TECHNOLOGY TRENDS Digitalization

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to a digital economy, transforming the way we work and forcing us to adapt to a digital environment faster than we would have otherwise. These rapid changes to the ways we work, live, and do business have gained traction and become more permanent fixtures in our everyday lives. We now have an opportunity to harness these changes to drive a more efficient transition to low-carbon economies.

Climate change and the imperative to reach net-zero require that we use all the tools at our disposal, including and especially digital technologies, to adapt infrastructure and buildings, transport, energy systems and industry. Digital systems will of course play an important role in changing methods of energy generation, distribution, and consumption. But they will also be important in sectors like agriculture, which is leveraging the digital transformation to increase the resilience of food systems as well. As the World Bank points out, the digital agriculture revolution is different than earlier revolutions because it is starting from multiple entry points along the food chain simultaneously, generating large amounts of data and fuelling the emergence of digital platforms disrupting business models in the agri-food system.

Big data analytics have rapidly developed in recent years, providing ever-increasing capacity to collect and analyse immense amounts of data. The emergence of cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and other tools are increasingly being used in climate science and technology. Several digital tools are game changers, enabling the development of innovative solutions for some highly complex problems. For example, in the agriculture sector, mobile technologies, remote-sensing, e-commerce, live broadcast and mobile banking practices are improving smallholder access to information and markets and can increase productivity while reducing costs. ICTs are helping to reduce food insecurity, protect the environment, and achieve the SDGs.