Sustainability and Digitalisation in Europe: Contradiction or Opportunity
12 February 2020 - Nele Kapretz

Collaboration between diverse stakeholders is one of Impact Hub’s key values.


So when recently, in my capacity as Co-Founder of Impact Hub Berlin, I was invited by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) to take part in their high-level advisory group meeting on digitalisation and sustainability, it was an easy ‘Yes’ from me.




The topics of digitalisation and #TechForGood have come into ever sharper focus in recent times. In the six years since founding Impact Hub Berlin, we’ve heard the calls for technological solutions to mitigate the climate crisis grow into a crescendo.


In a group that included experts from the International Resource Panel, the European Environment Agency and the Portuguese Environment Agency, we discussed the idea of a digitalisation ‘brand’ for Europe with social and environmental interests at its core.


Policy Recommendations


The advisory group was established to advise the BMU in the run-up to the German European Council Presidency, which wants to focus on digitalisation and sustainability. 


In an opening statement, the State Secretary, Jochen Flasbarth pointed out the European Commission’s pledged to address the twin challenge of both the green and the digital transformation. The latter is a key enabler for reaching the objectives of a European Green Deal; the pivotal decade to come is where the “real work” must start.



Context & Questions


The discussion covered key areas including governance, incentives and the circular economy. Particular attention was paid to the topic of social cohesion as a key part of the digital and sustainable transformation.


At the heart of my questions was the niggling contradiction in the debate. In an age where tech companies (and all of us who use their products) are responsible for ever more emissions, how can the digital transformation support the development of a more sustainable world? Many of the bigger corporations have already begun answering this through the use of renewable energy, but does their size allow them to transition fast enough?


The Impact Hub Perspective


How can we empower people through education to become the sustainable, digital innovators of tomorrow? Can we avoid bureaucratic blockages? How can funds be allocated to foster the social innovation needed? And, crucially, how do we make action happen right now?


At Impact Hub, we work every day with innovators tackling issues around digitalisation and sustainability (i.e. Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action). It is vital from our perspective that policies open up both procurement and funding for social enterprises like those in our community.


A strong European ambition and digital policy agenda for the environment will inspire and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. So let’s get to work.



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