How Does Localization Support Sustainable Technology?
Corporate sustainability isn’t a passing trend—it’s a necessity. As climate change and other environmental issues intensify, businesses have an obligation to reduce their impact on the planet. That includes investing in renewable energy, reducing waste, and creating supply chains that prioritize the environment.
Sustainable technologies can help you achieve these goals but are not always suitable for every market. Linguistic, cultural, and environmental differences can all impact whether a solution works in a particular region. To maximize success and adoption, you must understand local conditions and tailor the technology to them. And that’s where localization comes into play.
The Intersection of Localization and Sustainability
So, what is localization? In the context of sustainability, it involves adapting products, services, and relevant content to fit the local market’s environmental concerns. Localization bridges the gap between cutting-edge technologies and people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. And it ensures that technology products are not only functional but also accessible and relatable to users around the world.
In short, localization helps you scale your sustainability efforts and expand your global customer base. While some technologies may not require it, you should consider developing localized versions to boost your reach and impact.
Here’s a look at how localization can support sustainable technology and help your business become more profitable.
Language Matters: Communicating Sustainability
It all starts with language. Imagine navigating an unfamiliar smart energy management system with an interface in Chinese. Unless you speak the language, you’ll likely abandon the application after much confusion and frustration. To avoid this problem in other markets, you need to translate the interface, instructions, technical specifications, and additional information into the local language.
Going beyond translation
However, translating word for word isn’t always enough. You may need to adapt the interface to meet local norms, convert units of measurement, alter symbols, and more. This process ensures the technology is intuitive for local users.
Furthermore, sustainable technologies often involve complex concepts. Localization ensures these concepts are accurately conveyed in the target language. For example, terms such as “smart grids” and “demand response” may not have exact equivalents and require additional context. Without it, these technologies may not be accepted or used to their full potential.
For instance, farmers unfamiliar with solar power may be anxious about replacing diesel pumps with solar pumps for agricultural irrigation. Effective localization can help farmers learn how solar pumps work and improve crop yields.
Cultivating environmental stewardship
Language can also inspire environmental responsibility. Localized campaigns encouraging eco-friendly behaviors and showcasing successful implementations within similar cultural contexts motivate communities to participate in sustainability efforts.
For example, in Germany, “Raus aus dem Stau” (Get out of the jam) is a campaign to reduce traffic congestion and its associated emissions. The “No Idling” campaign in the United States encourages drivers to turn off their engines when stopped for more than 10 seconds. These campaigns are successful because they are tailored to each culture and represent their respective values.
Cultural Localization: Bridging the Gap
Beyond language, cultural factors play a pivotal role in localization. Different cultures have different norms, values, and behaviors that influence their interactions with technology. Culturally adapted sustainable technologies are more likely to be adopted.
Embracing cultural traditions
Sustainable technologies are most effective when they respect and incorporate local customs. Cultural practices and traditions often shape people’s daily routines and behaviors. Considering these practices can make integrating sustainable technologies more accessible and seamless.
Consider water conservation technology designed for regions with specific water usage rituals, for example. In some regions, communal water sources play a significant role in daily life and social interactions. Developing water-sharing platforms can make water distribution from shared sources like wells and community taps more equitable.
Enabling local ownership
Developing sustainable technologies in conjunction with communities creates a sense of ownership and responsibility. When people recognize their cultural values reflected in these technologies, they are more likely to care for them.
For instance, in the Ta’u Islands in the South Pacific, the use of solar-powered energy has generated a sense of pride and ownership in the community. As a result, energy systems are well-maintained and reliable.
By understanding and respecting local cultural practices, manufacturers can create interfaces and functionalities that align with user behaviors, enhancing technology relevance and acceptance.
Localizing Technology: Meeting Local Laws and Regulations
Localization also plays a crucial role in market entry. Depending on the country or region, you may need to navigate a complex regulatory landscape first. Localizing sustainable technology will not only help you meet compliance requirements but may also drive innovation and community engagement.
Tailoring solutions to regulatory requirements
Environmental laws and regulations around technology vary significantly from country to country. Localization allows you to address both requirements by fine-tuning your technology to meet the local market’s needs. You can do this by modifying the software or hardware of the product or changing the way the product is used.
For example, in the European Union, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires electronic products to be designed for easy disassembly and recyclability. Localizing products for the EU market would involve ensuring that the product is designed to comply with the WEEE Directive.
Building collaborative relationships with regulators and communities
The localization process also provides an opportunity to engage with local regulators and communities in meaningful ways. Involving these stakeholders in adapting and implementing your technology can help you build trust and foster goodwill. Through this approach, localization becomes a catalyst for dialogue, innovation, and shared responsibility. It strengthens the bond between sustainable companies, the communities they serve, and the regulatory bodies overseeing their operations.
For example, sustainable agriculture companies can collaborate with local farmers and agricultural authorities to adapt and promote eco-friendly farming practices. By integrating traditional farming knowledge with modern sustainable techniques, companies can create agricultural solutions that align with local regulations and respect cultural traditions.
Knowledge Sharing: The Cultural Currency of Localization
Yet localization encourages more than just local engagement. It promotes cross-cultural understanding by breaking down language barriers. Just as exchanging stories, traditions, and wisdom can enrich cultures, exchanging local environmental successes can fuel innovation and progress.
Different regions can adapt successful practices to specific contexts by discussing experiences, challenges, and solutions. This cross-cultural dialogue accelerates progress toward a sustainable world.
For example, community-supported agriculture (CSA) started in Japan and spread to Europe and the United States, where it has been adopted and adapted to suit local needs.
Cross-cultural learning also drives innovation. When sustainable technology resonates with a local community, it sparks collaborative adaptations. Ideas from one community can inspire creative solutions in another, creating a ripple effect of progress.
For instance, a water filtration system developed in India to combat water-borne illnesses was applied in Ethiopia to address a water crisis and in Mexico to reduce water contamination.
Through this dynamic exchange of ideas, one community’s insights can inspire unique adaptations, accelerating our collective progress toward a more sustainable and harmonious world.
Sustainability at Vistatec
Vistatec helps sustainable and eco-friendly brands achieve these goals by providing the localization support they need to enter new markets. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t strive to use sustainable practices whenever possible. Including taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint by:
- Creating hybrid and fully remote environments worldwide.
- Upgrading the water fountains in the offices to eco-friendly filtered water alternatives.
- Working with a local supplier who delivers 100% compostable plates, cups, cutlery, and straws for events.
We’re also proud to engage in several certified green projects. We’ve partnered with DCs for Bees (a sub-initiative of Host in Ireland) to identify the need to plant more trees, helping to save the bee population.
Our commitment to sustainability is ongoing. We’re always exploring new and innovative ways to reduce our environmental impact.
Paving the Way for a Greener Future
Ultimately, the synergy between localization and sustainable technologies holds immense promise for a sustainable and resilient future. As we embrace tailored solutions, we move closer to a world where technology supports environmental harmony, economic prosperity, and social equity. Let’s seize this opportunity to shape a world that thrives through innovation, compassion, and sustainable progress.
Contact Vistatec today to learn how we can help you launch sustainable technology in new markets.