On 1 July 2021, EIF hosted the debate ‘Building back Greener and more Digital’ to discuss Digital and Green, the two building blocks of Europe’s way to recover from the Covid crisis and help other sectors and communities to become greener, more circular, more resource-efficient and net-zero.
The event, hosted by MEP and EIF member Josianne Cutajar, was moderated by EIF Director General Maria Rosa Gibellini and featured the following speakers:
- Ilias Iakovidis, PhD, Adviser on green digital transformation, DG CONNECT, European Commission
- Dr. Chris Tuppen, Visiting Professor of Smart Technologies, University Campus Suffolk
- Jyri Arponen, Senior Lead, Sustainability solutions, Sitra
- Patrick Lynch, Founder of Bioledger
Josianne Cutajar MEP opened the debate underlining how digital and green complement one another. In particular, it is fundamental to analyse how the digital sector can help intensive industries reduce their carbon footprint and which efforts the digital sector can perform to increase its own environmental sustainability.
According to the MEP, economic competitiveness does not represent the main driver of the contribution of the digital sector to the green transition, but the broader societal impact has to be taken into account. She welcomed the digital industry commitment through the European Green Digital Coalition. “This proactive approach is what we need to find a successful way forward to this common challenge.”
Dr. Chris Tuppen focused on the two main objectives of the digital industry when it comes to the environmental agenda. The first one is to keep its own carbon footprint in check and aim for net-zero as fast as possible; companies should be looking at the emerging Science Based Targets initiative standard.
The second challenge – where the digital, the environmental and the economic meet – is using its creativity and innovation to produce more digitally enabled solutions to sustainability that go to scale. When it comes to these digitally enabled solutions, Dr. Tuppen thinks there are three key questions: (1) What counts as a digitally enabled carbon solution? (2) How to quantify the benefits achieved? (3) How to allocate those benefits to contributing companies in ways that recognise and reward their proactive contribution?
Jyri Arponen underlined the importance for companies to understand the value creation and the cultural change behind the twin transition. Innovative circular and data-driven business models change the way the value is created and are the driving force to achieve the green and digital transition.
This is why Sitra created a Circular Economy Playbook for their industry and SMEs, to better understand how to make a viable business case out of circular economy within green transition, how to follow the legislation, how to find out and implement the new opportunities provided. This change affects the whole business ecosystem and everybody must understand what type of value they bring to their consumers, environment and people, said Mr. Arponen.
Patrick Lynch represented the view of a digital startup which, born during the great economic reset of Covid-19 and climate crisis, was able to take this difficult moment as an opportunity to build a green and digital team and operations.
Mr. Lynch underlined the importance of digitisation of the supply chain to optimise logistics and operations. Green is the primary objective of Bioledger and the biofuels industry, but there is the need to quantify the environmental impacts to achieve. According to Mr. Lynch, businesses can come up with creative solutions allowing them to quantify, review data and make intelligent decisions on how to improve.
Ilias Iakovidis focused on the importance to measure, to have KPIs, if we want to build green and digital and the importance of involving all stakeholders, including SMEs. Green and digital transformation work in synergy.
Big companies, like the ones the European Commission is collaborating with in the context of the European Green Digital Coalition, have the know-how, but small companies do not know how to apply or calculate their offer. The European Commission is working together with stakeholders to make sure that we bring some clarity and simplicity on how to build digital transformation and green solutions across businesses, assured Mr. Iakovidis.