European approaches towards a Sustainable Digitalization

In December 2020, the EU Council has approved conclusions how to shape ‘Digitalization for the benefit of the environment’. In the same month, the European Commission has proposed the ‘Digital Services Act package’, which will now be further developed in a two-year process and may pave the way for a truly ‘European Way’ for governing the digital economy. This Symposium wants to provide a forum for debate amongst civil society organizations, science, and policy-makers how to join forces to address the question: How can digitalization be shaped in a way that nurtures common goods and respects planetary boundaries? 

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Existing analyses show that current forms of digitalization increase resource demand and aggravate social inequalities. Therefore, there is an urgent need for concerted action from civl society, science and politics, including strong regulatory frameworks to reap the sustainability benefits of digitalization and to include such demands into ongoing policy processes at national and EU levels. The event is a joint initiative by the Einstein Center Digital Future/ TU Berlin, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and Leuphana University. The Opening Panel will introduce the issue and the scope of the Symposium and three parallel breakout groups will discuss the European approach for a sustainable digitalization from different perspectives: 

  • With a view to policy-makers, the Symposium will discuss which enablers are needed at a social, organizational, and individual level for a sustainable digital transformation;
  • With a view to the science-policy interface and scientists from all disciplines, the Symposium will bring together researchers from European academia and think tanks on the nexus of digitalization and sustainability and discuss potential cooperation;
  • With a view to representatives from civil society organizations, the Symposium would like to provide a forum to discuss how collaborative action between green and digital advocacy groups as experienced within the German “Bits & Bäume” movement can be internationalized in order to join forces for shaping the ongoing policy processes at the EU level.


The Closing Panel consists of a concluding discussion, with a focus on required initiatives, collaborations and key levers on the way to implement elements of a sustainable digitalization within current political frameworks at the EU-Level.

The main topic of the International Symposium is also discussed in a Special Issue of the journal OekologischesWirtschaften (Ecological Economy). Several articles of the open access issue explore the nexus of digitalization and sustainability.