An initiative seeking opportunities to disrupt the systems sustaining our unsustainability and building the knowledge and tools towards a more sustainable and equitable world in the digital age.

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Victoria Curl

Project Coordinator


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies have the potential to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing societal problems, such as climate change, biodiversity, food insecurity, public health risks, and equity. The transformational capabilities of the digital age might even be a necessity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, as set out by the United Nations (UN).

Yet, global sustainability is not an inevitable outcome of the digital revolution. In fact, the digital transformation has helped drive the exponential rise of the human imprint on the natural environment that now threatens the resilience of Earth systems, and there remains a significant risk that technological advancement will exacerbate inequalities and escalate social injustice. The digital revolution has the potential to help transform society to a more sustainable and equitable world but only if there is a conscious effort to steer it in that direction.

Futures CoLab

The Sustainability in the Digital Age project team worked in collaboration with Futures CoLab to run an online facilitated dialogue exercise from March 4 to March 24, 2019. The goal is to explore disruptions to the systems sustaining unsustainability and opportunities to shift society toward a more equitable and sustainable parth. The opportunities and challenges identified in this exercise will be used to inform the Research and Innovation Agenda.

Current Activities

Research and Innovation Agenda

Future Earth is working to produce a Research and Innovation Agenda under the guidance of the Expert Advisory Committee to identify opportunities and challenges for transformations towards a more equitable and sustainable world in the digital age.  


Sustainability in the Digital Age Dialogues

AI & Society: Sustainability in the Digital Age Workshop

September 18-20, 2019

With support from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), this workshop convened experts in tech innovation, systems-science, sustainability, and policy from around the world to explore the opportunities and challenges for identifying levers for systemic change.

This workshop explored questions such as:

  • What are the biggest levers for systemic change toward global sustainability that are nested in, and can be driven by the digital age?
  • What are the effects of algorithm biases on society and sustainability?
  • What are the ethical and legal considerations for AI-enabled systems of nudging humans towards sustainable lifestyles?
  • What enforcement mechanisms might foster effective ecological corporate responsibility?

Sustainability in the Digital Age I: Resilience facing Global Changes

May 21, 2019

This workshop is the first of a series on the theme “Sustainability in the Digital Age”, organized under the leadership of Future Earth. The purpose of the workshop is to seed a global initiative around sustainability in the digital age.

The workshop will focus on problems worth solving and transformative opportunities that can lead to systems change for addressing climate change, biodiversity erosion and global sustainability more broadly.

Google Earth Engine

March 29, 2019

Google’s Chief Extraterrestrial Observer Noel Gorelick gave a brief talk on Google Earth Engine: Planetary scale analysis for societal benefit. He provided an overview of the Earth Engine platform and how it is being used to address some of society’s biggest challenges, followed by an open discussion.

Earth Engine is a data analysis and visualisation platform built on top of Google’s massive computing infrastructure. Hosting a 25PB catalog of satellite and remote sensing data, Earth Engine helps many thousands of users from around the world measure, monitor and map the environment at planetary scale.

Expert Advisory Committee

Valérie Bécaert
Nick Beglinger
Dr. Anik Bhaduri
Mark de Blois
Owen Gaffney
Steven Guilbeault
Dan Hammer
Tom Hassenboehler
Cyrus Hodes
Ravi Jain
Lyse Langlois
Sylvia Lee
Mats Linder
Amy Luers
Kevin Mo
Mathilde Mougeot
Per Olsson
Renata Piazzon
Valérie Pisano
Asunción Lera St. Clair
Gina Ziervogel