Global CODES Network develops joint Action Plan to co-create a sustainable digital transformation globally

UBA is Co-Champion of the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES)

Die Erdkugel und Wörter in einer Programmiersprache.Click to enlarge
CODES: a new global initiative to advance digital environmental sustainability
Source: Pete Linforth / Pixabay

Today, the Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age was presented during the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) taking place in Nairobi from 28 February – 2 March 2022. The Action Plan is a new international vision to harness digital change for our sustainability goals. It is being co-created by the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) within the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

The UNEA side event marked the first public presentation of the Action Plan and intended to collect a final round of community feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders. The event included high-level speakers such as Acting Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, German Environmental Minister Steffi Lemke an Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency.

The Action Plan recognizes that digital innovations have the potential to help mitigate some of the world’s most pressing environmental and societal challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and waste, food insecurity, public health risks, and inequity. The transformational capabilities of these innovations are crucial for the successful implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and in achieving its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. However, to achieve this vision, 3 fundamental shifts are necessary: 

  • Shift 1 Enable alignment: Create the enabling conditions to align the vision, values and objectives of the digital age with sustainable development. This includes for example the connection of yet separated communities in research and policy, the development of digital competencies, or the build-up of strong pioneering coalitions.
  • Shift 2 Mitigate negative impact: Commit to sustainable digitalisation that mitigates the negative environmental and social impacts of digital technologies. This includes for example addressing the significant ecological impact linked to energy and material consumption as well as to accelerated unsustainable consumption patterns.
  • Shift 3 Accelerate innovation: Direct efforts, incentives and investments toward digital innovation that accelerate environmental and social sustainability. This includes for example bold investments in planetary digital twins for the meaningful use of environmental data or in the means for a sustainable circular economy.

The CODES community has collectively identified nine exemplary Impact Initiatives that are needed to catalyze the three shifts and take forward its strategic priorities. These Impact Initiatives entail for example a high-level multistakeholder World Commission on Sustainability in the Digital Age, a new programme to strengthen Research and Education for Digital sustainable Development, a Sustainable Procurement and Infrastructure Pledge, or a regional network of Digital Sustainability Innovation Hubs and Accelerators.

“We have to unlock the vast potential of digital innovations to accelerate the better implementation of the 2030 Agenda, by creating a common framework of global action to make digitalisation the change-maker towards a Sustainable Planet“, said Dirk Messner, President of the German Federal Environment Agency, and one of the Co-Champions of CODES.

“With the CODES Action Plan we are striving to address the missing links between digitalisation and sustainability, by proposing  major shifts as crucial preconditions to mobilize collective global action along with key action oriented impact initiatives to progress the shifts,” says David Jensen from UNEP.

The emergence of the CODES Action Plan marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of UNEP, set-up to promote environmental sustainability as detailed in the ambitious 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Action Plan is meant to inform the emerging set of priorities for the Global Digital Compact proposed by the UN Secretary-General’s latest report “Our Common Agenda”, as well as the Stockholm +50 conference.


The Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) is a global, engagement platform for governments, companies and civil society established as mandated part of the implementation process for the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. CODES’ vision is a digital transformation of the economy and society that enables a sustainable and equitable future for all. It is co-championed by a unique mix of actors including UNEP, UNDP, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, Future Earth and the Kenyan Environment Ministry. They all rally behind the mission to drive forward public policies, standards and collaborations that harness digital transformation to become a positive force for environmental sustainability, climate action and nature conservation.

For more information, and to join the conversation, please visit the engagement platform  

Printer-friendly version