Imme Scholz, Acting Director at DIE, held her inaugural lecture at the Centre for Ethics and Responsbility of Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg on 16 January. As part of the lecture series “We need to talk … about ethics in the digital world”, she addressed the challenges that policies for global sustainable development raise for humanity. In many countries we currently observe a correlation between high levels of socio-economic development and a large ecological footprint. This includes high greenhouse gas emissions, a high consumption of raw materials and a low share of waste products that are brought back into the production cycle. At the same time, in other countries the price of a low ecological footprint is often a very low level of production and consumption – in other words, poverty. According to Imme Scholz, a situation that ignores so many important aspects of social and environmental ethics cannot be maintained in the long run. Digitalisation provides many opportunities to support the achievement of sustainable development within the boundaries of the earth system, but also substantial risks. Besides technical innovations, societal debates are necessary to develop a more concrete understanding of what we can “ethically wish for”.