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Sustainable development and ICT interpreted in a natural science context

TitleSustainable development and ICT interpreted in a natural science context
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHilty LM, Ruddy TF
Journal TitleInformation, Communication & Society
Pages7 — 22
KeywordsDematerialization, information society, material flow, societal metabolism, sustainability
AbstractSustainable development (SD) is a political concept with a strong normative component. In this article, we show which implications follow from this normative component if it is interpreted in a natural science context. We conclude that from a natural science point of view, a far-reaching dematerialization of consumption is a necessary condition for SD. We further conclude that information and communication technologies can only support SD if they are applied as enablers of dematerialized (less material-intensive) types of consumption. Macro-level data on consumption shows, however, that average material flows per capita are still increasing. In this problematical situation, we see a need for framework conditions that provide incentives for dematerialization and specialized research on the psychosocial conditions on the basis of which consumption patterns could evolve towards a more dematerialized economy.
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