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Government Digital Sustainability Alliance (GDSA)

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GDSA - purpose and focus

Digital transformation can assist sustainability, but it can also be an inhibitor. To ensure that digital technologies are a force to achieve our Greening Government Commitments, Net Zero Strategy, and support the fruition of the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, businesses and governments need to work together to ensure that digital technology puts less pressure on the environment. The achievement of digital sustainability highly depends on stakeholders’ engagement and the co-creation of shared value.

That's where the GDSA comes in. Formed in 2022 after an announcement by Chris Howes, Defra’s Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO) and the UK Government’s Senior Responsible Owner for Sustainable ICT, at COP 27, GDSA members collaborate to develop ideas and solutions to digital sustainability challenges.

For us at Defra, we recognise that ICT sustainability can be challenging, and we don't have all the answers. Problem solving and ideation requires collaboration, between government department’s agencies and bodies, academia, professional and tech bodies, and charities.

The GDSA brings a team of specialists together, from existing or prospective digital and data suppliers to the UK Government. The group collaborate to come up with proposals for new tooling, reporting methodologies, training, frameworks, and guidance on key societal issues. The main purpose of GDSA is promoting and progressing knowledge and capabilities to deliver sustainable digital data and technology across UK Government and their suppliers.

GDSA collects, shares, and demonstrates best practice aligned to Defra and the UK Government’s Greening Government Commitments. GDSA feeds recommendations into updates and the creation of policy and strategy. GDSA members have a chance to suggest best practice and overcome inhibitors to their own company’s success in digital sustainability, and collaborate, learn and share insights with other government suppliers.

GDSA structure

GDSA is made up of three core Working Groups:

  • Circular Economy
  • Scope 3 Emissions
  • Planetary Impact

The working groups have the opportunity to collaborate with other Government suppliers and interested parties to look for opportunities for improvement within Digital Sustainability, come up with proposals for new tooling, reporting methodologies, training, frameworks, and guidance on key societal issues. They raise awareness on digital sustainability with peers, and trial and pilot innovative approaches to streamline reporting.

These working groups feed into a GDSA Governance group (formerly supporting success group). Outputs of the GDSA working groups and governance group feed into a cross government committee and may lead to legislation reforms.

*More information will be available on the Working Groups soon.


GDSA is formed of working groups based on current key topics within digital sustainability, each working group will submit annual objectives to Defra for approval. These will be linked to Defra's core ICT Sustainability aims.

Once the objectives have been approved the working group will collaborate to realise these objectives, through ideation, problem solving and by developing proposals or suggestions for amendments to government policies and practices.

Each working group has a nominated lead, this lead will organise sessions and feed outputs into the GDSA governance team. The GDSA governance team acts as a support network for the working groups, reviews outputs of WG sessions, and reviews proposals for appraisal by the Government team, who will, if approved, support the delivery of any policy creation, revision or similar at a cross government level. The GDSA governance groups feed into a cross government digital sustainability steering group.

Why join GDSA?

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to legislate to reach net zero by 2050. Government is committed to ambitious decarbonisation measures across society.

As technology becomes more important to our nations decarbonisation, both as part of the solution and a risk, the UK Government Digital Sustainability Alliance (GDSA) needs to work together to drive change within digital and ICT sustainability, by innovative and practical problem solving. GDSA members will work together to identify and review risks and opportunities, problem solve and deliver suggestions for amendments to government policies and practices within ICT and Digital Sustainability to ensure that we;

1. Minimise waste and embrace circular economy concepts.

2. Use resources more sustainably and efficiently.

3. Procure ICT with social value and environmental considerations.

4. Adapt to climate change.

5. Seek innovation opportunities.

6. Develop tooling and techniques to capture ICT carbon footprints.

GDSA is currently closed to new members.

GDSA members

*More information will be available on the members soon.

To find out more about GDSA please contact