Geospatial is changing everything, again.
Modern society is demanding a higher level of social responsibility from companies and organizations. For the most part, the private sector has been willing to engage and at least attempt to address the more egregious abuses of people, land, or wildlife. But as we think more generally about ESG and its regulation, the story will become increasingly complex, at least for a time.
Why is this an issue? The EU Parliament has just voted to require large companies to have a climate transition plan.
This means a European company with revenues of over 150 million Euros and more than 500 employees will have to create reports revealing the potential abuses of people or land (and by that, I also mean habitat and wildlife) and provide a pathway to mitigation and harm reduction. Critically, this applies to companies and their supply chains. Additionally, companies are also being asked to provide reporting within the context of achieving the Paris Agreement goals: how are they contributing to limiting global warming to 1.5c? The new rules will apply to non-EU companies that meet the revenue thresholds within the EU and, in time, smaller companies too.
This is clearly a lot for the corporate world to consider. Managing your own physical infrastructure is complex, but deeply understanding the climate-related impacts of and on assets in an entire supply chain is a tall order. Especially as the dirty little secret is that many large corporations have a difficult time tracking their assets as different ownership structures make the notion of ownership and, thus, responsibility somewhat murky. You might call this strategic ambiguity. However, with the supply chains being called out, there is a need for a holistic inventory of assets, and then there will be an impact identification process. Altogether, quite a bit of activity.
As a geospatial person, I think first about data. More precisely, I think about data availability, data quality, and data granularity. In short, for most major organizations knowing where assets are is going to be a difficult, multi-faceted geospatial exercise. My team and I have been talking about this impending problem for some time:
- Assets, The Scale of Spatial Finance
- Asset Data, a Case for Geospatial
- Supply Chain Disruptions and Geography
And, though we have an idea of what the problem looks like, each company (and there are thousands of them) is so overtly different from the others that any platform approach will need a liberal serving of services to make use of it. Of course, this is the model that every major ERP company put to work through the late 90s and 2000s, and I suspect we will also see ESG platforms emerge with similar patterns.
At Sparkgeo, we have been thinking about this problem and have a services product called Sparkgeo Diligence, Which is really directed at supporting companies in discovering their assets and then finding the best tools with which to measure subsequent impacts and risks.