Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Green Knowledge Society (Digital Agenda)

After the EU Digital Agenda public consultation 2009 we turn to some of the preparatory work done by the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second semester of 2009.

The Visby Information Society Conference 9 to 10 November 2009 left us the Visby Declaration about the policy issues for a new ICT agenda for the EU.

After some introductory remarks, the Visby Declaration attempted to outline consensus views towards a European knowledge society, in 17 distinct paragraphs.

Some of the issues are discussed in the Grahnlaw blog post: Swedish presidency and EU Commission: preparing Digital Agenda (24 December 2009), although many of the links are now broken.

Green Knowledge Society

For the Visby Conference, the Swedish government had prepared an interesting policy report, luckily still accessible:

Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union: A Green Knowledge Society – An ICT policy agenda to 2015 for Europe's future knowledge society (September 2009; 63 pages)

The report is in English, but the Executive Summary is available in French and Swedish as well.

In the foreword, the Swedish minister for communications ├ůsa Torstensson upped the ante:

Can we expect structural change and radical transformation to be smooth and painless? I think not. History abounds with examples of dramatic change that brought costs for a few but great gains for many more.
The report defined ten policy areas for an overall policy framework for information and communication technologies (ICTs), each area discussed in detail together with policy goals and policy actions up to 2015. See Executive Summary (EN FR SW):

1. The knowledge economy: driver of future wealth
2. The knowledge society: participation for all
3. Green ICT: support for an eco-efficient economy
4. Next generation infrastructure: balancing investment with competition
5. Soft infrastructure: investing in social capital
6. SMEs and ICT: supporting Europe’s small enterprises
7. A single information market: enabling cohesion and growth
8. Revolutionising eGovernment: rethinking delivery of public services
9. Online trust: a safe and secure digital world
10. Clear leadership: rethinking the EU’s policy making process

Key aspects

The report summed up three key aspects to the Green Knowledge Society:

 Economic – a knowledge economy is the way forward for a competitive European economy to generate sustainable growth and employment through innovation and to enable social and environmental goals to be pursued. Investment in ICT in support of Green Knowledge Society goals would additionally provide a much-needed short-term economic boost.

 Societal – a knowledge society is an inclusive society in which everyone should be able to participate, including those less able, so that this entry becomes part of basic human rights. It is the power of individuals acting in concert that drives innovation.

 Environmental – the Green Knowledge Society is a sustainable society so that growing use of ICT must support an eco-efficient economy. It has overtones in the economy, specifically with use of sustainability to drive new products, processes and industry sectors, highlighted by several interviewees as a ‘Green New Deal’ for Europe.
Hopefully, you find the issues covered enticing enough to study the Green Knowledge Society report on your own and to discuss the issues with other interested Europeans.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Visit the museum and art treasures of Europe at the multilingual Europeana web portal, which enables us to explore the digital resources of Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections – more than 15 million items from 1500 institutions.