digital and ecology

Making the digital transition an accelerator of the ecological transition

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A White Paper on "Digital and Environment" of 26 proposals has just been presented on Monday 19 March to the secretaries of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.Poirson Brown State (ecology) and Mounir Mahjoubi (numerica). Objective: to launch the debate among public stakeholders to put the potential of digital transformation at the service of the ecological transition. It is published by the Institut du développement durable et des relations internationales (IDDRI), the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération (Fing), WWF-France and GreenIT.fr, with the support of the Conseil national du numérique (CNNum).
 
Fxperiencing the experience of pioneering players already acting at the crossroads of the two transitions - investors, start-ups, large companies, local authorities, associations, researchers - the authors of the White Paper propose courses of action to reduce the ecological footprint of digital technology, better design environmental policies, support digital innovation in favour of ecology and mobilise the potential of data.
 
This White Paper does not intend to summarise all the existing proposals, but is intended to launch a debate on the most appropriate measures, to generate counter-proposals and additional proposals, and to provide food for thought for public authorities. It is intended to open up a new political agenda: that of the convergence of the digital and ecological transitions.
 
For Damien Demailly from the Iddri, who coordinated the drafting of the White Paper, " Depending on how new digitally-supported products and services will be designed by innovators, used by citizens and regulated by public authorities, the digital transition will make the green transition easier or more difficult. For example, for example, empowering vehicles will lead to halving or, on the contrary, doubling energy consumption in the field of mobility. The future is not written, but it is written today. And public authorities - both national and local - have a role to play. ".
 

Among the 26 measures proposed in this White Paper, the authors highlight in particular : 

Generalize "durability" signage on digital equipment (site 1, measure 2)
" Digital is not an immaterial industry "says Pascal Canfin, Director of the WWF-France. " A mobile phone, for example, consumes sixty different metals, of which only about twenty are currently recyclable. Yet the lifespan of our digital equipment continues to decline. One of the most urgent measures to reverse this trend is to better inform consumers by making it easier to label products according to their lifespan, repairability, availability of spare parts and environmental footprint. ".
 
Make the eco-design of digital services for the public sector and large companies mandatory (Workstream 1, Measure 6)
For Frédéric Bordage, founder of GreenIT.fr, " Digital services - all the software and hardware that support our everyday connected uses such as booking a train ticket, making a doctor's appointment or sending an email - need to be designed more responsibly.». The eco-design of a website, for example, makes it possible to reduce its ecological impacts by a factor of three while improving the user experience. «A simple measure would be to make the eco-design of websites and online services of public authorities and large companies mandatory, complementing the legal requirement for eAccessibility to which they are already subject..»  
 
Reserving a place in digital innovation programmes for innovative projects focused on producing "radical" ecological impacts (workstream 3, measure 3)
" The French State and local authorities have developed a number of measures to support digital innovation, including major programmes on autonomous vehicles, the industry of the future and the intelligent city, calls for projects and prizes to reward innovators, and start-up incubators. "Jacques-François Marchandise, General Delegate for the Fing. " However, too often these systems remain blind to ecological issues or take a superficial interest in them. It is necessary to reserve a place for innovative projects that focus on the production of radical ecological impacts, such as zero emissions or zero waste, and that are capable of scaling up and are robust to rebound effects. ». One requirement would be that these projects commit to measuring their actual impacts and publishing the results.
 
Create digital and ecological experimentation areas to host innovators who want to collaborate with public authorities (worksite 3, measure 4)
Supporting innovation also requires greater cooperation between innovators and public actors. « While public authorities are beginning to integrate innovations in mobility such as car sharing, car-pooling or autonomous vehicles, they are lagging behind in many other areas. ", notes Mathieu Saujot, coordinator of the Initiative " Linking digital and ecological transition " at IDDRI. « Platforms for the exchange of goods between individuals, for example, can reduce household waste by up to 20 %. Today, however, these innovators are finding it difficult to work with public authorities, if only to propose their solutions on sites for managing the bulky waste of cities."
One of the White Paper's proposals to remedy this problem is to create - in both urban and rural areas - digital and ecological experimentation territories to accommodate innovators who want to test their solutions and work closely with the public authorities, and to ensure that experience is shared between these territories.
 

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