Digitalization and Sustainable Development – Enabling Narratives Towards a Green Digital Transformation

PRODIGEES Roundtable Discussion

Instituto Mora, Mexico, 04.05.2022


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), El Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora and Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Mexico through its Digital Transformation Centre (DTC)

Global sustainable development agendas and conceptual discussions on digital transformation are often still analyzed separately. Under the COVID 19 pandemic, digital transformation has shown the multiple benefits it can deliver for societies: new pathways for access to education, an impulse to technological and economic innovation, improvement in information availability for development decision making, among other examples.

Digital transformation has, consequently, a huge potential incidence in achieving global sustainable development agendas. Relevant processes impact directly critical areas for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030, such as the sustainable production and consumption (SDG 12) and affordable and sustainable energy (SDG 7). Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognizes in its recent report on climate change mitigation (Working Group III), that the digital transformation poses a huge potential in terms of decarbonization through measures such as energy efficiency actions, sustainable energy, or smart cities development. Nevertheless, it may have some trade-offs in achieving other SDGs, causing for instance a rise in energy demand, more inequality breaches, employment reduction and a bigger digital gap globally (IPCC, 2022: TS-132). Current global decisions facing a quick recovery derived from the COVID-19 pandemics may pose additional challenges for linking both major trends, limiting the possibilities for a digital-based green transformation process. While in some countries digital transformation has habilitated the possibility to return to pre-pandemic economic and environmental development indicators, many countries face challenges to seize these opportunities, fighting instead deeper inequalities in terms of digitalization and inclusion.

Under these scenarios, an analysis of the complexity surrounding both sustainable development and digital transformation narratives becomes necessary. It is important to identify the elements that may integrate these narratives, able to link both major trends under an international development cooperation approach:

  • What do we know about global trends in sustainable development and digital transformation?
  • Which is the linkage between both trends and what are their main challenges and promises?
  • Which are the main underlying/competing narratives on digitalization and how do they best serve sustainable development efforts?
  • How to move towards a narrative of a green digital transformation agenda?


This event is part of the EU Horizon2020 project PRODIGEES and the MGG network in coordination between the German Development (DIE), the Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. Jose María Luis Mora and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Mexico through the “Digital Transformation Centre in Mexico” (DTC). The event aims to integrate a dialogue platform regarding the relevance of digital transformation towards a green transformation agenda, considering the main challenges of global sustainable development agendas. The target audience of the event are relevant academic actors and partners interested in digital transformation, along with other actors from civil society, public institutions, and international partners.

The discussion around the narratives may strengthen a global vision on mutual reinforcement and complementarity of both trends, so both transformation processes become real, possible, and visible (UNEP, 2022).

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