Digitalization simultaneously benefits and harms the natural environment. On the one hand, it has the potential to be a powerful enabler of decarbonizing the economy and increasing resource efficiency by upping the pace of technical innovation. On the other hand, digital technology itself uses significant energy and material resources while its ability to drive down costs and overcome geographic distances contributes to higher levels of consumption.
Helping to shape the net impact of these contrasting effects on sustainability is a central objective of Ecologic Institute's work on digitalization. Some existing environmental policies are highly transferable to the topic. Other issues, however, relate to digitalization's novel and unique attributes, requiring fresh approaches and the inclusion of new kinds of expertise and partnerships at the institute.
Ecologic Institute has a long tradition of considering societal capabilities and the need for good governance as foundational requirements for sustainability. With this background, the institute addresses some of the most profound challenges related to digitalization in recent years: its effects on civil society, social cohesion, and governance models.