Sustainability: A Technological Challenge

SOURCE: General Electric (GE)


In 2012, as part of our stakeholder engagement, GE focused on the role of technology in addressing sustainability challenges. We brought together our Citizenship Advisory Panel with technology leaders from GE’s Global Research centers for a convening with public policy, research and civil society experts. The Panel also spent time with our Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, to discuss these issues.

Success in solving today’s tough problems is not guaranteed. As a global community, we are in a race against time, as our former ways of managing ecosystems and social and economic systems no longer suffice. We see sustainability as a technological challenge with three key dimensions. First, we need to apply technological ingenuity to the world’s toughest problems, not just to the easiest, most interesting or most immediately profitable ones. Second, the solutions we develop must not carry unacceptable financial, environmental and social costs. Finally, the benefits of such solutions need to be broadly accessible.

We need to apply the world’s smartest minds to its toughest challenges. At GE, there are 36,000 technologists and researchers, including nearly 3,000 scientists and engineers at our Global Research centers in New York, Bangalore, Shanghai, Munich and Rio de Janeiro. Their work, spanning 10 global labs, responds to both the immediate and long-term needs identified by GE businesses, and it also seeks to demonstrate possibilities that the businesses have not even thought about yet. Beyond these labs, we’ve established a global network of Local Growth Teams; collaborations with customers and joint venture partners; partnerships with national labs, universities and startups; and relationships with environmental and civil society organizations. Our ecomagination and healthymagination innovation challenges have expanded this network even further, opening the door to new ideas and new collaborations.

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KEYWORDS: sustainability, GE, GE Citizenship Advisory Panel, Ecomagination, healthymagination, Stakeholder engagement

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