By Nilushi Kumarasinghe

With current emission projections still leading us towards a path of climate disaster, there is an urgent call for all actors – investors, regulators, civil society, researchers, and innovators – to collaborate together to shift our systems and significantly advance our climate efforts. We need tools that can help us achieve these transformations fast to limit temperature increase to 1.5 °C. 

Recent studies (including the D^2S Agenda) demonstrate digital tools have the transformative potential to accelerate climate action and reduce emissions, but they can also exacerbate inequalities and unsustainable consumption. Building on these findings, Sustainability in the Digital Age, Future Earth, and ClimateWorks Foundation launched the Re-imagining Climate Governance in the Digital Age project in 2021. The project consulted more than 50 experts from over 14 countries to identify how best to leverage digital tools in an inclusive and sustainable way for climate action. 

Towards transformative climate governance

In a new report, Dynamic Philanthropy – A Framework for Supporting Transformative Climate Governance in the Digital Age, the project presents a strategic framework depicting action areas that are important for philanthropy and other catalytic actors when developing digitally enabled and effective climate solutions: 

  1. Co-learning and trust building
  2. Testing and co-development and
  3. Integration and scale

These entry points are centered around the key element of Fail forward and Share – destigmatizing failure to strengthen lesson learning. Together, they help overcome existing challenges faced by actors working in this space, such as the lack of trusted relationships, insufficient representation and involvement of local leaders, high investment risks, and poor uptake of solutions.

Currently, there is a disconnect between tech innovators, investors and philanthropists, and sustainability scientists. This is inhibiting the speed of progress and limiting the transformative potential of experimentation and collective deliberation at the nexus of digital innovation and environmental sustainability for a just transition.”

Éliane Ubalijoro, Global Hub Director, Future Earth Canada; Executive Director, Sustainability in the Digital Age

Connecting actors

As a complement to the strategic framework, our team created the Digital Climate Projects Database, a growing collection of over 200 examples of how digital technologies are being used for climate action across the globe. The database showcases the different applications of digital tools in climate action, the major actors in this space, as well as the gaps and needs. By increasing awareness of the actors and their work, the database can enhance connectivity and create potential collaborations.

“As catalysts, conveners, and community builders, philanthropy can help in this re-imagination by creating change through targeted investments that bridge diverse actors and by supporting key processes that help develop innovative, inclusive, and transformative climate solutions in the digital age.”

Casey Cronin, Director, Global Intelligence ClimateWorks Foundation

It is clear that this decade is our last chance, but action and climate finance gaps continue to this date. Some are even calling for a moratorium on climate change research until governance and the pace of action better reflect the seriousness of the climate crisis. We cannot act alone. We urge everyone to collaborate across sectors, scales, and geographies and leverage this strategic framework as a guide to accelerate and scale climate action in a sustainable and inclusive manner as we fight towards 1.5 °C in the digital age.

For more information on the Re-imagining Climate Governance in the Digital Age project, please contact  Nilushi Kumarasinghe at nilushi.kumarasinghe@futureearth.org.