Telefónica: Sustainable Innovation – Designing A Better Future

Telefónica is one of the main private worldwide telecommunications companies. Throughout our 80 years of history, we have stood out for our commitment to the economic, technological and social development of the regions in which we are present. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have given us a new development framework for promoting innovation, and more specifically, innovation with a purpose. 

We believe in the creation of sustainable infrastructure and services based on innovation. We are committed to connecting people with efficient and environmentally friendly networks and exploiting the capabilities of Big Data to improve people’s lives. 

Technology and innovation will probably define the future of humanity and we believe that new digital technologies are one of the main driving forces of economic and social transformation.

 Sustainable infrastructure

Between 2012 and 2017, we have invested 45 billion euros in physical assets including spectrum to improve and roll out new infrastructure to connect people. We work responsibly, deploying sustainable networks that are powered by renewable energy – our goal is that our consumption must be 100% renewable by 2030 – to protect the planet. 


Connecting Digital Lives

3.9 billion people – more than half the world’s total population – are still offline. Most of them live in developing countries. Our goal is to connect more than 100 million people in Latin America with no internet access. 

Digitalization must be an inclusive process that ensures everyone the opportunity to participate in a connected world. Without reliable, high-speed connectivity infrastructure, people cannot benefit from huge opportunities coming from the new ways to create, communicate and collaborate. Therefore, connectivity is a necessary element to empower people and the key to social inclusion. It opens the access to digital education and knowledge on an unprecedented global scale, which in turn provides new professional possibilities and prepares people for future employments. 

Big Data for Social Good

The promise of data and digital technologies to improve lives is compelling, and digitalization today runs the risk of being perceived by parts of the population in developed economies as a source of inequality and degradation of living standards. 

With billions of mobile devices and internet connections and new data analytic capabilities, we can use our own internal data with external information to give back the value to our customers and contributing simultaneously to achieving SDGs. For this reason, we have a pioneering line of work called “Big Data for Social Good”, in which we use the power of anonymous data to can address new social challenges like air quality or emergencies. 

Collaboration and Alliances

A variety of initiatives from the private and public sectors are required to close the connectivity gap. 

At Telefónica, we are tackling this major challenge with a radically open approach, collaborating with several cross-industry stakeholders: Internet companies, other local operators, local entrepreneurs, governments, etc. We are using the next generation of software-based networks to build a rural, sustainable value chain with scalable financial structures capable of deploying the networks of tomorrow. 

It is important for businesses to understand their contribution to the SDG goals as they report against them, but it isn’t enough to report positive progress around one or two SDGs, while ignoring negative impacts on another goal. Ultimately, solutions will only work if they are joined up. That’s why our approach to sustainability encompasses our entire value chain, going beyond our own operations and our customers.