At Global Citizen, we believe that each individual has the potential to address some of the most pressing issues of our world. The biggest obstacle to realizing that potential is access to resources and a platform to share ideas with those who need to hear it. Since Global Citizen began, we have been using our platform to raise the voices of changemakers and amplify their good work. We are excited to highlight one of Global Citizen’s partners, Accenture, which has embarked on a similar journey.
With the belief that anyone can be a social innovator, Accenture, a leading global consulting firm, not only works with its clients and ecosystem partners to harness and accelerate innovative ideas, but it also equips its 738,000 people worldwide with the knowledge, tools and opportunities to generate positive social and environmental outcomes and nurture the next generation of innovators.
One example is the Sustainability Innovation Challenge, an annual competition inspiring the collective intelligence of its global workforce to design solutions for some of the world’s greatest social and environmental issues.
If the last few decades of technological innovation have taught us anything, it's that a good idea can come from anywhere.
The very first e-reader was invented by two guys who just really loved to read.
The Blackberry was developed by a company founded by two childhood friends working above a bagel shop.
The Netflix film,The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, is based on a 13-year-old boy, William Kamkwamba, from Malawi, who saves his town from famine by thinking differently and constructing a windmill from scratch to provide water and electricity.
Accenture people are passionate about applying their skills to help the planet and recognize that their collective actions can have a large-scale impact.
“It’s the creativity and the richness of the diversity of our people driving innovation, coupled with the power of technology, which enables us to tackle the toughest sustainability issues together,” said Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s Chief People and Human Resources Officer.
Accenture’s Sustainability Innovation Challenge is a six-month program to build collaborative innovation skills, a deeper understanding of critical sustainability issues, as well as generate and pressure-test ideas for real-world solutions.
During the 2022 Challenge, more than 1,400 ideas were submitted by 2,500 Accenture people. The participants received consistent support to advance their innovations, including mentoring from a brain trust of sustainability leaders from Accenture, its clients and partners—ranging from startups to nonprofits, and academia.
The 2022 Challenge themes included: the Future of Food, Energy, Climate Action Education, Sustainable Consumers, Sustainable Software, Net-Positive Water and Climate Resilient Communities. An executive panel of jurors from Accenture and its clients selected the winning innovations with the most potential for implementation and impact.
The Future of Food
To help enhance tracking and tracing of cocoa supply chains, a diverse team hailing from Accenture’s offices in the UK, France, and India developed a multi-technology solution that collects environmental and sustainable data from farmers and their fields. The tool will enable farmers, food and beverage-related companies and consumers to gain greater transparency using space tech data like satellite data.
The Future of Climate Action Education
To make the changes needed for tomorrow, today’s students need to learn the impact of climate change and be part of discovering potential solutions—even while they are still in school. The winning team for this category spanned the US and India and they developed an idea for a flexible learning platform providing educators with resources to monitor student’s eco impact and inspire next-generation sustainable thinkers.
The Future of Climate-Resilient Communities
Trees play a crucial role in local communities as well as in the global fight against climate change. The winning team in this category, all hailing from the US, had an idea to build off an existing tree-planting program (The International Small Group & Tree Planting Program - TIST) that improves farmers’ abilities to adapt and mitigate shocks due to climate change. TIST farmers ensure their tree planting efforts undergo a rigorous monitoring and quantification process and, as a result, access new revenue streams through voluntary carbon markets. The team’s solution supports the expansion of this model by partnering with other organizations to bring the benefits of tree-planting to more farmers in new geographies.
The Future of Sustainable Consumers
An Accenture team from across Spain explored how to embed further sustainability into consumers’ consciousness. The team developed the concept for an impact platform that incentivizes consumers to engage in sustainable activities and adopt planet-friendly habits by participating in challenges, events and virtual activities, and earning rewards in return.
The Future of Energy
Innovative individuals from the UK and US created an applied intelligence tool designed to introduce circularity in the electric vehicle (EV) charging value chain. By leveraging the World Economic Forum’s System Value framework, in addition to analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation, the solution generates a standardized supplier ESG score and recommends relevant end-of-life-uses for products to inform procurement decisions.
The Future of Sustainable Software
Team members from Accenture’s offices in France developed a tool that allows software users to understand their impact on the environment, using a CO2 calculator to monitor users’ tool usage and carbon footprint as a result. The calculator then proposes an automatic correction to reduce it.
The Future of Net-Positive Water
Team members from Accenture’s offices in India were selected as winners for their scalable solution to extend the life of wastewater. They developed a hyperlocal marketplace for trading recycled wastewater. The solution cultivates behavioral changes across companies and consumers and is powered by predictive analytics.
It is without a doubt that Accenture’s employees are striving for real-world change by developing tomorrow’s innovations. What’s happening now? The winning teams continue to build their solutions as part of the company’s Social Innovators Accelerator, where they receive support from its innovation hubs and participating clients to bring their sustainability innovation ideas to life.
Looking ahead, at the Global Citizen Festival in September 2022, Accenture announced that, in addition to its employees, it will invite students around the world to join in the 2023 Sustainability Innovation Challenge as it continues to support and invest in the next generation of thinkers and doers.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where we interview some of the team members behind these solutions to learn about their journey and their motivations to develop these innovative ideas.