Data and the Green Economy

Can effective data management be the key to unlocking the Green Economy?
Terms like sustainability and green economy sometimes get bandied about without needed structures and frameworks to ensure that it is tangible, highly implementable and impactful. I recently had the opportunity to attend a “Use of Big Data” Symposium hosted by the ILO with interesting discussions around asking the right questions for the data to work for you. This comes off the back of a session with GIZ on “circular economy and business model design“.

As a value chain specialist, we’re often called in to develop tangible solutions that are dependent on data sets for decision making – how much / type of waste are you generating, what is your current capacity, what are forecast trends, where are the opportunities to improve your processes and what are the points to leverage in your value chain? It’s often quite concerning how little structure and verification protocols are placed behind this data. You wouldn’t do this with your financial indices, why then with your environmental data? Structured the right way, analyzing this information could provide not only insights into environmental footprint but opportunities for cost savings, new market opportunities and revenue streams.

Why is data for the Green Economy being neglected?
Some cite significant costs for implementing data management systems. Why use an ERP system when excel could easily do the job? The key really lies in how you look at data – is it part of your decision-making toolkit or is it just a prescriptive box to tick? We live in unprecedented times. Never before has so much information been available for effective decision-making but at the same time, perspectives around sustainability and green economy don’t always take full advantage of this. As a value chain specialist, we strongly rely on solid intel. We’ve seen first hand the impact and scope of possibility with companies transitioning to a waste economy or identifying guaranteed recycled content supply for their products or even developing new industries. All of this relies on good databoth quantitative and qualitative.

As with most technology, the key takeaway is not to get caught up on how fancy the tech is but to rather look at the human problem you’re trying to solve – not unlike impact considerations for the green economy.

What’s in it for me:
So here’s what I’m thinking – Developing a low cost, accessible data management tool targeting growth and development of the Green Economy in Africa is long overdue but a completely attainable target. Designed with intended useful outcomes in mind, it could be a real game-changer on how we conduct business. Who’s in this with me?

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This article was previously published on LinkedIn.

About the author


Dr Jaisheila Rajput is Founder & CEO of TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now. She strongly advocates the use of green economy business models and actively supports organisations looking to rapidly innovate their business.

Jaisheila holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town.