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GeSI in a operational partnership with APDC

Digital with Purpose Global Summit

The inaugural Digital with Purpose Global Summit took place on 27th September 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal, attracting over 1400 participants in person and online. Upwards of 140 expert speakers from global business, government, civil society and NGO organisations shared their insights and experiences in an agenda encompassing over 30 diverse, topic-specific sessions.

The digital innovation thematic areas of the summit included: health; education; social and economic inequality; cities; online trust and responsibility; the natural environment; climate change; ocean management; and biodiversity loss.

Central to the agenda, format and design of individual interactions was the ambition to drive new digital solutions and new collaborations, as well as harness existing innovations in a race to directly address the world´s most pressing sustainability challenges.

The conference concluded with the commencement of a countdown to the 2023 Digital with Purpose Global Summit which will take place in exactly twelve months time once again in Lisbon. The goal will be to bring to the stage a plethora of new digital solutions and collaborations with demonstrable, quantifiable positive impacts.  

Here are just a few of the key takeaways from the main stage of the 2022 Digital with Purpose Global Summit, arranged by their place on the agenda:  

Introduction: Luis Neves, CEO, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
Teresa Ribera - Vice President, Government of Spain; Spanish Minister of the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge
Mário Campolargo, Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Administrative Modernisation, Government of Portugal
A Digital Agenda for a Flourishing Portugal - Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal

The opening session of the Digital with Purpose Global Summit began with a keynote speech from Luis Neves, CEO of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and head of the Digital with Purpose Movement.

‘Action needs to be taken against the existential planetary threats we are facing of climate change, the collapse of biodiversity, and growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. We have the power to change course, but we need to act quickly.'

‘Over the past few decades, we have made much progress in advancing human society through digital innovations. Now is the time to apply innovation to these sustainability issues. This is the aim of the Digital with Purpose Movement: to unleash the full potential of digitalization by looking beyond improvements in the current system and put human needs and global sustainability at the core of what we do.'

‘This summit aims to be a collaborative forum repeated on a regular annual basis to keep up momentum and hold us all to account for our progress, tracking and accelerating measurable actions. It brings together a fantastic diversity of industries and organisations from businesses, governments, NGOs and civil society, with leaders focused not just on profits but also on improving the world through their organisation's work and mission.'

‘As part of the Digital with Purpose Movement, we have also developed a progressive and non-traditional n programme of certification based on a comprehensive new framework and metrics for all digital providers to align with. We call on the most committed, future-aligned organisations to join our mission in improving their organisation's sustainability impact and performance. I encourage you to get involved and join this "race to the top".

The opening ceremony then continued with a call to action from Teresa Ribera, Vice President, Government of Spain, who appealed for more effective sustainability measures, and that to make real progress will require everyone's collaboration. "We have to be prepared and prepare the right responses", she emphasised.

Mário Campolargo, Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Administrative Modernisation, Government of Portugal, highlighted the importance of "continuously questioning and rethinking digital, because we have to address the most varied issues of society and economy, in an open reflection of our society". Portugal, as a country has a goal to transform "into a true digital nation, leaving no one behind". This requires effort from everyone, giving priority to "partnerships for good".

In closing, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, proclaimed that "the digital transformation of societies is only of interest if it improves our lives. We have to put it at the service of the challenges of our time. How to do it in a sustainable and economically viable way is only possible on a global and multilateral scale, accepting that everyone's collaboration is essential for what we want to acheive".

Moderator: Erika Staël von Holstein, CEO, Re-Imagine Europe
Corne Kempenaar, Senior Scientist at Wageningen Plant Research Institute
Natasha Santos, Crop Science Division Vice President, Head of Global Stakeholder Affairs & Strategic Partnerships, Bayer
Daniel Azevedo, Director Commodities, Trade and Technology, Copa Cogeca
Julien Willeme, Global Chief Counsel for Data & AI Strategy, Medtronic

The digitalisation of food and healthcare systems is already underway, but much remains to be done both in terms of how data is used and how business opportunities can be seized. Speakers discussed the need for an urgent change of narrative, one that reimagines food and health systems and creates models that work at a country, regional and global level. Diversity and collaborative ecosystems are also important along with the right regulatory environments. Technology is essential, but strategic choices determine the future of these markets.

Keynote: Dirk Messner, President, German Environmental Agency
Moderator: Ingemar Jansson, Board Chairman, Swedish Industry Association for Digitalisation Consultants
Erik Swan, Director of Digital Business Exploration, Husqvarna Group
Aimée Aguilar, Climate Change Mitigation in the Environment, Transitions and Resilience Division Lead, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Maryke van Staden, Director, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)'s carbonn Climate Center (Bonn Center for Local Climate Action and Reporting)
Miguel Eiras Antunes, Public Sector & Infrastructure Portugal & Continental Europe Leader, Smart Cities & Urban Transformation Global Leader, Deloitte
Bastien Hillen, Global Lead for Sustainability Strategic Engagements, Dassault Systèmes

Cities are currently the biggest sources of emissions and at the same time the biggest hubs of innovation. With the rapid growth of urban centres, technological solutions and digitalisation are central to securing the future. But it is no longer enough to simply change the systems that are in place. It is necessary to go further by defining new systems and new models. There is a need for a new mindset in cities. The issues go beyond scale, speed of solutions, but instead of being reactionary in terms of innovation, cities must be anticipatory in defining and prioritising new strategies. National and local governance must facilitate close collaboration between other public actors as well as the private sector to co-design and redefine the vision for cities.
Moderator: Patrícia Matos, Director of Innovation - Global Media Group
Maria João Carioca, Executive Board Member, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer, Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Jose Miguel Pessanha, Executive Board Member and Chief Risk Officer, Millennium
Tom Slocock, Head of International Product Development and Origination, iCapital
Margarida Couto, CEO, Fundação Vasco Vieira de Almeida
João Dias, Chief Digital Officer, Novo Banco

Banks are already betting on sustainable financing because regulation increasingly demands it. Unfortunately, making banking more sustainable is still a very complex process because standards differ between financial organisations and regulatory regimes. Institutions also have to parse through a huge amount of data which differs among various players both internally and externally across the market. There are many complex challenges to overcome. The sector is under great pressure in terms of supervision, and there is a need to be transparent and connect with customers who seek more sustainable financial portfolios. Banking institutions should look to collaborate more amongst themselves as well as with regulators and supervisors to create consistent standards and data. Close collaboration with customers, many of whom have yet to achieve sufficiently high levels of financial literacy to define more sustainable projects, is also critical. 

Moderator: Veerle Vandeweerd, Co-convener, COVID Education Alliance (COVIDEA); Global Entrepreneurship Centre (GEC)
Georgios Kostakos, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability
Jose Crespo Carvalho, CEO, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE) Executive Education
Stephen Downes, Internet and New Media Researcher
Rogério Carapuça, President, Portuguese Association for the Development of Communications (APDC)
Maria Lopes Saraiva, Senior Strategy Manager, Google

Education needs a fundamental change to respond to a world undergoing accelerated transformation on all fronts. Education today faces the challenge of needing to create citizens of the world who are prepared for everything. Digital tools are becoming ever more essential for ensuring that people have access to lifelong education and shifting opportunities in the job market. Technological solutions that are reshaping education are multiplying, especially for public education. Partnerships between public and private entities already exist, with successful examples that prove that accelerating the use of digital technologies in this space is indeed possible, especially for jobs in the ICT sector. But much more needs to be done especially at the university level where mindsets need t  change to keep up with the times. Disruptive events will continue to force us to do things differently and move towards an increasingly digital world.

Keynote: Jeffrey Sachs, Economist, Author, Professor
"We are at a very difficult juncture. We need to cooperate, because we are in a set of serious global crises: pandemic, war, heightened tensions between US/China and climate change, among others. We need to refocus on a common agenda. But first, we need to end this war. (...) Digital is key in what is to be done. The power of digital services to positively connect society, to fight poverty, to access information and knowledge... all of this is revolutionary. And it's happening with business leadership. But we are only reaching half the world and the gap is increasing dramatically. We have to reach the whole world. (...) We need partnerships to achieve this and the sense of urgency is very high. Defining a roadmap is essential at this moment", said Jeffrey Sachs, well-known economist, author and professor, in the session "CEOs in the Hot Seat".

Moderator: Luis Neves, CEO of GeSI
Andrés Ortola, General Manager, Microsoft Portugal
Paula Gomes Freire, Managing Partner, Vieira de Almeida
Fernando Reino da Costa, CEO, Unipartner
Ana Paula Marques, Executive Board Member, EDP
Tony Jin Yong, Vice President, Huawei West European Region

Increasing demand from clients and consumers has moved large companies to take on ambitious sustainability strategies. Digital technologies, which have aided companies in becoming faster and more efficient, can also be used to make companies more sustainable and purpose-driven. Companies should look to define a roadmap and have a strategic plan to improve their sustainability goals while putting purpose at the core of their work. This along with working together, creating value, and sharing knowledge will, over time, help to influence an entire business ecosystem. 

Moderator: Jorge Moreira da Silva, Chairman, Platform for Sustainable Growth
Pedro Tavares, Portuguese Secretary of State for Justice
Bernd Halling, Bayer Liaison to International Organizations
Luisa Ribeiro Lopes, Chair of the Board of Directors, .PT
David Jensen, Coordinator for Digital Transformation, UN Environment Programme
Andre Aragão de Azevedo, Digital Development Partnerships Director, Microsoft International
Joao Ricardo Moreira, Board Member, NOS Communications
Timmy Dooley, Irish Senator, Fianna Fáil; ALDE Party Co-President

The purpose of all organisations should always be centered on people and meeting their needs, and that extends to include their planetary context, so their environment, biodiversity and the climate. In this process of transformation to digital, it is crucial that all players come together to accelerate the potential of digital and maximise its impact on sustainability and the fight against climate change in particular. During times of major global disruption such as we currently find ourselves, new uses of technology deployed in a coordinated and collaborative way working with public and private sectors can drive innovation. The future depends on engagement between all stakeholders to create a true coalition for a sustainable digital environment. This is a historic opportunity we have on our hands. Speed is essential to ensure success. We are on the right track and must stay the course.

Amandeep Singh Gill, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Envoy on Technology
Luis Neves, CEO, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)

Amandeep Singh Gill began the closing ceremony with a video speech, reiterating the dire global issues affecting millions across the world such as climate change, debt and difficulties accessing finance, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which will not be solvable just through the efforts of just a few. Action needs to be taken across the board. With regard to digital transformations and the potential to solve these difficult problems, governments should look to come up with agile ways to govern these new innovations, in order to establish trust among populations. Governments can also serve as an investor in digital transformations. On the private sector side, there is a need for businesses to move from a focus on CSR efforts to research and development for sustainability. In September 2024, the United Nations is convening a Summit of the Future which will ask ‘what exactly is the digital future that we want?'

"Humanity is facing unprecedented opportunities, but also unprecedented challenges," Luis Neves, GeSI CEO stated in the closing ceremony, which was coupled with a "Lisbon Digital Action Challenge Pledge." He committed that the Digital with Purpose movement would:

1. Support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to establish practical steps to enable organisations to become purpose-led by delivering sustainable digital solutions

2. Report concrete action on climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement with focus on transformative low-carbon solutions based on digital solutions

3. Support transparency and report on the development and adoption of an agreed methodology for calculation and reporting of the positive impact of digital solution

4. Develop and deploy digital technology with positive societal impact with a 2030 collaborative action agenda and roadmap for exponential uptake of sustainable solutions



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Realiza-se a 19 de junho, no Porto