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The CSCP and the BMWi Show How Mittelstand Digital Competence Centres Can Be Pivotal in Mainstreaming Sustainability

Mittelstand-Digital, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, heads 25 different Competence Centres on different digitalisation topics throughout Germany. When they all came together in November, Thomas Wagner of the CSCP and Stefan Liebenberg from BMWi presented the potentials of digitalisation for sustainable business practices and urged Competence Centres to think sustainability and digitalisation together in their projects.

The CSCP is part of the Competence Centre eStandards, where we conduct digitalisation projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a strong focus on enabling sustainable business practices, such as circular economy approaches or digital sustainable supply chains. This adds another area of expertise to the Competence Centre eStandards, an area from which not only those practice projects with a strong focus on sustainability profit. The presentation at the semi-annual meeting of the Competence Centres served to enhance the impact of sustainable practices, and ensure that sustainability and digitalisation are thought together in the work of all Competence Centres.

Digitalisation strategies are often complex and it is difficult to say what their effects in terms of sustainability, especially on an environmental and social level are. However, as Thomas Wagner detailed in the presentation: “Digitalisation means that we can create much more transparency. At any point of production, along the entire value chain, but also when it comes to consumption or consumer behaviour, digitalisation gives us much more transparency, information and data. This is very important, because one of the major challenges to sustainable development is that we have a lack of data which hinders us to set the right framework conditions and policies in many areas.” With transparency as a starting point, thinking digitalisation and sustainability together can enable resource efficiency, safer work places or closely monitored working conditions along the supply chain. In his presentation, Thomas Wagner also addressed the sustainability challenges related to digitalisation and highlighted possible solutions to handle them.

These are important steps towards adjusting business models to the expectations of consumers, peers and politicians alike. The Sustainable Development Goals have set the stage for sustainability worldwide. On a national level, the German Sustainability Strategy in its 2018 version details that “The overarching goal and yardstick of all action is to secure the earth’s natural basis for life in the long term and to enable all people to live in dignity now and in the future”. For businesses, this means that there will be an increased pressure from consumers, customers, the public and the government to make their business models sustainable. Digitalisation and ICT solutions can be the tool to achieve that, if digitalisation and sustainability are thought together.

Combined, the Competence Centres reach a significant number of SMEs to implement this thinking and use digitalisation to achieve more sustainable business practices.

For further information, please contact Thomas Wagner.