The promise of green growth
The following years will be critical for the route to green growth, which implies fostering long-term economic growth and development. To achieve green growth in Switzerland, governments, corporations, civil society actors, academics, and others must all work together; in short, we are all responsible. To achieve such a monumental task ahead of us, a collaborative mindset to co-create the needed solutions is the most promising way forward.
Even if Switzerland's negative environmental impact per person has fallen by around 20% in the previous 20 years, consumption, and manufacturing patterns are still unsustainable. Under current conditions, Switzerland's CO2 reduction target of 2030 is unlikely to be met. As a result, technology is already playing and will continue to play a pivotal role in achieving our Swiss CO2 targets. Moreover, Switzerland developed a “2030 Sustainable Development Strategy” and a referring action plan to address the three main objectives:
- sustainable consumption and production
- climate, energy, and biodiversity
- equal opportunities and social cohesion
The country's “Digital Switzerland” strategy provides a framework for leveraging digital technologies to address ESG-related challenges. As a result, a sophisticated ecosystem that focuses on leveraging breakthrough technology to address critical challenges is already in place, aided by the recently formed Swiss Innovation Fund to promote start-ups.
The “Digital Switzerland” strategy emphasizes the convergence of the digital and green transitions. To promote green growth facilitated by technology, the Tech for Sustainability Circle perceives a call to action in three areas:
- Switzerland creates guidelines, frameworks, and assistance for key players from the public, corporate, and academic sectors focusing on the role of technology in achieving the specified 2030 and 2050 green growth sustainability targets
- Switzerland should stimulate and support technological innovation creation and implementation, as well as the exchange of best practices, to expedite positive sustainability effects and assure the attainment of the 2030 and 2050 sustainability targets
- Switzerland will develop guidelines, frame conditions, and provide support to promote responsible technology usage, including reducing one's personal environmental footprint and considering and mitigating social impacts
Empowering impactful responsible AI
By combining Switzerland’s 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy with its Digital Strategy, the goal is to use advanced technology to tackle tomorrow's challenges. AI is one of the potential technological categories that is attaining this goal. Unleashing the potential of data and AI opens up an infinite number of economical options, eventually improving the quality of our lives.
As business models become increasingly digitized, human lives are impacted significantly by design choices of algorithm creators. Companies are on the verge of integrating their sustainability plans into their digital, data, and (AI) strategies and governance. All aspects of social and environmental responsibility need to be weaved into AI developments. In short: We require “Responsible AI”, which enables the design, development and deployment of systems and solutions based on models of fairness and responsibility. To ensure responsible use, governments must take steps to make responsible AI the standard in their respective countries. Switzerland should explore enacting standards for trusted AI comparable to the European Commission's AI Law. This strategy should be included in a global education and knowledge exchange approach.
With its political and historically neutral position in the global community, Switzerland might serve as a cornerstone to organize and drive worldwide collaborative efforts to further develop, nurture, and create notions of “responsible AI,” solutions, and platforms.
Therefore, we conclude the following call for action for organizations, societies, and governments:
- When implementing AI solutions, consider how to comply with the most recent legislations, such as the European Union's Artificial Intelligence Act and the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI
- Consider concepts and methods to build trust and responsibility across the lifespan of your AI portfolio, such as Fairness, Safety & Responsibility, Privacy & Security, Explainability, Inclusiveness, Transparency, and Accountability
- Because technology and sustainability are interconnected, organizations must place sustainability at the center of their business and technology strategies and technology at the heart of their sustainability journey to survive and grow. Similarly, any policy framework that promotes long-term change must include a digital transformation to accomplish any ambitious climate and environmental goals
- Regulations such as the EU's Artificial Intelligence Act are already impacting many Swiss enterprises and organizations. While efforts should be taken to guarantee responsible technology and AI, legislation should consider and, in certain circumstances, allow AI-supported adaptation not to restrict technical and societal progress
- AI regulations should prioritize empowering and safeguarding individuals, while citizens must be better informed on norms and guiding principles, particularly in the context of “Responsible AI” advancements