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SEMANTiCS 2023 – The Key to Sustainable Enterprises: ESG, Knowledge Graphs, and Digitalization

August 16, 2023

Angela DaSilva

Angela DaSilva

Content Strategist


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The SEMANTiCS conference is the leading European conference on Semantic Technologies and AI. Over the last two decades, the conference has proudly been a longstanding tradition for Semantic Web Company (SWC). At SEMANTiCS 2023, SWC is glad to participate with a particular focus on how Semantic AI and digitalization can make an impact on sustainability.

As such, SWC has organized a workshop titled “The Key to Sustainable Enterprises: ESG, Knowledge Graphs, and Digitalization,” which will take place at the conference in Leipzig (hybrid format as well), on Wednesday afternoon, 20 September. 

This 3-hour workshop is aimed at all who are responsible for working on ESG strategies or with directives that involve efficient data management, reusable assets, and less waste, and who would like to work with data-driven and AI-driven solutions. The workshop is for people who want to find new knowledge technologies and see ESG as a growth opportunity.

Knowledge graphs and ESG

Over the past several years, large information- and knowledge-intensive enterprises have implemented knowledge graphs to make critical data and information more findable and actionable, serving decision makers within the organizations and among their customers. Meanwhile, information and knowledge officers of other companies, of various sizes and in various industries, may wonder if and how they should also implement knowledge graphs. 

Recently a new urgency has emerged in corporate responsibility, which has given rise to a new use case for knowledge graphs and a broader knowledge management strategy, which is Environmental – Social – Corporate Governance (ESG).

ESG is a framework that helps companies transform and measure their behavior in relation to global sustainability issues, while implementing their risk management not only from a financial perspective, but also from a non-financial perspective. In the coming years, initiatives and regulations (e.g., IFRS S1 and S2) will keep organizations busy with ensuring their business remains not only compliant with ESG directives and laws but also competitive and socially responsible. ESG compliance will not only be a necessary task for all organizations, but will also be one of the drivers of innovation and transformation in numerous industries. Considering the complexity of the topic and the vast amounts of data consumed within this domain, ESG requires the use of a dedicated knowledge management strategy and systems.

The importance of ESG in business

The risks of climate change have grown more urgent, and new ESG directives require attention. The global sustainability challenges have created new risk factors for both investors and companies, which require a re-evaluation of traditional investment approaches and a call for innovation and collaboration in this sphere.

In January 2023, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) entered into force in the EU. The first companies will have to apply the new rules for the first time in the 2024 financial year. Because of its broad scope (environmental matters, social matters and treatment of employees, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery, and diversity on company board), a significant number of people in different departments and roles will need to be involved in publishing information in compliance with the rules; it’s not merely the responsibilities of one or two compliance officers.

In June 2023, IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards (ISSB Standards) were published, which allows companies and investors to standardize on a single, global baseline of sustainability disclosures for the capital markets, with any additional jurisdictional requirements being built on top of this global baseline. 

The increasingly complex framework for companies to be ESG compliant (currently driven by the new CSDR regulation) requires new, collaborative methods of data and knowledge sharing. With the help of knowledge graphs, companies are developing an infrastructure that allows them to link decision-making processes in different industries and business processes with the most relevant aspects of the ESG-related framework (laws, directives, standards, internal company reports, external reports from competitors and investors, internal investigations such as materiality assessments, etc.).

ESG workshop at SEMANTiCS 2023

The SWC workshop at SEMANTiCS intends to tackle some of the operational difficulties associated with ESG. This workshop will explain why Semantic AI and knowledge graphs should have a fundamental role in ESG strategies, and it will:

  • Introduce ESG and cover the challenges associated with it
  • Survey a collection of practical use cases 
  • Preview a core ESG knowledge model 
  • Explain how the knowledge model can be extended into a knowledge hub, among other solutions

Themes that will be addressed include the practical application of knowledge graphs, the need for digitization and collaboration, and ESG as an opportunity for innovation. Q&A and discussion by participants will be encouraged.

Workshop outline

The workshop will provide a deeper look into selected case studies related to ESG that have been successfully rolled out with semantic technologies.

The introductory section will be a thorough introduction to ESG, an explanation of what kind of problems can be solved with Semantic AI and knowledge graphs, and a quick introduction to various use case examples. 

One example, which has recently been developed by Semantic Web Company and will be demonstrated, is a question-answer application that makes use of a combination of generative AI (ChatGPT) and an extensive knowledge model of an ESG taxonomy + ontology. The semantically enriched questions generate answers that have more detail, better accuracy, and even web links to definitions and other articles.

The workshop will include use cases involving Semantic AI and knowledge graphs in the domain of ESG issues or organizations, including investment risk assessment, an ESG knowledge hub, and supply chain mapping and reporting. Examples include a deeper dive into two selected real-life customer applications of Semantic AI for ESG.

The final part will present how to build an ESG knowledge model as a basis for semantic search and ESG knowledge hubs. We present an ESG core taxonomy and explain how it can be adapted and edited to a specific organization’s needs, how it can be linked to other taxonomies, and how a taxonomy should be managed and governed. Taxonomy governance and ESG governance are collaborative across departments. 

Workshop learning outcomes

  • How semantic AI, as part of a bigger ESG strategy and digitalization strategy, can make managing assets more efficient.
  • How an organization can benefit from a knowledge hub, connecting dots across silos, especially for ESG topics.
  • How to manage and govern data as part of a large organization.
  • Understanding the need for composite AI, as for example combining LLMs with knowledge graphs, with a focus on ESG issues. 

Workshop organizers

Leading the workshop at SEMANTiCS 2023 will be Andreas Blumauer, Heather Hedden, Lutz Krüger.

Andreas Blumauer is CEO and co-founder of SWC, the provider and developer of the PoolParty Semantic Platform. In his role as CEO, Andreas is responsible for both the strategic growth of the company and its organizational evolution toward a highly focused customer orientation. SWC has grown every year since its inception under his leadership, and has been able to develop a cutting-edge and unique software platform that is ISO 27001 certified, and deployed globally across a number of key industries. Andreas is author of The Knowledge Graph Cookbook, a comprehensive introduction to knowledge graphs written for practitioners.

Heather Hedden is knowledge manager and communications manager with SWC. Previously, she worked as a Data & Knowledge Engineer on the professional services team of SWC. Heather has been creating and editing taxonomies for over 25 years for various employers and as an independent consultant. She has consulted on taxonomies for the United Nations Environmental Program, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, various financial services companies, and legal publishers. Heather teaches an online course in taxonomy creation and is author of the book The Accidental Taxonomist, 3rd edition.

Dr. Lutz Krüger is Business Development and Sales Representative for Germany and Switzerland at SWC. Lutz has been working many years in the field of Digital Transformation, Knowledge Management and Knowledge Modelling, and in the practical integration of Artificial Intelligence and Semantic Technologies in industrial applications.

ESG is a complex subject domain whose web of topics and inter-dependencies involve both information that is internal to an organization and external. Semantic web standards, models, and technologies are ideal to serve the needs of ESG understanding, support, and compliance.

Registration options for this workshop include: 

  • Single day onsite (with the option for also for a morning workshop/tutorial)
  • Single day online (with the option for also for a morning workshop/tutorial)
  • Full 3-day conference onsite 
  • Full 3-day conference online

More of SWC at SEMANTiCS

Along with the ESG workshop, SWC will be at SEMANTiCS 2023 with several talks from a research and industry perspective. 

    • Robert David, Astrid Krickl and Jesús Barrasa: Fusing Semantics and Property Graphs to power Enterprise Recommender Systems
    • Sebastian Gabler: Streamlining Data Intelligence: A Unified Platform for Managing and Analyzing Process Data in Industrial Settings
    • Ilan Kernermann (Lexicala) & Martin Kaltenböck (SemanticWeb Company): Fostering Data Spaces interoperability with Language Models and Knowledge Graphs
    • Andreas Blumauer: Responsible AI based on LLMS
    • Heather Hedden: Workshop – Knowledge Engineering of Taxonomies and Ontologies

The SWC team will also be onsite at the booth, where attendees can get in touch with representatives to ask more questions about semantics, what’s new with PoolParty Semantic Suite, and upcoming ESG activities. 

More information about the conference can be found on the PoolParty event page.

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