A new report by Future Earth asserts that digital transformations unfolding today could help enable the systems transformations necessary for mitigating the climate crisis.
As outlined in the report, Digital Disruptions for Sustainability (The D^2S Agenda), humans are connected to each other through and dependent on both the digital and the natural worlds. While the climate and digital agendas have historically been approached as independent issues, they are increasingly being recognized as intertwined; the report explores these interconnected agendas and highlights research, innovation and actions needed to drive societal transformations in support of a more sustainable and equitable world — as well as the business opportunities inherent within.
The report highlights four “digital disruptors” — four digitally empowered capabilities that are already disrupting economic, governance, and cognitive systems at a global scale:
Image credit: Future Earth
The D^2S Agenda approaches the climate crisis as a social challenge that can be addressed with technologies such as artificial intelligence — which, when combined with a broader range of digital tools, has the potential to radically improve our economic, governance and cognitive systems.
While these digital disruptors are already driving societal transformations at an unprecedented scale and pace, they are not yet on track to build a climate-safe and equitable world. The D^2S Agenda outlines an initial set of action priorities to make that shift.
For example, says Lucas Joppa, an advisor on the D^2S Agenda and Chief Environment Officer at Microsoft, which has audaciously committed to eliminate its entire carbon footprint by 2050: “By accelerating investment and deployment of AI solutions, we have the potential not only to mitigate climate-related risk for our businesses, but to fundamentally transform how we manage Earth’s natural resources for a more prosperous and climate-stable future.”
While the private sector is a critical part of the solution, The D^2S Agenda highlights that success depends on involving all sectors of society, including the most marginalized, in digital transformations to achieve climate solutions.