I. What is CODES?
The Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES), is an international multi-stakeholder alliance created in March 2021 in response to the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
CODES’ purpose is to advance digital sustainability, understood as the design, development, deployment and regulation of digital technologies to accelerate environmentally and socially sustainable development while mitigating risks and unintended consequences.
Digitalization will be crucial in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. An assessment in 2020 found 70 percent of 169 targets baselining the world’s sustainability goals can be positively influenced using digital technology applications. CODES aims to progress the collective action necessary for systemic transformation and for removal of barriers and perverse incentives that undermine the adoption or scaling of digital technologies for sustainability.
The founding co-champions of CODES include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Kenya Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Future Earth, and Sustainability in the Digital Age. The co-champions act as the Secretariat for CODES.
II. CODES Action Plan
The Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age is CODES’ flagship publication and presents a comprehensive and strategic approach to embed sustainability in all aspects of digitalization. The plan addresses the need for new regulation over the digital space and for collaboration to ensure that digital transformation plays a positive social-environmental role, the Action Plan calls for 3 systemic shifts:
- Enable alignment: Strong, global coalitions of sustainability and digital-tech experts will help shape common visions, standards and objectives to prioritize the investments and resources needed to systemically align digital transformation with our sustainable development agenda.
- Mitigate negative impact: Commitment to sustainable digitalisation that mitigates the negative environmental and social impacts of digital technologies. Key impacts include greenhouse gas emissions, metals and e-waste, misinformation, and the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not.
- Accelerate innovation: Mobilize and catalyze funding and resources to advance digital innovation that accelerates environmental and social sustainability for the “whole-of-society”. Examples include, digital twins of the planet, digital product passports, sustainable digital e-commerce, and digitally enabled off-grid solutions.
The plan proposes a set of nine measurable global Impact Initiatives to inspire and provoke collective action, to progress the three shifts. Examples of these Impact Initiatives include a new clearing house to co-define key standards for digital sustainability and economic circularity, a programme to strengthen research and education for digitally enabled sustainable development, a sustainable procurement and infrastructure pledge, and a regional network of Digital Sustainability Innovation Hubs.
III. CODES Engagement Pathways
The founding co-champions collectively initiate and engage in multi-stakeholder consultations to pool academic, policy and industry-oriented knowledge from across the public and private entities, civil society and indigenous groups on advancing digital sustainability. CODES aims to conduct collective intelligence and co-creation processes with stakeholders as the basis for collective action, with an emphasis on diversity, inclusion and gender balance.
To date, the CODES co-champions have mapped over 270 stakeholders working on digital sustainability at the global and regions levels and have engaged over 1,000 people from 100 countries working on the digital transformation and sustainability nexus.
CODES stakeholders are invited to join and collaborate with CODES through 3, intersecting engagement pathways.
- Advocate: Stakeholders seeking to contribute their expertise to the CODES community and become an advocate for the CODES vision and values.
- Align. Join working groups on Impact Initiatives and shape them.
- Lead. Lead and progress one of more of the existing Impact Initiatives
IV. Connect with Us
There are multiple ways to engage with CODES:
- Get an overview on which organizations are already working on the three shifts: enable alignment, sustainable digitalization and digital sustainability - explore the CODES stakeholder map or view the Airtable.
- Use this form to submit or update your initiative on the map, or express interest to engage in one of the 9 Impact Initiatives.
- Attend monthly Digital Discovery sessions and other events.
- Subscribe to the monthly CODES newsletter.
- For more information and to contribute content to the newsletter, contact: CODES@un.org