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Impact measurement and management

We want to make our contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For us, that also includes continuously improving the positive impact of our products, solutions, and activities, and minimize their negative impact. With the support of internal and external experts, we have developed a five-tiered approach to measure and evaluate the impact of our activities – our blueprint as it were.

The blueprint enables us to identify the impact of projects, products, or activities on key ecological, social, and economic issues. On this basis, we can determine, for example, how a product needs to be modified. We look at the impact for both the starting point and the target situation, in other words, once the product has been modified. This allows us to evaluate the change. To obtain transparent and comparable results, we describe the effects of the contributions using established metrics and with the aid of external frameworks such as the SDGs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That allows us to also evaluate our contributions to sustainable development from a global perspective. In doing so, we always ensure that our methods are based on robust data and assumptions, and are effective for several years. We also describe the relevant starting point, or baseline, as accurately as possible so that we can reliably evaluate and account for the concrete external impact. We use the results for internal management and communication to investors, business customers and other interested parties.

In the past years, we have carried out the impact measurement described for various products and activities. The qualitative and quantitative results are presented in the following sections.

How we are enhancing our impact measurement
Impact measurement is a strategic topic at Deutsche Telekom. Group Corporate Responsibility (GCR) is continuously refining our existing approach to impact measurement, our blueprint, taking internal and external requirements into account. In 2021, we plan to make our methodology accessible to a wider group of users at the Group. We will also closely and systematically link our #GreenMagenta and #GoodMagenta labels to the implementation of an impact measurement in accordance with the blueprint. This will make the proven impact of our products, solutions, and activities on the SDGs and other sustainability goals known to a wider public.

Impact measurement: Broadband expansion beneficial in the long term

Broadband expansion allows us to make a positive impact on many aspects of society and help deliver the following SDGs:

  • Improved network coverage (SDGs 9 and 17) can help create new jobs, as a growing number of new businesses are established, for instance (SDG 8). This will also lead to higher average incomes and gross domestic product.
  • Network expansion is the foundation for many other positive effects, such as improved and more equal access to digital services in the educational and health care field, for example (SDGs 3, 4 and 10).

However, network expansion also has negative consequences:

  • On an intermittent and one-off basis, the civil engineering works that have to be undertaken to expand infrastructure consume resources, generate emissions, and sometimes infringe on natural habitats.
  • The expansion of higher-performance network infrastructure can lead to increased energy demand.

To mitigate these effects, we are expanding our network in an energy-efficient manner and increasingly using renewable energy (SDG 7), which means that, in the long term, the positive impacts will outweigh the negative consequences.

Impact measurement: Online billing is more eco-friendly than paper billing

Gradually switching from paper billing to online billing is a good example of the sustainability potential inherent in digitalization. We applied our new approach to impact measurement in order to analyze the effects more closely for Deutsche Telekom. 

It showed that the negative environmental consequences of online billing are more than 50 percent lower than those associated with paper billing. Striking elements include a lower consumption of paper and ink and included reduced logistics services (SDGs 3, 6, 7, 8, 9,11,12,13 and 14).

We have identified the potential negative consequences of this measure as a drop in sales for the timber and paper industries and logistics sector. However, these consequences are less substantial than the positive effects.

Impact measurement: Optimized packaging for routers and media receivers

We are working to further reduce the amount of materials we use for the transport and sales packaging of our devices. We used our impact measurement methodology to analyze the effects of packaging improvements for key core products such as routers and media receivers. 

For example, simply by using 100 percent biodegradable PaperFoam for one of the products analyzed, we are saving approximately 95 metric tons of paper and around 200 metric tons of CO2 (per 250,000 packaging units). In addition, we are gradually reducing the packaging material for other products or switching to alternative packaging materials. 

We are implementing additional measures to optimize product packaging as part of our environmental program

Our measures contribute to nine SDGs, with a particularly striking impact on certain sub-goals of SDGs 6,12,13 and 14, including lowering water pollution, CO2 emissions, and the use of plastics.

The improved packaging was also a factor in the Speedport Smart 4 router winning the #GreenMagenta label.

Impact measurement 2020: SIM card

The classic plastic SIM card has become smaller and smaller in recent years. By introducing the “half SIM” in 2019, we are making an additional contribution to waste prevention, with SIM holders being halved in size. In the first year after its introduction, we were already able to reduce plastic waste in Germany by 21 metric tons. Another contribution to resource conservation is the “eSIM”: This card is permanently installed in many new devices and replaces the classic plastic SIM card. The eSIM profile is transmitted electronically. It contains all the important data for accessing the Deutsche Telekom mobile network.

In 2020, we conducted a first detailed analysis of the ecological impact of the technological switch to an eSIM card, looking at the entire value chain associated with SIM cards. The most important lever is, of course, the elimination of material consumption and production activities for the physical card. But there are also other positive environmental effects. Above all, these include the elimination of logistics services, related correspondence, and disposal services. The transition to an eSIM card therefore has a clear, positive impact on SDGs 12 and 13; in addition, it also impacts the sub-goals of SDGs 3, 6, 8, 9, 14, and 15. Similar to the impact measurement for “Online billing”, there are potential negative effects on jobs and revenue in production, the wood and paper industry, and the logistics sector.

Impact measurement 2020: IoT Building Monitoring & Analytics

The innovative IoT application “Building Monitoring & Analytics” (BMA) enables sustainable building management. BMA uses sensor technology and the IoT platform “Cloud of Things” to visualize and transparently show energy consumption and space utilization in buildings. In addition to monitoring, the application also provides analysis features for optimizing and reducing energy and resource consumption.

This solution also received the #GreenMagenta label in 2020.

Impact measurement 2020: CO2 reduction in mobility management

The „Low Carbon Mobility Management“ (LCMM) solution reduces CO2 emissions in mobility management. The app evaluates the efficiency profile, driving performance, and driving behavior – both during and after the trip. LCMM helps users reduce their fuel consumption by 8 to 15 percent, lowering the emission of related greenhouse gases, and therefore contributing to SDG 12 and 13. Because the solution also reduces driving time, particulate matter, brake abrasion, and driving costs, and supports a safe and relaxed driving style, it also has a positive impact on SDGs 3, 8, 9 and 11.

We awarded this solution the #GreenMagenta label in 2020.

Impact measurement: Our contribution to respect for human rights

The following diagram illustrates the positive impact that can be achieved in our value chain and beyond through our commitment to human rights.

Human rights impact

Specific commitment to human rights in the supply chain
In 2020, we once again conducted a Human Rights Impact Assessment – this time at Crnogorski Telekom in Montenegro. We examined the impact of our suppliers in terms of working hours and conditions, work-life balance, mental and physical stress, and discrimination in the workplace.

We used the findings to implement changes to the way work is planned. We also initiated various measures to raise awareness, including workshops to explain overtime regulations.

These activities help us meet SDGs 3 and 8 and implement the recommendations of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. More information on human rights can be found here.

Impact measurement: Multimedia learning for media literacy

We analyzed the effectiveness of our Teachtoday initiative for the topic of media literacy. Joint research with the auditors from PwC showed that the methods used by Teachtoday are more than twice as effective as conventional forms of learning (SDG 4). The reason: The multimedia learning methods used by Teachtoday incorporate several senses at once, unlike conventional methods.

The Teachtoday activities to improve media literacy have a new motto every year: After “digital democracy” in 2019, the theme for 2020 was “online civic courage”. More information on media literacy can be found here.