How municipalities can work with digitalisation for environmental aims

Abstract: Humanity is facing big environmental challenges. Apart from the climate changes, there is also an ongoing depletion of the natural resources necessary for our survival in general, and for highly electronics-dependant lifestyles especially. At the same time, both urbanisation and digitalisation are progressing at a rapid pace. Digitalisation holds a potential to decrease environmental impact from cities and urban lifestyles, and many cities want to increase their use of digital technologies and services. This is often at least partially motivated by environmental concerns. In these cases, it is often the municipality that is responsible for strategies and support of increased digitalisation.This dissertation places itself in the Smart Sustainable City field, but more specifically aims to support municipalities’ work with digitalisation for environmental goals. The results are structured around three parts. The first part accounts for six cities’ promising digital solutions with possible environmental benefits, and of possible digital tools to support two EU directives that can affect municipalities’ environmental work. The second part suggests how municipalities can work with digitalisation for environmental goals, and especially stresses evaluation and strategic investments. The third part looks at possible long-term societal changes in relation to digitalisation, and the risks with a city depending on electronics: It is important that a city can remain adequately functional, even in the case of a short- or long term shortage of resources and/or energy.Finally, I discuss some of the uncertainties in digitalisation for environmental goals. There are uncertainties regarding digitalisation’s actual effects, which can make it harder to know what investments to make. Implementing digital technologies for municipal aims often demands cooperation between actors with different interests, but if the municipality relates its decision to environmental goals, it facilitates demanding that digital services and tools have environmental benefits.