At the beginning of 2018, seven NGOs from the sustainability sector joined forces with three civil society organisations from the field of network policy to organise the major conference Bits & Bäume. The main topics were the material basis of digitalisation, environmental and network policy, digital infrastructures or fundamental questions, for example on democratic societies in times of digitalisation.
The topics of digitalisation and sustainability are highly relevant for our society. At the successful first Bits & Bäume Conference 2018, the goal was to create a common foundation. How can digitalisation be framed in such a way that it serves the common good and peace, takes data protection seriously and promotes social and ecological goals in equal measure? The two days of the conference were a prelude to common positions on sustainable digitalisation and an impulse for intensive exchange as well as political activities.
Following the conference, the book "Was Bits und Bäume verbindet" was published in 2019.
At the second conference from 30 September to 2 October 2022, numerous organisations, individuals and international speakers came together to discuss the major social and global challenges for a just and sustainable shaping of our environment. At the interface of sustainability and digitalisation, the topics included connected mobility, raw material and power requirements of digital devices, data sufficiency and cooperative platform economy as well as smart energy networks or monopolisation tendencies in the digital economy.
Consisting of 13 organisations spanning fields of environmental protection, nature conservation, digital policy, development cooperation and science, the Bits & Bäume appeal to the German government, the European Union and political actors worldwide to drive necessary changes towards sustainable development. On the basis of the Bits & Bäume Conference 2022, more than 60 demands were published in five thematic areas. Among other things, digitalisation should be put more at the service of society and social and ecological change. Digital technologies should contribute to the improvement of living conditions and of the environment through equal social participation and while respecting planetary boundaries, instead of exacerbating already existing crises through exploding energy and resource consumption and a lack of consideration of the Global South.
For more than two years, the Forum Bits & Bäume offers an open discussion space in order to focus more on the sustainable design of digitization and to introduce scientific and civil society issues and demands into the political discourse. The events will be conducted in dialogue formats with active workshop elements in order to develop concrete policy proposals and design options and prepare them for public and political debates.
The Forum Bits & Bäume is organised by the scientific research group "Digitisation and Social-Ecological Transformation" of IÖW and TU Berlin in cooperation with the Einstein Center Digital Future and other changing partners. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the funding priority social-ecological research (SÖF).