Digital Sustainability

Globe from above at night with illuminated areas with connections drawn between themClick to enlarge
The increasing connectivity of life is ambivalent for environmental protection and sustainability.
Source: greenbutterfly / Adobestock

Digital technologies can be harnessed to make an important contribution to the global sustainability transformation. Individually and in sum, the technologies harbour potential to bring about important ecological, societal and economic change. Gearing digitalisation towards sustainability requires creating the necessary conditions to achieve this aim.

Digital technologies are changing our lives completely, starting with personal communications through to the organisation and culture of our society. The increasing connectivity of all facets of life can result in increased energy and resource efficiency and process optimisation. The accompanying fundamental edaption of our consumption habits as well as production and infrastructures that will follow creates opportunities to find environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions that go hand in hand with new digital technologies.

At the same timethe increasing demand for digital technologies along with the growing range of digital products and services harbours . Natural resource and energy consumption is on the rise. New digital services make everyday life easier and more convenient, but they also drive consumption. Research at the German Environment Agency (UBA) focuses on topics such as the effects of digital marketing strategies on consumer behaviour, digital economics, the potential of digitalisation for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector and the orientation towards the common good in the age of digitalisation. The aim of research is to grasp the extent of the impact of digitalisation.

The digital transformation path is not a straightforward one, for it is rather dynamic and complex. This is why it is useful to analyse its opportunities and limitations and to assess relevant environmental impacts early on. Climate justice and digital equity must also be taken into greater consideration. 

Digitalisation must be viewed as a cross-cutting environmental policy issue if the aim is to achieve successful, social and ecologically sustainable development through digital transformation. Shaping the future of digitalisation is the joint responsibility of politics, business, research and civil society, and it requires coordinated global action across all fields of action in order to mitigate the negative impacts of digitalisation and achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. ⁠UBA⁠ engages in this endeavour at international level through the global Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES).

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 digitalisation  technology  2030 Agenda  transformation