Towards digital sustainability: the long journey to the sustainable development goals 2030

Sparviero, S., Ragnedda, M. (2021) Towards digital sustainability: the long journey to the sustainable development goals 2030, Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, https://doi.org/10.1108/DPRG-01-2021-0015

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to suggest that, to build a digital sustainable society, core terminal and instrumental values of sustainability and sustainable development should be followed across different worldviews, and in the formulation of policies or other initiatives form private and public stakeholders. These values are normative, they support the coordination of efforts of different stakeholders and can serve as guidelines for driving the development trajectory of technologies contributing to a sustainable society.

Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper defines digital sustainability from the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. From the Rio Process (1992), through the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), this paper analyzes and theoretically discusses the intersection between digital aspects of human life and wider sustainability concerns for humanity and the planet. Technologies and digital processes are functional catalysts to the achievement of the UN 2030 SDGs and crucial for individuals’ everyday life, but their adoptions is also conditional to a variety of conflicting worldviews.

Findings – This paper focused on the role of digital technologies in innovation and transformation and their impact on the environment, individuals, society and economy, from a theoretical point of view. Digital technologies have changed the way in which people communicate, study, work, interact and even look for friends, relationships and love. It is, therefore, important to reflect upon the impact that this revolution would have on the individuals and on the wider socio-economic, political and environment context. In this vein, this paper attempted to reflect on the sustainability of this revolution, by sketching the concept of digital sustainability drawing upon the concept of sustainability.

Originality/value – Digital sustainability – like sustainability – relies on three universal values: equality, harmony, self-determination. In fact, to be sustainable, the use of digital technologies should be led by the equality value, namely, the need to not compromise the future generations, both in terms of exploitation of natural resources to produce them and in terms of to create and nor reduce job opportunities for future generations. Second, digital technologies might help tackling both the ecological and social crises through a universal collaboration according to the harmony’s value. Finally, the third value for digital sustainability is self-determination. It applies to individuals and social formations and it refers to the capability of being in control of your destiny.

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