Indian American Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO, is among the corporate leaders to receive this year’s prestigious CK Prahlad award for Global Business Sustainability Leadership.

Created in 2010 by the invitation only Corporate Eco Forum to honour Indian American Prahlad, its founding advisory board member, the prestigious award recognises exceptional, globally significant private-sector action that exemplifies the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation and long-term business success in a globalising world, a media release said Tuesday.

Four of Microsoft’s top leaders – Nadella along with its President and Vice Chair Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood and Chief Environment Officer Lucas Joppa – received the prestigious honour for their collaborative leadership aimed at transforming Microsoft into a carbon negative company by 2030 and to remove all its historical emissions by 2050.

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“Nadella, Hood, Smith and Joppa have exhibited a remarkable level of joint ownership of this moonshot initiative – this is the first time we’ve seen a CEO/President/CFO/Environmental Sustainability coalition like this,” said CEF founder MR Rangaswami. “They’ve defined a new model for what corporate-wide climate leadership looks like while sending a clear message that sustainability is core to Microsoft’s business strategy for the decades ahead,” he added.

Announced during the 2021 CEF Annual Leadership Retreat, that was attended by senior executives representing CEF member companies with combined revenues of $4 trillion, other awardees include leadership by an individual executive to Ecolab Chairman and former CEO, Douglas M. Baker, Jr.

Under Baker’s leadership, Ecolab joined the Business Ambition for 1.5⁰C, pledging to reduce its emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050, and led the way in the formation of the Water Resilience Coalition, an initiative of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate. According to CEF, with this team at the helm, Microsoft is moving aggressively to advance its vision to make a positive impact globally on the climate, while proving that such steps can also be good for business.

By 2025, the company will shift to 100 percent renewable energy for its data centres, buildings and campuses and it will protect more land than its operations use. By 2030, it will match 100 percent of its electricity consumption, 100 percent of the time, with zero-carbon energy purchases – and will push beyond that to actually become carbon negative: to remove more carbon from the environment than the company emits.

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Their approach is holistic, connecting the dots to other aspects of planetary health – including a commitment to replenish more water than the company uses – a goal known as “water positive” – and a pledge to achieve zero waste for its direct operations, products and packaging, it said.

The team has led Microsoft to look beyond the company’s own walls to create the enabling environment for change. The company has set up a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to help accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies, CEF said in a press note.

Microsoft is also building a Planetary Computer platform to help monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. Beyond that, Microsoft has co-founded a new Green Software Foundation to help reduce emissions within the software industry by 45 per cent by 2030, working with co-founders Accenture, GitHub, and ThoughtWorks to develop new standards, tools, and leading practices.

CEF said winners are determined through private votes cast by its 24-member advisory board, which includes representatives from government, academia, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. The voters chose from a roster of finalists, selected following an open nominations process.