The digital transformation and the shift toward a climate-neutral future are key drivers for sustainable development. We can no longer view them as separate megatrends of the 21st century, because the digital transformation has the potential to accelerate sustainable development. This is why the so-called “Twin Transition” is a key priority in the European Union’s Green Deal: Making the digital transformation climate-friendly and using it to achieve climate and development targets such as those of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda is essential for a fair and sustainable future.
The Twin Transition in development cooperation
Climate change will disproportionately affect people in developing countries. For development cooperation, this means promoting and implementing innovative approaches to ensure sustainable development and better adaptation to change in our partner countries. The digital transformation of our economy and society is creating unique opportunities to achieve development goals more efficiently and effectively with new technologies and approaches. For example, the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) estimates the that digital technologies may save at least 10% of CO2 by 2030, if used for climate change mitigation. This already takes into account the increased energy and resource consumption of technologies used for climate change mitigation.
At the same time, digital transformation poses risks that particularly threaten societies in developing countries and instable contexts. These include control and concentration of power in digital technologies, inequality in distribution and access – but also climate risks. To harness the potential of digital transformation for development cooperation, we need to counter risks and promote green technologies. That is why we use the term “Twin Transition” to describe a transformation toward a socially and environmentally sustainable future realized through climate-friendly digital innovation.
The BMZ Twin Transition Initiative – a Green and Digital Transformation
The BMZ Twin Transition intiative aims to shape the green and digital transformation in the best possible way. Together with actors in the digital ecosystem, we must for this:
- Think the digital transformation in a climate-friendly way.
- Use the potential of digital technologies to achieve climate and development goals.
The use of data plays a special role here: evidence-based decisions and new insights through reliable, accessible data are central to effectively implementing the Twin Transition.
- Intelligent transport systems and sustainable mobility planning
- Intelligent logistics and predictive infrastructure maintenance
Digital Transformation Centers are physical and virtual hubs for the further development of digital ecosystems in partner countries. Here, innovation, technical expertise, participation, IT knowledge, research, and entrepreneurship are pooled. In addition, the locally and regionally operating centers share their experiences in a global network. This promotes green digital entrepreneurship, as well as best practices from partner countries. As a result, ecosystems are not only thought of digitally, but also sustainably: Climate change innovations can thus be integrated locally and scaled globally.
The Data Economy Flagship promotes the development of a data-driven economy by advancing the implementation of data regulation and exploring the sharing of data to drive local innovation. The goal is to reduce negative climate impacts of the data economy while increasing its potential to accelerate mitigation and adaptation.
The collaborative GovStack initiative aims to create a common framework and technical practice for the development of reusable and interoperable digital components – so-called “digital building blocks” – needed for the digital transformation of government. Green GovStack ensures that government infrastructure for public services (the GovStack) makes a greater contribution to a sustainable digital economy and uses greener technologies as it is deployed and scaled up in different countries.
The FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All initiative contributes to a more open and sustainable development and use of AI that actively engages the Global South. For example, it supports the Lacuna Fund, which is filling climate data gaps by creating and maintaining machine learning datasets.