Working Group: 
Digital Sustainability &

Sustainable Digitization

 
 
 

The EBF Working Group on Digital Sustainability and Ethics works on actionable measures for Swiss companies to improve their digital sustainability by:

  • Selecting and developing sustainable software

  • A life cycle of the used hardware and infrastructure adapted to defined requirements and respecting resources

 

Members of the working group commit to the Charter and contribute their knowledge and network to promote sustainability in the digital sphere.

Background

Currently, ongoing digital transformation processes have a profound impact on almost all aspects of businesses and private life. These rapid transformations are at present mostly driven by large tech companies, which have evolved from predominantly advert-driven market mechanisms.

Definition of Sustainability in the Digital Domain

Digital sustainable approaches aim at the benefit of all, moderating the power and control of big tech companies. Concurrently, they minimize the impact on the environment and resources in accordance to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

Emerging Issues

With the growing importance of digital services in our daily life, their contribution to our environmental impact is also increasing. Business models with computational infrastructure and devices boost rapid replacement cycles of hardware, with a considerable impact in terms of emissions and resources. Likewise, the mechanisms to finance innovation via advertisements are based on non-transparent user profiling systems and intrinsically favour the creation of closed systems and monopolist. In the absence of regulatory interventions, these developments are not necessarily to the benefit of the largest possible part of mankind and the environment.

Intended Long Term Impact

There are concrete measures that companies can take in order to minimize the negative impact of their digital footprint. Be it by developing solutions in accordance with digital sustainability standards, by buying digital solutions and opting for hardware and software solutions with a lower environmental impact. The EBF working group on Digital Sustainability and Ethics aims at making digital sustainable practices applied by businesses in Switzerland. 

Who is our audience, and what do we want to tell them?

Companies with IT Departments

 
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Companies who develop digital solutions

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Business associations and initiatives that can help us spread the word about digital sustainability

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We want to raise awareness among our audiences for the challenges and opportunities of digital sustainability and engage them to take action for more digital sustainability. 

 

We use the digital sustainability blueprint to show the interdependence of digital sustainability (coding) and sustainable digitization (infrastructure and energy use).

Sustainable Digitalization

 

Digitalization as means of sustainable development

  • Use the potential of digitalization to save resources 

    • video conferencing to avoid air travel

    • Reduce waste of food and other decaying resources by better information management
       

  • Minimize Negative Consequences of Digitalization:

    • Green IT to reduce consumption of electricity in data centres

    • Devices not as life-style gadgets with ‘planned obsolescence’

Image by Noah Buscher
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Digital Sustainability

 

Digitalization as a purpose of sustainable development

  • Use the Potential of Digitalization to Spread Free Knowledge: 

    • Open Content such as Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap etc. is accessible to all people
       

  • Minimize Negative Consequences of Digitalization: 

    • Use open source software to reduce dependencies on IT manufacturers

    • Fair working conditions in the production

Business Case

 

What are the advantages for your companies to adhere to digital sustainability:

 Adhering to guidelines for "Digital Sustainability" supports:

  • Data Protection: transparent dataflows comply with legal requirements for personal data, enhance IT security, trust building at customers and collaborators

  • Sustainable Life Cycle for Digital Solutions: modular and transparent approaches to avoid potentially disruptive replacement of monolithic block of 'all-inclusive' solutions, reduce waste of resources

  • Avoid Lock-in Mechanisms: proprietary formats disable a transfer to alternative providers

Image by John Schnobrich
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