Forum Bits & Bäume

Since 2018, Forum Bits & Bäume continues to offer an open discussion space in order to put greater emphasis on the sustainable design of digitalization and to introduce scientific and civil society topics and demands into the political discourse. The events are held in dialogue formats with active workshop elements in order to develop precise policy proposals and design options, and to prepare them for public and political discussion. The Forum Bits & Bäume is organized by the scientific research group "Digitalization and Social-Ecological Transformation" of IÖW and TU Berlin in cooperation with the Einstein Center Digital Future and other partners. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) via its Social-Ecological Research (SÖF) funding focus.


In December 2020, the EU Council has approved conclusions how to shape ‘Digitalization for the benefit of the environment’. In the same month, the European Commission has proposed the ‘Digital Services Act package’, which will now be further developed in a two-year process and may pave the way for a truly ‘European Way’ for governing the digital economy. This Symposium wants to provide a forum for debate amongst civil society organizations, science, and policy-makers how to join forces to address the question: How can digitalization be shaped in a way that nurtures common goods and respects planetary boundaries?

Existing analyses show that current forms of digitalization increase resource demand and aggravate social inequalities. Therefore, there is an urgent need for concerted action from civl society, science and politics, including strong regulatory frameworks to reap the sustainability benefits of digitalization and to include such demands into ongoing policy processes at national and EU levels. The event is a joint initiative by the Einstein Center Digital Future/ TU Berlin, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and Leuphana University. The Opening Panel will introduce the issue and the scope of the Symposium and three parallel breakout groups will discuss the European approach for a sustainable digitalization from different perspectives:

  • With a view to policy-makers, the Symposium will discuss which enablers are needed at a social, organizational, and individual level for a sustainable digital transformation;
  • With a view to the science-policy interface and scientists from all disciplines, the Symposium will bring together researchers from European academia and think tanks on the nexus of digitalization and sustainability and discuss potential cooperation;
  • With a view to representatives from civil society organizations, the Symposium would like to provide a forum to discuss how collaborative action between green and digital advocacy groups as experienced within the German “Bits & Bäume” movement can be internationalized in order to join forces for shaping the ongoing policy processes at the EU level.

The Closing Panel consists of a concluding discussion, with a focus on required initiatives, collaborations and key levers on the way to implement elements of a sustainable digitalization within current political frameworks at the EU-Level.

The main topic of the International Symposium is also discussed in a Special Issue of the journal OekologischesWirtschaften (Ecological Economy). Several articles of the open access issue explore the nexus of digitalization and sustainability.

More information about the event can be found here.

>>Register now for the International Symposium<<

Information for visually or hearing impaired people

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May 6th, 2021, 15.00-18.00 CEST, online via Zoom

Opening Panel
A European Way for a Sustainable Digitalization – introduction to the topic and the scope of the Symposium


  • Tilman Santarius, TU Berlin
  • Daniel Lang, Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • Friederike Rohde, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

Parallel Workshops
The European approach for a sustainable digitalization from three perspectives

Workshop I: A three-level approach for a sustainable digital transformation

For this workshop we invite political actors to discuss with us necessary political and administrative framework conditions at different levels. What enablers do we need at a social, organizational, and individual level? What consequences derive from our findings? What is needed to promote individuals, organizations and society for design of appropriate framework conditions for the 21st century?


  • Narmine Abou Bakari, Greens / EFA Group
  • Ilias Iakovidis, Adviser on Societal challenges at the European Commission, DG CONNECT
  • Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament (tbc)
  • Marc Schattenmann, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Germany

Workshop II: Forging a European interdisciplinary science network on digitalization and sustainability

This track will introduce the thematic approach of the European dialogue project “Digitalization for Sustainability - Science in Dialogue”, and offer discussions with participants on mutual findings and blind spots on the road towards a deep sustainability transition. Moreover, we want to reflect on the ongoing policy processes at EU and global level.


  • Angelika Hilbeck, ETH Zurich
  • Mattias Höjer, KTH Stockholm
  • Éliane Ubalijoro, Sustainability in the Digital Age initiative
  • Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D

Workshop III: The ‚Bits & Bäume Movement’ goes Europe

The third session aims at discussing ideas and prospects for collaborative action of civil society and science to call for a European policy for sustainable digitalization. What can we learn from the German ‘Bits & Bäume Movement’? How can a comprehensive agenda for sustainable digitalization encouraged by European civil society organizations look like? What could be joint activities?


  • Vivian Frick, Bits & Bäume and IÖW
  • Stephanie Hankey, Tactical Tech
  • Gauthier Roussilhe, Designer and researcher, Design Research Center, ENS Saclay
  • N.N.

Closing Panel
From concept to action: How can elements of a sustainable digitalization be implemented?

In the closing panel discussion, next concrete initiatives, collaborations and key levers on the way to implementation will be discussed. Furthermore, it is discussed to what extent the Digital Services Act/EU Council Decision in their current forms are suitable for pushing forward a sustainable digitalization across Europe.


  • Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament (tbc)
  • Michelle Thorne, Mozilla Foundation
  • David Jensen, UNEP Digital Transformation Task Force

More information about the event can be found here.

>>Register now for the International Symposi