1st Edition

Digital Technologies for Sustainable Futures Promises and Pitfalls

    216 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book critically examines the interplay between digitalization and sustainability. Amid escalating environmental crises, some of which are now irreversible, there is a noticeable commitment within both international and domestic policy agendas to employ digital technologies in pursuit of sustainability goals.

    This collection gathers a multitude of voices interrogating the premise that increased digitalization automatically contributes to greater sustainability. By exploring the planetary links underpinning the global digital economy, the book exposes the extractive logics ingrained within digital capitalism and introduces alternatives like digital degrowth and the circular economy as viable, sustainable paths for the digital era. Through a combination of theoretical reflections and detailed contextual analyses from Italy, New Zealand, and the UK—including initiatives in participatory planning and technology co-design—it articulates the dual role of digital technology: its potential to support socio-economic and environmental sustainability, while also generating conflicts and impasses that undermine these very objectives. Offering fresh insights into power disparities, exclusionary tactics, and systemic injustices that digital solutionism fails to address, this volume also serves as a reminder that sustainability extends beyond climate-related issues, underscoring the inseparability of environmental discourse from wider social justice considerations.

    Aimed at a diverse readership, this volume will prove valuable for students, researchers, and practitioners across various fields, including Geography, Urban Studies, Sustainability Studies, Environmental Media Studies, Critical AI Studies, Innovation Studies, and the Digital Humanities.

    1. Digital (Un)sustainabilities: An Introduction

    Fabio Iapaolo, Chiara Certomà, and Federico Martellozzo

    Part 1: The Uneven Consequences of Digital Capitalism in Global Society

    2. Fantasies of Dematerialization: (Un)sustainable Growth and Digital Capitalism

    Sy Taffel

    3. Big Cloud Solastalgia

    Mél Hogan and Gwendolyn Blue

    4. Operative Landscapes of Digitisation, Collateral Landscapes of Circularity

    Stephen Cornford

    5. Framing the (Un)sustainability of AI: Environmental, Social, and Democratic Aspects

    Irene Niet, Mignon Hagemeijer, Anne Marte Gardenier, and Rinie van Est

    6. Problematising Digital Democracy: The Role of Context in Shaping Digital Participation

    Caitlin Hafferty, Jiří Pánek, and Ian Babelon

    7. Digital Fractures: Sustainability and the Partiality of Climate Policy Simulation Models

    Ruth Machen

    Part 2: Twin Transition on the Ground: Local Experimentations with Digital Sustainability

    8. Share an Idea: AI-Augmented Urban Narrative

    Mark Dyer, Shaoqun Wu, and Min-Hsien Weng

    9. Data (Un)Sustainability: Navigating Utopian Resistance While Tracing Emancipatory Datafication Strategies

    Igor Calzada

    10. Embedding Sustainability in Software Design and Development: Accessible Digital Tools for Local Communities

    Cristina Viano, Guido Boella, and Claudio Schifanella

    11. European Strategic Autonomy for the Twin Transition: Ambiguities and Contradictions from a Spatial Perspective

    Luis Martin Sanchez and Margherita Gori Nocentini

    12. Excavating Digital (Un)sustainabilities 

    Jessica Mclean



    Chiara Certomà is an assistant professor of Political-Economic Geography at the University of Turin, Italy. She also serves as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology, and Society (STS) in Graz, at Ghent University, and at the Earth System Governance Research Network at Utrecht University. Her interests include innovative modes of urban governance and planning in response to environmental challenges and the digital turn.

    Fabio Iapaolo is a research fellow at Oxford Brookes University's Centre for AI, Culture, and Society, UK. He holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Development from the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, and spent a year with the Critical AI Studies (KIM) group at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. His work bridges spatial, political, and computer science perspectives to address topics such as algorithmic inequalities, the materiality of computation, and the politics of automation.

    Federico Martellozzo is an associate professor of Economic Geography and GIS at the University of Florence, Italy. After earning his PhD in Political and Economic Geography from the University of Trieste in 2010, he served as a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University's Land Use and Global Environment (LUGE) lab in Canada. His research examines the adverse effects of land development and resource consumption patterns amid global environmental changes.