Sustainability at Telenet: a LEAP of faith

Telenet’s admission in 2011 to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) could yet turn out to be a watershed moment for the cable industry. You can think of sustainability as a feel-good issuethat you can support when it’s convenient to do so. Or you can think of it as the emerging context in which business must operate, and embrace the challenges and opportunities it brings.

What are we doing to achieve our mission? Our specially-constructed sustainability programme, LEAP (it stands for Linking Environment and Profit) focuses on three core areas of activity: Connect, Care and Cascade. Connect means making our services available to the best of our ability to all customers including the underprivileged. Instrumental in this approach is our Telenet Foundation that supports ICT programs at schools and hospitals. Care means that Telenet is actively caring for its direct environment and employees.  Finally the Cascade area of activites is representing the efforts of Telenet in the field of helping others with better application of our services. The LEAP program has three key objectives that are to be achieved by 2015:

1. Increase of the citizenship within the corporate reputation measurement of 20%
2. Committed employer as measured by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index
3. Carbon neutrality

As an illustration I’d like to zoom in on our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. We are a young, growing industry and, with the amount of data consumed and devices connected continuing to increase exponentially, we have a responsibility to help ensure that the environmental burden of the services we deliver is managed sustainably.

What is Telenet concretely doing in this area? First of all, we broke our operation down into two major spheres; network operations and datacenter electricity and mobility. Electricity hasn’t been so difficult to make headway on, as clean energy options are now readily available we have identified plenty of major and minor tweaks to improve energy efficiency and performance. Mobility has been more of a challenge, frankly, because we have had to change the mindsets of our colleagues: not in a sinister kind of way, but by encouraging them to use public transport and make other lifestyle choices that may have seemed anathema a few years ago.

In the mean time, we’re ramping up our carbon offsetting operation. There are plenty of ways to do this, including buying permits or running a portfolio of carbon reduction projects , but we opted to place all our eggs in one basket and invest in forestry in Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest. We like this approach for several reasons; first the area boasts about the richest biodiversity you’ll find anywhere on the planet, which makes it kind of important that we preserve it. Secondly, by investing all our offsetting into the one scheme we’re able to take a real involvement in how the project is run, applying some of our own management expertise to problems that, with our NGO partners, we can help solve.  Lastly, but by no means least importantly, it provides a great reference point for our colleagues, who get to see tangible evidence of why our efforts matter.

This is why we have worked very hard at become members of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and set out to become carbon neutral by 2015: not just to gain extra subscribers in the here and now but to invest in our viability for the long term.

Cable Congress 2012

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