Most people who completed our survey said yes

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But in reality…“I've never seen sustainability discussed”

Just over half of digital professionals we spoke to in the interviews did not have direct experience with considering environmental impacts in their work.

For some they hadn’t really recognised it was something that they should be thinking about -“I don't think there's much consideration given to carbon emissions” (Digital practitioner in a Local Authority).

For others, they recognised it was something they should be doing but hadn’t been able to progress on that yet -“For us in the digital world, I think we are yet to really start to put the decarbonisation piece at the heart of our service design” (Digital and technology lead in a Local Authority).

“It’s not something we have in our objectives”

Some participants mentioned they don’t see sustainability featuring as a priority in their organisations digital strategy - “I sat in on a presentation on the new digital strategy and net zero doesn't feature at all.” (Service Manager).

Where participants had seen sustainability featured in digital strategies, it was criticised as being “name checked” and not “put front and centre”. “It wasn't ‘sustainability…’, it was ‘…sustainability’” (Service Manager in Central Administration).

Digital practitioners that we spoke to didn’t have examples of being asked to consider carbon emission reduction in their work - “Our team haven't got specific KPI for getting to net zero” (Digital and technology practitioner at a University).”

Where it does consciously happen, it’s focussed on reducing the footprint of digital technology

Where examples were given where action had been taken to use digital in a way that aligns with net zero, largely this was to do with reducing the footprint of the technology. When this did occur, some of the reasons identified for instigating it were:

Organisational priority

In a few areas sustainability is a driving principle for the work they do due to it being baked into their values - “We did it to meet our brand values. If we're not doing it ourselves, then how can we expect others to do that?” (Service manager in Central Administration).

Some digital leaders were aware of their organisations net zero commitment and were building this into their projects - “For the new data centre, we're looking at how can we be more sustainable, what how can we reduce our carbon emissions and all of that stuff” (Digital leader in a Local Authority).

Impact assessments