Will the new industrial revolution bring sustainability?

The new industrial revolution, along with the ‘circular’ and ‘sharing’ economy, are reconfiguring economic activities across the world. How can these activities be aligned with the idea of a sustainable resource economy which includes  deep decarbonization?

With the new industrial revolution underway - from big data and artificial intelligence to additive manufacturing - there are opportunities to transform all global production and consumption and place it onto more sustainable pathways through a confluence of new digital technologies and tools, along with new sharing and circular business models. Some of these innovations are already disrupting key economic sectors from energy to agriculture, to mobility and infrastructure.

While these technological and business model revolutions should help unlock more radical visions for low carbon production processes, their uptake in traditional industries such as cement, metals and chemicals have remained slow compared to other economic sectors. This necessitates looking beyond tried and tested but incremental approaches, to build radical new solutions, partnerships and tools from the ground up. New strategies are also needed to help align future societal preferences with sustainability, which in turn will stimulate the much-needed demand and markets that value future low carbon innovations.

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