The digital transformation is changing consumption in Germany and around the world on every level, from individual consumer purchases, to purely online businesses and marketing channels, to the increasing number of digital end products. Trends and developments like the sharing economy, targeted advertising, and intelligent options to review supply chains offer both positive and negative potential for socio-ecological change. For example, although services like car sharing can increase sustainable forms of mobility, rebound effects often lead to increased traffic volumes – or the money saved goes towards carbon-intensive air travel.
Thus far, research on the existing and potential effects of digitalisation on social-ecological change has been fragmented or restricted to specific topics. In light of this, the study commissioned by the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 (WPN 2030) presents a more comprehensive overview of the key trends and stakeholders in, as well as challenges and opportunities of, digitalisation and sustainable consumption.
The project considered a range of questions, including: Which developments in Germany and other European countries lead the way forward? Which key players from politics, business, civil society and research are driving, facilitating or preventing these developments? Which requirements for political action and design strategies can Germany derive from these trends, and what can we learn from best practices in other countries? The results of the study are to be incorporated into the update of the German National Sustainable Development Strategy (DNS) in 2020, and make the digital trends useful for social-ecological change.
adelphi contributed its experience and expertise to the project, including the analysis and assessment of environmentally relevant trends and the development of digital tools for emission reductions in households and the private sector. adelphi's knowledge on the development of indicators, operationalisation and the monitoring of sustainable consumption (such as the SDGs) also played a key role. In addition, adelphi brought its extensive experience with international projects to the study.