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A new think tank at Concordia hopes to bridge digital innovation and climate action

‘Progress and societal transformations need to be amplified and accelerated’
November 17, 2022
Image of the earth from space, with points of light on the surface.
Damon Matthews: “If we could harness the innovative power of the digital world toward meeting climate goals, we might be able to start making real and rapid progress.”

From the advent of the steam engine to mass electrification, technological revolutions have reinvented societies, economies and the natural world. The digital revolution is no different. Yet the stakes have never been higher as the global community tries to avert a looming climate crisis and wrestles with increasing digital disparities between rich and poor nations.

It is against this backdrop that Concordia — in collaboration with Future Earth Canada Hub — will house Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA). It’s a think tank that brings together subject-matter experts who will explore how digital innovation can support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Damon Matthews is the Concordia University Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability and SDA scientific co-director. He asserts that, globally, we are not on track to meet any of our climate goals, and the same is true of many other metrics of the SDGs.

“Progress and societal transformations need to be amplified and accelerated, and this is where the digital revolution is key,” he says. “If we could harness the innovative power of the digital world toward meeting the world’s climate and other sustainability goals, we might be able to start making real and rapid progress.”

3 primary areas of focus

To this end, SDA seeks to influence policy changes to reach global climate goals, reverse biodiversity loss, support more equitable access to the digital economy and build public awareness on digital sustainability by focusing on three primary areas:

  • Research and innovation for new ways to scale and steer digital disruptions within environmental, social and economic systems
  • Policy and best practices that encourage sustainable and equitable digital transformations and develop guidance on how to avoid the risks associated with digital innovation
  • Training networks of multidisciplinary innovators, researchers and practitioners who are bilingual in both the digital and sustainability worlds

“SDA began through Future Earth, convening partners globally with key players of Quebec’s innovation ecosystem such as the Fonds de Recherche du Québec and Mila – Quebec AI Institute,” says Éliane Ubalijoro, executive director of SDA and the global hub director in Canada for Future Earth.

“This initiative will allow SDA to leverage Concordia’s existing local and global networks while contributing to the university’s ongoing sustainability research.”

For Dominique Bérubé, vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies, Concordia is the right fit to lead this ambitious new project.

“Sustainability is one of our research priorities and strengths with over 200 researchers contributing significant expertise to the field,” she says. “Concordia has committed to the Decade of Action by coordinating events with students, staff and faculty on how we can collectively achieve greater impact on a local and global scale.”

Learn more about the
Sustainability in the Digital Age think tank.

Don't miss the upcoming event, Sustainability in the Digital Age: In Conversation with Concordia's First Sustainability Think Tank, on November 30, 2022.

Learn more about sustainability at Concordia

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