Digital innovation is a powerful tool in the fight against climate change, but to be truly effective, drastic changes in thinking and the tools we are using are needed, says Bjorn-Soren Gigler, Head of Data Economics and Blockchain Technology at the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ). The expert Gigler told us more about it on 30th of November during the virtual DigiGreen conference organised by the Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park together with the InnoCAPE project consortium.

Conventional business models may seem appropriate in the short run, but in the long run, a shift to sustainable models is needed. This is primarily due to the need to tackle climate change and the lack of sustainable processes that complicate this challenge. Thus, novel solutions are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect nature and society, while at the same time providing opportunities for businesses to grow and generate sustainable profits. According to Gigler, there is a lot of room for digitisation here.


Traditional sectors need to do the most

According to Gigler, the financial technology (FinTech sector) was the first to adapt to most digital innovations. More broadly, although sectors such as robotics are leading the way on our continent, Europe is not very advanced in digitising traditional economic activities such as agriculture, construction or tourism.

Stronger collaboration with developers of different technologies would help to make progress, making it easier to find and adapt the innovations needed.

“In Kenya, for example, the digital transformation is driven by a strong local start-up ecosystem that develops and can offer technological solutions that address important issues in the country’s agriculture or challenge other traditional sectors. It is becoming clear that there is a need to create an open innovation system that brings together European and global high-tech developers in a collaborative way, ”he said.

Still, the speed of digitisation in the country itself depends heavily on their political and economic context. B. S. Gigler argues that the most important component of digital transformation there is being a person-centered, enabling all individuals and businesses to maximise the benefits of digital technology for their individual needs.

“We need to change the usual way of business development – we should not adapt digital technologies to the existing business model. Frequently, small and medium-sized businesses first identify specific business and only then look for what technologies would allow them to achieve sustainability. To reap the full benefits, it is critical to change this routine business development and planning processes, ”say Gigler.


Insights shared during the DigiGreen conference

On 30th of November, during the DigiGreen conference, international Interreg BSR InnoCAPE project partners and guest speakers were presenting not only about the project achievements, but also addressing the need of overlap between digital technologies and sustainability for positive change in business and climate. The event also focused on discussing innovation and its potential, sharing good practice in green and digital change in Northern European businesses, and the opportunities for funding DIHs provide. You can tune into the event recording below:

The Digi Green conference is the final event of the Interreg BSR program project InnoCAPE. During the implementation period, the project brought together 11 partner organisations from the Baltic Sea region, which pursued the common goal of increasing the region’s competitiveness in the global market.