Policy Paper on behalf of the German Federal Environment AgencyConPolicy co-author of publication 'Policy for sustainable consumption in the digital world'

The policy paper 'Policy for sustainable consumption in the digital world' forms the conclusion of the project 'Digitalization of markets and lifestyles: New challenges for sustainable consumption' and is part of the BMUV's lighthouse initiative 'Pathways and building blocks of a digital agenda for sustainable consumption'. The policy paper was written by IÖW (Maike Gossen and Vivian Frick), ConPolicy (Dr. Otmar Lell) and Dr. Gerd Scholl and was published by the Federal Environment Agency in September 2022.

This paper illustrates the levels of interplay between digitalization and consumption. As the digital transformation deepens, digitization is changing products and services, the way we consume, and the way politics, business, and society function. At all levels, the resulting changes can work for sustainable development, but they can also be fire accelerators of unsustainable developments. Based on this diagnosis, the policy paper formulates key recommendations for strengthening sustainable consumption in the digital world. In each case, the aim is to strengthen the environmentally friendly effects of digital technologies and to counter unsustainable developments.

The policy recommendations initially focus on the consumption of digital devices and services: These include the application of the EU Ecodesign Directive, a Right to Repair, and the establishment of transparency based on a digital product passport. Potential for sustainability-oriented consumer policy is seen in particular in synergy with consumer policy objectives. If the exploration and manipulation of consumers through personalized advertising strategies is ended, the consumption-increasing effect of the corresponding business models will be ended at the same time.  Finally, in order to steer the effects of digital business models on politics, the economy and society in a sustainable direction, large digital corporations should be obliged to safeguard public welfare concerns. At the same time, public good and sustainability-oriented business models should be promoted in the digital market.

You can find the study results here.

More information about the project can be found here.