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Setting a Research Agenda: DPI for Positive Climate Action


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The world is at the crossroads of an unprecedented, deepening climate crisis and accelerating digital proliferation. As a result, there is an urgent need to navigate the intersection of digital public infrastructure (DPI) and climate action, and what it means for the challenges and opportunities it presents, its implications for people, and the necessary actions and tools required to drive positive change. 

Digital can be an accelerator for progress. But there is still much to learn about how to harness its power to pave the way for a sustainable future. 

Why Climate? Why Now?

The stakeholders that we work with recognize that digital technologies can extend the reach of public services to people. The same stakeholders are also raising the alarm on the urgency to address growing climate emergencies and the negative impacts that face them. At the same time, public entities are navigating the difficult balance of directing funding to progress on development goals or to mitigating climate disasters and dealing with the aftermath of climate emergencies.   

We ask, can investments in digital public infrastructure be a pathway to address both climate impacts and long-term development goals? If so, what are the opportunities that we can collectively leverage, and what are the challenges we need to study further?  

To understand the intersectionality better, the Digital Impact Alliance is introducing a body of research that blends our expertise in inclusive and trusted digital transformation with the global priority of climate action. We aim to bring together technology providers, climate experts, policymakers, and local stakeholders to encourage dialog and drive collective action on this important subject.

What Do We Seek To Do?

Our objective with the climate and digital public infrastructure research agenda is to test assumptions, uncover ideas, capture, and share best practices from countries, bring opportunities to life, and ultimately, drive positive impact for people.

To begin with, we acknowledge our assumptions. The first assumption is that investments in DPI (such as IDs, data exchange, and payments) can be a force for greater inclusion in climate preparedness and response. Secondly, we assume that digital technologies can enhance the accuracy and efficiency of climate data collection, analysis, and modelling, leading to better decision-making for climate action. Our final assumption is that by considering climate use cases when designing digital public services, countries will experience gains across their development goals.

A lot of great work is already underway, but there is still a lot left to learn. To that end, we are beginning this work by looking at three key issues:

  1. Understanding the digital building blocks for climate resilient societies: What are the critical digital tech deployments all countries should have in place to fortify their climate change preparedness? How are emerging technologies changing the answers to these questions? And, of particular importance, what is needed to maximize the value of climate data?
  2. Safeguarding against risks: Recognizing the tech deployments alone are insufficient, what are the key aspects of the enabling environment to support these technologies and what are the institutional mechanisms needed to provide oversight? What is missing in the current discourse and how can we ensure that we are safeguarding against the potential risks?
  3. Documenting use cases and technical specifications: How can our insights into the DPI and climate interplay translate into specific resources for our GovStack network thereby supporting a ready-to-deploy, customizable toolkit for government actors.

As part of our approach, two of our senior fellows from the inaugural DIAL fellowship cohort will dedicate their time to uncovering insights on this topic. Climate action and DPI are multidisciplinary in nature, encompassing aspects of technology, policy, environmental science, and social dynamics. Our decision to bring on fellows with knowledge and experience in these areas is driven by the recognition that this complex and evolving field requires domain expertise.  

For More On This Work

We plan on sharing valuable knowledge, actionable insights, and research findings throughout the year and to pave the way for information exchange and thought leadership in this emerging field. While this is the start of a larger body of research, there are different pieces we have planned for the year including expert comments, case studies, and use cases. As we progress, we envision expanding our scope and depth of research to more in-depth papers, thought pieces, and actionable recommendations.

We understand the importance of incorporating external views and diverse perspectives to enrich our understanding and drive innovation. As such, we invite you to connect and partner with us, and we welcome your perspectives and expertise on this topic. For more information, please email

For more, read this expert comment on the twin transition and this paper on the considerations for digital and climate.

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