

The (overused) “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” phrase faces a fundamental challenge – that our current systems (financial or otherwise) simply don’t treat the environment as a metric.

Our single biggest attempt to create the second pillar of triple-bottom-line accounting has been the carbon markets – and while they are successful on one set of metrics (driving $billions into CleanTech), they fail miserably on others: credibility and transparency to name just two.

One of the many issues that businesses face is how much to count, when and how to count it, and what it means. As we’ve tried to navigate to a credible, transparent and scalable set of systems and metrics, we have opened a Pandora’s box of questions.

We aren’t using the right systems-thinking to change things.

In parallel to these issues, we are continuing to see exponential rise in data, connected systems, ubiquitous computing, the internet of things and linked-data. As we move unstoppably to instrumenting the world, I and many others (e.g. IBM Smarter Cities, OEPI) have seen huge opportunity to make the most of these new data sets to address sustainability.

However, I still see a huge challenge in achieving Environmental Intelligence – Everywhere, namely;

  1. sustainability professionals are not network-data professionals, and
  2. data-network professionals are not sustainability professionals

Combining, and building new skills in the intersection of these professions had to be part of the solution.

Where we are

 Where we need to be

AMEE (obviously) aims to help bridge this divide….

Coming in Part 2: What do we need to map?

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