Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


Open Source in Environmental Sustainability

Preserving climate and natural resources with openness

The transition to a more sustainable future requires not only technological innovation, but also new opportunities for society to participate in the development and adoption of technologies. Open source culture has demonstrated how transparent and collaborative innovation can support modern digital services, data and infrastructure. Open Source Software (OSS) accelerates the transition to a sustainable economy by supporting traceable decision-making, building capacity for localisation and customisation of climate technologies, and most importantly, helping to prevent greenwashing. Despite the transformative impact of open source culture, its potential for developing environmentally sustainable technologies is not well understood.

This study provides the first analysis of the open source software ecosystem in the field of sustainability and climate technology. Thousands of actively developed open source projects and organizations were collected and systematically analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods as part of the Open Sustainable Technology project. The analysis covers multiple dimensions – including the technical, the social, and the organisational. It highlights key risks and challenges for users, developers, and decision-makers as well as opportunities for more systemic collaboration. Based on these unique insights, we were also able to define the Open Sustainability Principles that embody open source in sustainability.


Photo of Tobias Augspurger Tobias Augspurger