INTERVIEW: Paul Polman, campaigner and co-author of sustainable capitalism book Net Positive (pictured), highlighted the mobile industry’s early push on environmental and other social issues and its broad impact on climate change, but cautioned the road ahead remains challenging.

In an interview with Mobile World Live ahead of his keynote at MWC Barcelona 2022, the former CEO of consumer goods giant Unilever pointed to the GSMA’s We Care campaign as an example of the industry working together to look at the broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues which need to be addressed.

Citing examples around connectivity, financial inclusion, access to healthcare and how to deal with Covid-19 (coronavirus), he said the mobile “industry has stepped up to the plate”.

“It is clear that for climate change solutions, be it mobility, changing our food systems or our energy systems, technology plays a very important role.”

Polman noted 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the targeted moves to slow climate change come directly from the mobile industry. “This is the united force that we need to unlock,” he explained, noting the industry was one of the first to embrace the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with backing from companies including Telenor Group, Bharti Airtel, MTN and many others.

However, he noted while the industry’s SDG score is one of the highest of any sector, it barely touches 50 per cent so the potential is enormous.

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