Digital Technologies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals
Panel - 60 Min
In this session, we will delve into the global shift towards clean energy and highlight the crucial role played by emerging technologies in enabling this transition. Recognizing the potential of these emerging technologies to accelerate the energy transition, we will emphasize the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in the deployment thereof. With our increasing reliance on natural energy sources, we are faced with the challenge of effectively matching supply and demand. In some areas, these sources are not consistently available, while in others, energy may be abundant. As energy grids are struggling to meet the growing demand for electricity, digital technologies – particularly artificial intelligence (AI) – present opportunities to balance the energy grid. While AI can support the energy transition, the sustainability of AI itself should also be accounted for. To encourage the adoption of sustainable AI as a driving force behind the energy transition, accessibility of knowledge and resources is vital. Our discussions will revolve around the ethical dimensions, social impact and best practices to ensure that the international adoption of emerging technologies in the energy sector fosters inclusivity and bridges the development gap. Join us as we explore innovative approaches that promote equitable and sustainable growth in the context of the global energy transition.
Interaction between online and offline participants will be facilitated through the active involvement of both moderators. The online moderator should actively ask questions in the chat to the online participants in order to engage them in the discussions and make them feel encouraged to share their voice. Additionally, we will use Mentimeter to get a sense of what people joining the session think on statements related to the use of emerging technologies in enhancing an inclusive energy transition.
Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
Alisa Heaver, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Government, WEOG Marjolijn Bonthuis, NLIGF, Civil Society, WEOG Hannah Boute, Electronic Commerce Platform Netherlands (ECP), Civil Society, WEOG Dorijn Boogaard, NLIGF, Civil Society, WEOG
Hannah Boute, ECP | Platform for the Information Society, Civil Society, WEOG; Chantarapeach UT, Civil Society, Impact Hub Phnom Penh, Asia Pacific; Tim Vermeulen, Alliander, Private sector, WEOG; Neil Yorke-Smith, TU Delft, Academia, WEOG.
Targets: This session related to both SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. The use of emerging technologies to accelerate the energy transition is crucial to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix as well as improvements in energy efficiency. Especially SDG 7.3a and b are in line with this session's focus, aiming to enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy and technology and expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services dor all-in developing countries. Therefore, the topic of fostering an inclusive energy transition is in line with the goal of affordable and clean energy. Furthermore, this session also supports SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals by emphasizing the importance of cooperation, knowledge exchange, and accessibility of environmentally sound technologies.
1. Artificial Intelligence can play a crucial role in the energy transition, but the ethical considerations must be taken into account. This requires a multistakeholder border crossing dialogue to make sure various perspectives are incorporated.
2. Leverage the power of youth in accelerating the energy transition and enable them to make a meaningful change on a local level.
1. The IGF should strengthen international multistakeholder collaboration and exchange of knowledge on the topic of environment and sustainability.
2. Take values into account when utilising technologies such as Artificial Intelligence for accelerating the energy transition.
This Open Forum focused on the role of AI in the Energy transition. With various perspectives at the table, the speakers discussed both the possibilities of AI and possible implications of the use of emerging technologies in the energy transition. Alisa Heaver, Senior Policy Officer at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, opened the session by emphasizing the relevance of the topic and introducing the speakers. She highlighted the lack of references to sustainability in the policy brief presented by the tech envoy and advocated for a more pronounced emphasis on this crucial issue. Additionally, she underscored the historical relevance of the venue, where the Kyoto Protocol was signed, as a symbolic cue to prioritize sustainability in the context of digitalization and global collaboration.
Before starting with the presentations and discussion on the role of AI in the energy transition, Hannah Boute, secretary of the Dutch Coalition for Sustainable Digitization and expert on the Guidance Ethics approach, firstly elaborated on the Dutch Coalition for Sustanable Digitzation and after thatexplained the format of the session with help of the Guidance Ethics approach.
The NCDD is a Dutch initiative that, together with government, industry, university and civil society, works on enabling sustainable digitization and exploring the possibilities of technology to accelerate sustainability in verticals, for example the chances of ai for the energy transition. The NCDD is working on enabling the twin transition and next to that works, among other subjects, on the implementation of green software, enabling organizations to make their own IT green and standards for sustainability in IT.
The Guidance Ethics approach is a bottom-up ethical method developed by Professor Peter Paul Verbeek, Rector Magnificus of the University of Amsterdam and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Science and Technology, and Daniël Tijink, responsible for ethics and strategy with the management team of ECP, platform for the information society.
The approach brings together people, or actors, from four perspectives who are involved with a technology in a specific context. People who develop the technology (ICT), the professionals that will be working with the technology, people from policy or management and people who will be confronted with the technology such as citizens. Together with these people the possible postive and negative effects of a technology within a specific context are explores. Behind effects, values can be found. During a workshop with the guidance ethics approachways to incorporate the identified values in the design of new technology, the implementation of technology and how we use technology within a specific context are explored.
Today, we will not be doing a workshop with the Guidance ethics approach, but we will use it to explore the ethical dimensions of the application of AI in the energy transition. Neil Yorke-Smith will explain us how AI might be applied for the Energy Transition. After his explanation. Tim Vermeulen from Alliander will elaborate on the application of AI in the energy transition from a European perspective and Peach from the innovation hub in Cambodia will do so from the South East Asian perspective.
Hannah actively requested participants to join the process of recognising values in the session by identifying them and submitting these values in the Mentimeter. During the panel discussion these values will be used to discuss the possible options for action to sustain these values in the design of AI, the application of AI on the energy grid and how we work with the technology in this context.
Neil Yorke-Smith, Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology and part of the working group Energy & Sustainability of the NL AI Coalition, then further explained the role of AI in the energy transition. Neil emphasized that Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the energy sector, but its implementation must be carefully considered to ensure that it is ethical, sustainable, and beneficial for all stakeholders.
One of the key benefits of AI in the energy system is the potential for enhancing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of energy utilization. The utilization of AI extends to various areas within the energy sector, including forecasting, system design, real-time balancing, demand response, and flexible pricing. These diverse applications of AI serve to significantly augment the efficiency and efficacy of the energy system, ultimately facilitating a shift away from reliance on fossil-based fuels.
In the pursuit of incorporating AI into the energy sector, several crucial ethical, legal, social, and economic considerations need to be taken into account. While AI offers many opportunities, the societal impact is not yet fully understood. To ensure that AI is implemented in the energy sector in a responsible and sustainable manner, it is essential to thoroughly examine the ethical, legal, social, and economic implications.
Furthermore, it is imperative to factor in societal values when designing AI systems, considering the preferences and values of potential consumers and society as a whole. Value-sensitive design emphasises the incorporation of values in the design. In conjunction with this, there is a call for a focus on code efficiency, aiming to reduce the size and resource consumption of AI algorithms, ultimately fostering sustainable practices. Long-term decision-making is also critical, prompting consideration of the lasting consequences of present decisions, particularly concerning infrastructure that will endure for decades.
This also leads to the importance of accountability. It is essential to hold those responsible for developing AI systems accountable for their actions and the (environmental) impact of their technology. Furthermore, global cooperation is necessary, promoting the sharing of knowledge and experiences to facilitate the successful integration and advancement of AI within the energy system.
Neil concludes by stating that the implementation of AI in the energy system must be done in a manner that is both trustworthy and just, with a focus on fairness and sustainability. It is crucial to consider the ethical, legal, social, and economic aspects of AI implementation from the very beginning and incorporate societal values into the design process of AI technology. Furthermore, attention should be given to enhancing code efficiency and making long-term decisions that account for potential shifts in societal values. Holding developers accountable for their technology's impact and fostering global cooperation and learning are also integral to the successful integration of AI in the energy system.
Tim Vermeulen, Digital Strategy & Architecture at Alliander and member of the strategy board of the Dutch National Coalition on Sustainable Digitalisation, shared his perspective on the role of AI in the energy transition from a European perspective. He stated that the energy landscape in Europe is undergoing rapid transformation, primarily propelled by technological advancements such as AI and open-source technologies. While these developments offer promising opportunities, they also pose challenges, notably the potential introduction of biases in energy distribution and access.
In this dynamic context, fairness emerges as a critical consideration for the energy transition, encompassing not only equitable energy distribution but also the reduction of CO2 emissions. Given the diverse energy mixes and unique challenges within different regions, it becomes crucial to approach the transition with a modular perspective, accounting for the specific circumstances and requirements of each country.
Tim explained how the key factors shaping Europe's energy landscape include transparency, modularity, and technology. The adoption of a modular technology system enables collaborative resource-sharing among nations, fostering an open and cooperative approach to the development of a more sustainable energy sector. Sustainability, fairness, and integrity represent core values in Europe's approach to energy. Access to energy is regarded as a universal right, with the preservation of the energy system's integrity being indispensable for achieving sustainability and fairness.
Efficiency and awareness play vital roles in the development of applications that drive the energy transition. Tim further emphasized the creation of clean and efficient code across all sectors as it directly influences the shift toward cleaner energy sources. Recognizing that every job has the potential to contribute to a clean and affordable energy future, the significance of a comprehensive approach across various sectors is highlighted. This underscores the importance of acknowledging the influence of jobs in shaping the energy transition.
Furthermore, technology remains a significant catalyst, unlocking new possibilities and advancements across different segments within the energy sector. Experts acknowledge the potential of openness and complexity in technology, underscoring the need for continuous innovation and development. To foster a successful global energy transition, the sharing of knowledge and values on a global scale is imperative. Effectively managing the knowledge-based landscape on a global level serves as a fundamental driver of progress and collaboration within the energy sector.
In conclusion, Europe's energy landscape is undergoing rapid evolution, accompanied by various advancements and challenges. Tim explained that fairness, transparency, modularity, technology, efficiency, awareness, and global knowledge sharing emerge as pivotal factors shaping the transition toward a more sustainable, fair, and affordable energy future.
Chantarapeach UT,Space and Sustainable Operation Officer at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, underscores that youth-driven innovation and entrepreneurship in green technology serve as crucial drivers in expediting the energy transition and combating climate change. Chantarapeach emphasises the necessity of backing the initiatives of young individuals in this domain through both financial and technical support, awareness campaigns, and the incorporation of inclusive decision-making processes.
The scope of youth-led technological breakthroughs in green technology encompasses a diverse array of fields, ranging from green energy engineering and smart agriculture to optimizations in renewable energy, air quality monitoring, green building solutions, climate modeling, and eco-friendly transportation. Empowering young individuals to pioneer innovative responses to environmental challenges represents a significant stride toward the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and 13 (Climate Action).
An essential aspect of facilitating youth involvement in the energy transition involves raising awareness and fostering exposure to green jobs. Green jobs contribute to the advancement of sustainable energy practices, providing a multitude of opportunities for young individuals to pursue careers in areas such as green AI research, sustainability data analysis, renewable energy engineering, and clean tech research. By disseminating information and inspiring young people about these prospects, we can encourage their active participation in careers that contribute to a sustainable energy future, aligning with SDGs 7 and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
Furthermore, the inclusion of young voices in decision-making processes concerning digital policy and climate change proves critical in ensuring an all-encompassing and fair energy transition. Platforms like the Cambodian Youth Internet Governance Forums and the Local Conference of Youth under UNGO serve as crucial spaces for young people to engage and express their viewpoints on these pivotal matters. By integrating the perspectives of the youth into the decision-making process, we can establish more efficient and inclusive energy systems, thus aligning with SDGs 7 and 13.
She also emphasizes the role of harnessing renewable energy more effectively in Asia, where many countries heavily rely on fossil fuels. By concentrating on renewable energy technologies and enhancing energy sharing arrangements, Asia can lessen its dependence on non-renewable resources and promote sustainability, thereby aligning with SDG 7.
In conclusion, Chantarapeach advocated for a comprehensive approach in supporting youth-led innovation and entrepreneurship in green technology. By providing both financial and technical assistance, promoting awareness of green jobs, involving young voices in decision-making processes, and maximizing the potential of renewable energy in Asia, we can empower and mobilize the youth to expedite the development of a sustainable energy future and combat climate change. Collaboration between the youth and adults remains pivotal in accelerating an inclusive energy transition.
Collaboration and dialogue between policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society were essential themes throughout the panel discussion, emphasizing the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders from different sectors and regions to foster inclusive decision-making and equitable distribution of the benefits of an energy transition. The discussion also highlighted the immense potential of AI in driving an inclusive energy transition. However, technological advancements alone are insufficient for achieving an inclusive energy transition, necessitating a holistic approach encompassing social, economic, and environmental dimensions. Additionally, the panel discussion brought up the urgency of incorporating values in the design of technologies, addressing equity and social justice issues to prevent the perpetuation of existing disparities in energy access and affordability.