Podcast & blog: Synergising digital and green transformations 

Some terms in the public discourse, despite filled with meaning and relevant concepts, somehow happen to not really take hold. The green transition, a necessity of our times to address, still it’s something that – here and there – could truly benefit from more support. That support can come from citizens, enabled to participate in more democratic decision-making processes, and from digital tools too, that favour and streamline such participation. 

All in all, the end is still to achieve more inclusive and prosperous societies – which means, sustainable too. Kristina Reinsalu is a Senior Expert on Governance and Engagement at eGA, while Fabro Steibel is Executive Director of the Institute for Technology & Society (Brazil). In this intro episode to the e-Governance Conference 2024, we discuss how synergising digital and green transformations can supply more solutions to tackle pressing environmental problems.  


Digital and green transformations – a match meant to be 

Digital advancements sustain societal openness, security, and prosperity – many countries and cases are testament to that, based on the digital transformation trajectories we have seen in the past two decades. But digital tools “serve also as a critical enabler for the green transition, because they foster healthier communities. This relationship thrives on democratic innovations that emphasise citizen engagement, making technology a powerful ally in the fight against climate change,” Reinsalu begins with. 

Digital and green transformations could thus be seen as two sides of the same coin, in this framework, aiming for a future where technology enhances sustainability. This approach ensures that technological advancements directly support citizen engagement in green initiatives. “It’s not just about the coexistence of technology and environmental sustainability but about how digital tools can actively push the green agenda forward,” she explains. 


Practical examples of the tech-green synergy 

In some parts of the world – never enough or too many – that is already happening. Practical examples?  

Satellite imagery for environmental monitoring. “Satellite imagery allows for the detailed observation of Earth’s surfaces, aiding in climate prediction and deforestation monitoring. This technology enables more precise and predictive environmental conservation efforts,” Steibel says. “Cultured meat, as well, represents a significant shift in food production, offering a sustainable alternative that reduces the environmental footprint associated with traditional livestock farming,” Reinsalu highlights. These examples showcase how digital innovation already can directly support the green transformation, stressing the synergy between technology and environmental sustainability. 

Another example of virtuous practice, highlighted by Fabro Steibel, supports such a case by including salient and current technological tools today on everyone’s mind. “The use of AI for environmental monitoring, to understand ecosystems and predict climate impacts, applied for example to the satellite images just mentioned.” This technology enables more efficient and accurate monitoring of deforestation, biodiversity, and environmental changes on a global scale.  

Additionally, Steibel mentions initiatives for methane gas mapping, which are crucial for identifying and mitigating one of the most potent greenhouse gases. These maps help in understanding the sources of methane emissions, whether from industrial activities, agriculture, or natural sources, and formulating strategies to reduce emissions and combat climate change effectively. 


Engagement and tech as infrastructure 

The active participation of citizens is central to achieving meaningful environmental progress. From reimagining city landscapes to crafting sustainable food systems, empowered citizens are driving bold actions necessary for change. 

Engaging citizens in the development of green policies is not just beneficial; it’s imperative for meaningful change. “A top-down approach is increasingly ineffective, particularly regarding environmental issues. Using technology, we can democratise the policy-making process, allowing for broader participation and more diverse perspectives to be brought to the table. This engagement is crucial for developing solutions that are not only innovative but also widely accepted and implemented,” Reinsalu points out.  

By drawing on the collective wisdom of the populace, we can discover bold, effective strategies for combating climate change, proving that inclusivity in policy development leads to more robust and sustainable outcomes. Take Brazil. “Open data and software cultures have paved the way for citizen-driven solutions. And all these practical examples serve a purpose – underscoring that we need a shift, from viewing technology as merely a tool to recognising it as essential infrastructure for facilitating a sustainable future,” Steibel concludes. 


Interested in synergising digital and green transformations? Join experts from Brazil, France and Estonia at the e-Governance Conference on 22-23 May to explore global examples of democratic green and tech innovations and discover the value of citizen engagement in shaping climate policies.  

Check the programme and get the ticket now at egovconference.ee