Microsoft’s Public Cloud for Public Good – The Opportunity for Sustainability

On January 19th, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced our new commitment to putting the Microsoft Cloud to work for the public good. We are donating $1 billion in Microsoft cloud services through Microsoft Philanthropies to nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years, with a goal of supporting 70,000 nonprofits through the initiative.

The cloud has emerged as a vital resource for addressing the world’s problems. As Satya noted in the announcement, the scale and power enabled by the cloud will be essential in unlocking solutions to and meeting the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are aimed at supporting a global sustainable development agenda, including ensuring affordable, clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production and taking action on climate. The cloud is critically important in the development and upkeep of the data infrastructure—storage, collection, analysis, and transparency—that will be required to track progress against all the SDGs, both at a country and a global level.

We are already seeing the potential for the cloud, and in particular Microsoft cloud services, to enable and accelerate data insights that can help the world understand climate change, develop energy-efficient solutions and make progress towards a low-carbon, sustainable global economy. Here are just a few examples of how researchers and nonprofits are already putting the power of the cloud to work for the environment:

  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently using Microsoft Azure to power the carbon exchange mechanism of the Climate Neutral Now initiative. The Initiative aims to make it easier for organizations, governments and individuals to measure, reduce and offset their greenhouse gas emissions through this online platform.
  • Microsoft Research is working with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) Biodiversity Research Program through the use of 700 wireless sensors, cloud technology and automated data-stream processing to understand the impact of climate change on Brazilian cloud forests.
  • Microsoft has partnered with CDP, an international not-for-profit that works with companies and cities to disclose environmental impacts, to provide a next-generation online solution for the CDP’s global climate change database. Microsoft’s database technology allows companies to report more detailed climate change information.
  • Through an investment in the Nature Conservancy’s Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative, Microsoft technology is helping to conduct a first-of-its-kind mapping of the ocean’s full value. The Conservancy is taking a fresh look at the value mangroves, reefs, seagrasses, and salt marshes play in jobs, food security, risk reduction and recreational revenue, and how this information can be used for decisions about economic development and conservation.

I encourage our partners in both the nonprofit community and university research teams to explore these options for additional cloud support through the NGO or research tracks.

Microsoft Philantrophies

NGOs and nonprofits will get access to Microsoft Azure and our data centers; enterprise mobility for device and data management; CRM online to manage donor relationships and an expansion of our Office 365 Nonprofit program. The full program will begin rolling out this spring, and we will share additional details about how to partner with us at that time.

University faculty can access these cloud offerings through the existing Azure for Research program, which grants free Azure storage and computing resources to help university faculty accelerate their research. Proposals are considered every two months in a calendar year, and you can access more information about timing and proposal FAQs here.

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