Ten things to know about the relationship between Italians, the environment and digital

In the era of digital transformation, the one between environmental sustainability and technological innovation represents a fundamentally important combination. Climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss are in fact just some of the great challenges we face today, and among the most promising tools capable of helping us solve them, new technologies certainly play a key role.
However, everything depends on people’s awareness and ability to recognize the potential of others. digital tools, and to adopt them to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable future. It is precisely for this reason that the Foundation for Digital Sustainability made the report “Sustainable Environment 2024”: the study that analyses the relationship of Italian citizens, residing in the Large and Small Centres of our Country, with digital, energy and the environment, which will be presented tomorrow afternoon during a dedicated Webinar.
In this in-depth analysis, we look at the ten key points that emerged from the research, which outline the main challenges and opportunities on the path towards a digital and sustainable future.

1) Adherence to digital services for the reduction of energy consumption in Italy

Despite the importance of digitalization for achieving European energy goals, the adoption of digital services for reducing energy consumption in Italy is still insufficient. Only a small portion of the population uses advanced technologies to monitor and manage energy consumption: for example, only 6% of citizens living in large cities and 1% of those living in small cities use Smart Meter systems. These data highlight the need to work on awareness, to significantly promote the use of these tools.

2) A misperception of sustainable behaviors

The research shows that only one in three Italians is able to truly understand the practical consequences of their beliefs. In other words, a third of Italians believe they adopt sustainable behaviors, but in reality they are not. This highlights the importance of developing a widespread awareness in the population, functional to identifying and implementing, in everyday life, those practices that are truly sustainable and therefore in line with their beliefs.
3) Procrastination of environmental issues
As many as one in four Italians believes that environmental problems, such as those related to pollution and climate change, can be addressed by future generations. This attitude risks delaying the necessary action to mitigate climate change, underlining the urgency of raising awareness among the population on the importance of addressing these problems now.

4) Digital awareness between large and small centers

The research highlights that 81% of the interviewees believe that digital services have a positive impact on energy consumption, with a relative uniformity between large and small centers. More specifically, a greater awareness is found especially among the very young (16-24 years) living in large urban contexts: data that give hope, especially with respect to the potential role of technology for environmental challenges in the perception of the members of the new generations.

5) Impact of digital services on privacy

The use of technologies for domestic energy control raises concerns about privacy, especially in large cities. On the other hand, 69% of citizens living in small towns, compared to 61% in large towns, while considering it an important concept, see privacy as less important than the convenience of these systems. These data therefore open up a significant food for thought: for Italians, privacy is a priority concept but, especially in small towns, if compared to the usefulness of services, it often loses importance.

6) Use of remotely programmable heating and air conditioning systems

 

Only 12% of people living in large cities use remotely programmable heating and air conditioning systems, while in small towns this percentage drops to 4%. Knowledge and adoption of these technologies is therefore higher in large cities, but remains low in small towns, highlighting the need for information campaigns to promote these useful tools in the direction of energy efficiency.

 

7) Adoption of smart appliances

The use of smart appliances is still limited, with only 16% of residents of large cities and 4% of those in small towns using them rarely or regularly. This figure is decreasing compared to the 2023 surveys, where the average number of Italians who used them was one in four. The lack of knowledge and adoption of these technologies represents a missed opportunity to reduce domestic energy consumption: improving information and access to these devices could, instead, have a significant impact.

8) Waste Management App

 

Apps for waste sorting – which provide, for example, instructions on how to separate waste – and waste management are more used in large cities, with 11% of residents using them regularly. In small towns, only 2% of citizens use these apps, demonstrating less familiarity with these technologies. The differences, in this case, may be due to various factors, including access to technology and local policies.

 

9) App for booking bulky waste collection

The use of bulky waste collection apps is 10% in large cities and only 4% in small cities. This difference could be due to a greater availability of digital services and technological infrastructure in larger urban areas. However, digital skills are essential for the adoption of these tools, more than the orientation towards sustainability itself.

10) App for access to the ecological island

Apps for booking access to the ecological island are used by 9% of citizens in large cities and only 2% in small towns. Despite a good awareness of the existence of these apps, regular use remains low: this suggests that there may be barriers to the effective adoption of these technologies, such as a lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the service or a preference for more traditional methods.
The research data clearly shows the importance of bridging the digital divide between the larger and smaller areas of our territory, with the aim of promoting effective and inclusive sustainability throughout the country. In this direction, institutions must commit themselves both to improving digital training and to providing the necessary tools to help citizens take full advantage of sustainable technologies. Only in this way will it be possible to address environmental challenges and build a more sustainable future.

By Editor

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