Digitization and the Environment: Opportunities, Risks and the Need for Action

On behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, the Bern University of Applied Sciences has conducted a study on the opportunities and challenges that arise in the environmental sector in the course of the digitization of society.



In the context of the digitization of society, two types of changes are occurring in the environmental field: On the one hand, the use of and burden on the environment is changing. And on the other hand, new opportunities are emerging when it comes to environmental monitoring and protection. In order to adapt its strategy to the new circumstances, the FOEN wanted to see an overview that highlights the challenges and opportunities of digitization.

Course of action

The objective of the study was to highlight the opportunities and challenges posed by digitization for the environment and to identify needs for action. To this end, an analysis of the relevant literature was carried out and qualitative and quantitative surveys were conducted. In the qualitative part, 18 experts were interviewed. A total of 801 people participated in the more expansive online survey that followed the interviews.


The potential of digitization to make a positive contribution to the environmental situation is undisputed. However, this is not an automatic process, there is urgent need for action. The key lies in the creation of framework conditions: Legal foundations, economic incentives and measures suitable for counteracting the convenience of people in their everyday lives and providing incentives to reduce environmentally harmful consumption.

Looking ahead

The highlight of the subsequent campaign «Shaping a sustainable digital world» will be the online workshop on May 8, 2020. The challenge question: «How can digitization be used to achieve environmental goals?»

Vincent Van Gogh s Gemälde
Die Digitalisierung braucht einerseits mehr Ressourcen, hilft an anderen Stellen aber diese zu schonen.