Technology has always profoundly changed human life, allowing to improve the living conditions and to promote the economic development. The digital transformation is developing with the same principle.
This process cannot help but take into account a fundamental issue in a long-term perspective: the environmental sustainability.
Let’s find out why.
What is digital transformation
Digital transformation refers to the set of technological changes that is affecting all areas of human society.
With this process, consisting into the translation from analogue to digital language, reality becomes measurable, interconnected and based on the circulation of information. The digitisation process is an important “megatrend”, destined to change all aspects of society as we know it.
What can technology do to be sustainable?
Technology is not inherently good or bad, but it can be used badly. This is why it’s important to minimise the negative impacts of technological innovations and focus on the positive ones. Today it would be wrong to imagine the technological development without considering its environmental impact and the issue of sustainability.
Nowadays, the environmental sustainability is more a necessity than a possibility. The resources we have at our disposal are in fact destined to run out. To prevent this from happening (or to let this happen as late as possible) a long-term vision is needed, because it allows to make the economic development more aware of the balances with which it has so far interfered, often with negative consequences.
The United Nations have defined the 2030 Agenda, which lists 17 economic, social and environmental sustainability goals. The project is an action plan “for people, the planet and prosperity” and allows to imagine a not-too-distant future, the year 2030, in which poverty is defeated, inequalities are reduced, economic development is based on responsible consumption and production, clean and accessible energy and in which the climate change is kept under control.
In this perspective, digital technologies are a powerful tool available to decision makers, because they allow to optimise the process of production, supply and energy consumption.
Research and development for a sustainable future
Nowadays all economic sectors have the opportunity to invest in research and sustainable development. Thanks to digital technologies, in fact, this task is now much simpler than in the past. The Innovative Energy Management Systems, for example, include IoT solutions, machine learning and the use of digital energy-related technologies to achieve better energy efficiency in the industrial sector. The adoption of digital technologies and the processing of big data allows to have a more interconnected, measurable, flexible production system, thus allowing to efficiently manage energy consumption.
The model of the Green Economy draws inspiration from these principles of the productive efficiency with respect for the environment and is the stimulus that drives economy, technology and innovation to reinvent itself in a greener perspective.
Quoting Stefano Epifani, president of the Digital Transformation Institute, “sustainability cannot exist without digital transformation“: this means that the two processes are interconnected and must travel together to get the most out of both, thus achieving environmental, economic and social sustainability.
Although this profound transformation of society is inevitable, many things can be done to direct its outcomes towards more optimistic scenarios. To implement what has been signed up with the 2030 Agenda, important decisions need to be taken now, and these are not always simple decisions.
The shift towards the Green Economy, in fact, has limits that depend on the higher costs and the performance, which in the short term seems more inconvenient than traditional technologies. However, the benefits it brings to the environment are undeniable.
In the meanwhile, individual actions can help save a small part of the planet in which we live.
What can the individual do for a sustainable future?
The concrete actions that the individual can take to move toward a sustainable digital transformation are based on a long-term vision. Several principles unfold from this philosophy and allow to guide individual actions, bringing to choose products with low environmental impact and to reduce energy consumption.
However, the most important part of this process of change is in the hands of governments and companies, who can decide whether to adapt to conscious consumption choices and energy efficiency, or whether to be overwhelmed by change.