Main research question
Digitization in European rural areas and in agriculture and forestry remains a challenge. The now-completed EU project DESIRA aimed to build knowledge and develop methods to better and more easily assess the impact of digitization. To this end, DESIRA aimed for a strong network of scientists, practitioners and policy makers committed to the principles of sustainable digitization and who could frame technology development in a fair social context.
Through DESIRA, that community of scientists, practitioners and policy makers has been built. The Living Lab concept was worked intensively. The partners experienced that it was an appropriate approach to support the necessary transformation. Conclusions were drawn about the desirability and benefits of principled sustainable digitization. Technology development best goes hand in hand with the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation.
This research has shown that environmental and digital transitions cannot be pursued in isolation, but are linked to a social transition. Through our policy roadmap, we have identified several objectives that EU policy at all levels should pursue, including support for and increased resources for local, bottom-up initiatives and attention to sufficient reality checks to avoid disruptive impacts. Through our code of ethics, we have identified values and principles that should guide innovation policy, technology development and assessment, and policy evaluation. Finally, our findings provide an agenda for further research on the socioeconomic impacts of digitalization, for example, on appropriate technologies for new agricultural paradigms and on the governance of digitalization.