How can companies keep pace with the digitalization of business processes while adapting to climate targets? And how can they use this change strategically and in a value-creating way for themselves to become sustainably fit for the future? When SMEs and start-ups, researchers and creative professionals learn from each other, new and sustainable solutions emerge. Games technologies in particular offer important new approaches here. The digital transformation can thus be used as an opportunity for sustainable innovation across all sectors.
Many creative professionals and SMEs have long since embraced these goals: game developers who release games on sustainability topics, XR experts who use game mechanics for resource-saving products and new offerings, companies that engage in upcycling or deal with new mobility solutions. We want to strengthen these approaches and connect the players with each other.
Games mechanics can help develop motivating practices and user-centered products in the context of sustainability. Games companies and UX designers have special expertise in activation, motivation, reward, community thinking and user-centered design. With the help of their experience and approach, games companies can support small and medium-sized enterprises to bring sustainable innovation into their business.
SMEs and other organizations have the opportunity to see the change process associated with digitalization and climate and sustainability goals not as a threat, but as an innovation opportunity. Company organization and development, customer relationships, business model, services, products and product cycles, marketing, services and sales, and even employee motivation can be rethought and realigned.
Climate targets, especially CO2 reduction, the use of affordable and clean energy and recyclable materials require a profound rethinking of the company's own performance and production processes. The change process will be all the more successful and successful if it is understood and accepted as a goal and is designed in a motivating manner.
When we talk about innovation, there is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, virtual reality, quantum computing and other technologies. However, these are not goals in themselves, but technical solutions that can help us achieve our goals as entrepreneurs, users or citizens in business and society.
This raises the fundamental question of what values we want to pursue and who is the focus of our goals: the company - the so-called "consumer"- the environment - values such as justice or equal opportunity?
For Rafael Laguna de la Vera, who heads the Federal Agency for Leap Innovation, progress is the maximization of happiness for the greatest number of people possible, and this increase in the happiness of some must never come at the expense of others. (BRAND 1 Dec. 2020, p 68)
According to Siegfried Behrendt, head of the Technology and Innovation Research Cluster at the Berlin Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment IZT, new technology must create and promote prosperity and justice for all, and in his view this can only be done in the long term by strictly adhering to what our planet can tolerate. Since it is very difficult to exnovate, i.e., to abandon earlier innovations if they create comfort but at the same time destroy the basis of life, the withdrawal scenarios should be considered from the outset in an impact assessment - if the new should prove to be harmful.
Three strategies should therefore be pursued in innovations:
Efficiency strategy: improvement of devices or processes so that they require less energy or resources for the same or better performance
Consistency strategy: fundamentally changing the quality of a product or an industrial process
Sufficiency strategy: social innovations: Abandon waste, consume, change lifestyles (Interview BRAND 1 Dec 2020, p 68)
Prof. Dr. Maja Göpel, political economist and co-founder of Scientists4Future, criticizes the current consumer and growth orientation of the economy and asks in her book "Rethinking Our World" how we can find a way of life that reconciles the well-being of the planet with that of humanity.
"We need to ask ourselves what the purpose of a technology revolution should be, instead of pushing digitization for the sake of digitization. ...Who needs innovation on this planet today that doesn't help improve sustainability? No one! Only that which supports sustainability should still be called an innovation at all."
The Parisian sociologist of science and technology, anthropologist and philosopher Bruno Latour fundamentally questions our previous "world view", which understands people as separate from nature and the planet, where humans makes use of the earth's resources but is not subject to them: "The globe has so far shaped our relationship to the earth. One astronomical body among many, divided into degrees of longitude and latitude, seen from an impossible perspective from outside and at a distance from us, is the image that describes our relationship to our living world as a distant, mechanical, and above all controllable one." But this old worldview has had its day: extreme weather, forced species extinction, glacier melt and sea level rise. These feedbacks to human intervention in the Earth's Anthropocene are forcing a correction. What we are currently experiencing, Latour says, is not a crisis - that remains. What is needed, therefore, is not hope, the enemy of action, but politics.
The exhibition Critical Zones at the ZKM Karlsruhe, designed with Bruno Latour, starts with this necessary change of perspective, and calls on us to realize that we are not on the globe, but within the "Critical Zone", embedded in its diverse, dynamic processes. The term "Critical Zone" is taken from the earth sciences and refers to the biochemical, fragile and highly reactive membrane, only a few kilometers thick, in which all life has evolved or in which it has created its own conditions for survival. By Bruno Latour the term is extended into the philosophical to a critical, participatory relationship of ourselves in our living world, whose threatened condition has reached unprecedented proportions in a history of the earth now shaped by man.
At the heart of the exhibition is the question of what policies we want to enact to keep the earth habitable. In particular, Lynn Margulis' research and her theory of the symbiotic planet are highly topical clues here for a new understanding of sustainable life.
More information on Critical Zones: Barbara Kiolbassa from ZKM presented at the Creatables Conference in October 2020 this new approach of symbiotic living in the Critical Zone of our planet, which could be a new benchmark of sustainable business.