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Green IO Paris: Panel with NGOs on Sustainable Software
Events
11 Dec 2023

Green IO Paris: Panel with NGOs on Sustainable Software

Max Schulze
Max Schulze

The societal challenges we are facing will be solved by people - not by technology and machines.

People talking to each other. Software is made by people. Digitalization alone does not solve climate change. Or inequality. It’s people that create that change.

If you are writing software, you can make a difference by addressing the environmental impact of the software you are creating. 

Awareness for the environmental impact of software is growing but remains a niche topic unless we taken action.

In 2023, the movement has grown with more organizations, tooling and businesses pushing into the emerging field of Green Software.

But we need to be cautious, as it still remains a niche, a niche we all need to work together to continuously expand, to bring more people into our bubble. To share our knowledge and make it easy for people to take a first step - to measure, to share the environmental impact and to learn how to take action to reduce it.

We can’t splinter now as a sustainable software community, we are still small, we are the challengers of the current market and we need to agree on our common priorities: Transparency, standardization and policies that support a new market for resource-efficient, transparent and environmentally-friendly software.

Yes there are social aspects, there questions around sufficiency and the usefulness of digital products & services. Those we need to discuss, and address overtime. But addressing environmental impact - first through transparency and then through best practices & regulation - is the most tangible, the most actionable and urgently needed to halt the climate crisis.

Priorities

We need pan-European collaboration to find a common language for our digital world. We need to work together to set the standards on how to measure the environmental impact of digital products. And then we need to take it to the international community together.

We need to urgently regulate to create a market for resource-efficient, transparent and environmentally-friendly software. The first step is for all digital products to declare the environmental impact of their usage and make it transparent to the customers.

Nutritional facts on product packaging create transparency for food products - we need similar transparency for digital products.

We can further accelerate market-making by using both public and private procurement to demand transparency from the digital products that governments and companies are purchasing.

We have the research, methodologies and tools - but we need a market.

There is new tools, new research and methodologies appearing almost every week now - offering to help measure cloud infrastructure impacts, API impacts, software impacts and much more.

Yet when asked, most of these new businesses are lacking a key ingredient - actual demand. And that’s we need to change. Either by making it very expensive to make environment damaging - “bad” - software or by creating a market for “good” software - resource-efficient, transparent, environmentally-friendly.

It’s Europe that has to walk in front - environmentalism, efficiency and sustainability are in our DNA.

The largest digital product company in Europe is still SAP. We know that we did not create digital behemoths like the US has. But now comes the time for our contribution to our digital future. And that contribution is to show how software, digital products & services, can look like that support our climate & sustainability goals. 

We have a long history in optimization, in efficiency, a culture of making things better. Let’s use this history to be a role-model and use the European market to create a sustainable digital economy.

Panel Discussion with leading Sustainable IT & Software NGOs

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