A future for everyone

image of treesTo meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs—that’s how we at Microsoft define the challenge of sustainable development. We’re constantly exploring innovative ways our technology can address the urgent issues facing the world now, from revolutionizing individual and community health to developing a planetary computer to solve the toughest environmental challenges. From our operations to our devices to the companies we partner with and the policies for which we advocate, we strive to make the greatest impact possible. Across all the work we do, we focus particularly on sustainability in the ecosystem, water, waste, and perhaps most importantly, carbon.

We’ve made the commitment that by 2030, Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050, we will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted since it was founded in 1975. We believe that in creating and sharing successful new business models that put sustainability first, we’re not only doing our part for the planet but inspiring other organizations to seek their own sustainable solutions. As one way of sharing these ideas, Microsoft was proud to be a strategic partner for 17 Days of Sustainability, a virtual summit dedicated to taking on some of the world’s toughest challenges at the global level.

United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Global change requires global commitment. How do you orchestrate a movement at this scale? The United Nations (UN) created the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 as a blueprint to guide the sustainability journey for governments and organizations around the world in environmental, social, and corporate policy. These 17 goals, ratified by all 193 member states of the United Nations, are the largest international undertaking to address the world’s most vexing issues, from ending hunger to promoting gender equality. They are bold, ambitious, and hard. These goals demand strong, dynamically resilient partnerships to bring to life new solutions to address them. Microsoft’s participation in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is one way of deepening these partnerships.

Ideagen is an organization dedicated to fostering cross-sector collaboration on these important goals. In concrete support of the SDGs, Microsoft applied the power of its Azure cloud to empower Ideagen in broadcasting the bold ideas shared at 17 Days of Sustainability. We believe technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), is a positive force in transforming our world when it is developed and used in trusted, responsible, and inclusive ways. That’s why we’re reaching out to put our technology in the hands of all of those who are willing to tackle our most pressing challenges, including our young future leaders, to maximize the impact of their fresh ideas.

Hacking the goals with our future global leaders

The Ideagen Future Global Leaders Academy joined Summer Discovery to encourage the next generation of leaders who will continue the work to make the goals a reality. This summer’s inaugural sustainability leadership program brought together high school students and global industry leaders for a week of learning about the UN SDGs and thinking about solutions.

In the second week, the young leaders formed teams to put inspiration into action, using Microsoft Azure’s tools to bring to life AI-based solutions for the SDGs. I was pleased to interview the two winning teams, who created solutions for SDG #4, Quality Education and SDG #6, Clean Water and Sanitation. Watch my interview with these inspiring young women. The Future Global Leaders Academy is currently developing the framework for a digital badge micro-credential based on the 17 SDGs. Learn more about how Microsoft is enacting its commitment to sustainability.

17 Days of Sustainability: September 17–October 9

The SDGs challenge everyone from individual schoolchildren to world leaders to reimagine the future. Powered by Microsoft Azure, Ideagen hosted 17 Days of Sustainability from September 17 through October 9, broadcast on Ideagen TV. With each day dedicated to one of the 17 goals, this virtual summit convened future thinkers from NGOs, the public sector, and the world’s leading companies. Microsoft shared our commitment to a $1B climate innovation fund and introduced some of the ways we are applying AI to innovations in healthcare, accessibility, and humanitarian action in addition to our work for the environment. Leaders shared the insights, perspectives, and cross-industry partnerships they are developing to make true progress on these wide-reaching goals by 2030. I hope you’ll spend some time browsing these ideas, available to all on Ideagen TV, and find an idea that inspires you to act for a more sustainable future.

A time to act

AI inforgraphicWith bold goals and specific targets focused on environmental, societal, and economic change, we at Microsoft are committed to acting on sustainable development efforts and partnerships that advance lasting solutions.

And today, we ask you to act. As a community and as an ecosystem, we can:

  • Create an inclusive culture with empathy and a true sense of belonging for all.
  • Create and develop new economic opportunities for the underserved and underrepresented.
  • Commit to lasting personal changes to empower a sustainable future for all.

What will your actions be?

Learn more about sustainability and AI for Good at Microsoft.

Ready to go deeper? Read our e-book to find out more about the benefits of sustainability and to see how Microsoft activates its sustainability commitment by empowering others. Explore ideas, resources, and products that can help you kick-start your company’s sustainability journey.

Download sustainability e-book