What is the 4th Wave of Environmentalism?

What is the 4th Wave of Environmentalism?

What is the 4th Wave of Environmentalism?

Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, is the child of the third industrial revolution rather than a separate development. Industry 4.0 introduces the concept of the “smart factory” where cyber, physical and smart systems monitor factory processes. Through the Internet of Things (IT), physical assets and systems communicate with each other and with humans in real-time. Other technologies that are part of Industry 4.0 include big data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, etc.

When we investigate at Industry 4.0 and the 4th Wave of Environmentalism, we clearly notice an overlap in the innovations and emerging technologies that are fueling both trends.

What is the 4th Wave of Environmentalism?
We will describe the first previous three waves and last fourth waves to you.

First Wave of Environmentalism: Characterized by a greater awareness of the need for conservation, this era started in the 1860s and extended until the 1960s. Conservation efforts included the establishment of National Parks in the U.S. with the goal of preserving and protecting wildlife, forests and natural resources.


Second Wave of Environmentalism: This era stretched from the 1960s to the 1980s. It was marked by greater environmental activism targeting overconsumption, pollution and other negative impacts on the environment. In the U.S., the EPA was established in 1970, and the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act passed in 1963 and 1972 respectively.

Third Wave of Environmentalism: This period started in the 1990s, especially with the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, which produced the Rio Declaration. The era was characterized by market-based incentives and solutions to achieve environmental goals, such as the reduction of packaging waste, greater recycling efforts, cap-and-trade programs, etc.

And now we are in the midst of a 4th Wave of Environmentalism. It is characterized by the use of innovation and emerging technologies, such as drones, sensors, blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, natural resource consumption and waste generation, and to achieve other environmental goals. The fourth wave consists of the use of technology to benefit the environment, not just the bottom line.