As part of the German government's AI strategy, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUV) is funding projects that use artificial intelligence to address ecological challenges and are exemplary for environmentally, climate, health and nature-friendly digitalization ('AI lighthouses'). A total of more than 300 ideas were submitted, of which 28 will be funded.
During an event organized by the BMUV, State Secretary Stefan Tidow also handed over the funding notification to the ZuSiNa project, among other projects. The overall aim of the project is to improve the accessibility and visibility of sustainability information in an online context. It initially focuses on the textile sector. The predecessor project KI4NK identified two major hurdles to greater sustainability in online consumption that can be removed with AI. First, on the part of companies: Currently, their costs of obtaining credible sustainability information are high. With ZuSiNa, the project will make it easier for companies to access information about credible certifications as well as other relevant sustainability information. This means that it will be less burdensome for companies to include this information in their product ranges and in the information they offer on search engines, price comparison portals and online stores. On the other hand, on the consumer side: Although Internet sites basically have the potential to simplify sustainable consumption for consumers, these possibilities are often not used today. ZuSiNa aims to show how consumers shopping on search engines, price comparison portals and online stores can be made easier to choose sustainable products and services through design and user guidance. This includes changes in the following areas:
- The presentation of search results,
- The selection and presentation of more sustainable product recommendations through proposal algorithms,
- filtering options, and
- The display and presentation of credible sustainability information more generally.
The 24-month project began in March 2022 and is being conducted jointly by the ConPolicy Institute, Fraunhofer IAO (CeRRI), Fraunhofer ISI, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). In addition, wide-ranging partners from the business world have been recruited for the project, including Google Germany, idealo, Otto Group, Avocado-Store, Tchibo, Blauer Engel, GOTS and Oeko-Tex, as well as BEVH.