A ‘sustainable’ contract for the web – introducing the 10th principle.

How to encourage interdisciplinary engagement about sustainable business models?

Last month the founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, introduced his new initiative A contract for the Web. This initiative aims to “turn around the Internet” into a safe place and supports those who develop or want to make use of Internet services and technology in a responsible way. To achieve this, nine principles have been developed that lay out ‘a global plan of action’ for organisations, governments and citizens.

In recent years, similar initiatives have been developed, for example the UK based responsible media forum “…a partnership between 25 leading media companies to identify and take action on the social and environmental challenges facing the sector” (Responsible Media Forum, n.d.).

As an Internet researcher I really welcome these initiatives, however I wonder why most of the sustainable business models that have been discussed in recent years within the NBM community can mostly be found in the energy, food, building or garment industry?
Many lessons learned from those initiatives may support the development of a ‘sustainable Internet’. This provides opportunity for media companies to learn from best practices in other areas.

Which brings me to an advice that my colleague Niels Faber brought up when we discussed the nine principles of the contract for the web. Niels commented: “This is important, but I would add a 10th principle: Build a sustainable Web”. I fully agree with this idea. Tech- and Media organisations need to become more sustainable and they are in a very comfy position that they can learn from or build on a lot of new business models that have already been developed. So, I would like to invite media and tech corporations to further discuss “the 10th principle” in Nijmegen in 2020. Please join this discussion!

Related links: https://contractfortheweb.org/ and https://responsiblemediaforum.org

Deike Schulz