Climate change agenda (or lack thereof) at the 2013 IGF

In September at a Stockholm conference of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate scientists released a key report which concluded that global warming is human induced with at least 95 percent certainty (let’s be honest – we’ve known this for years). While it is a hot topic in the media, it has not been popular on the agenda or in discussion at the 8th Internet Governance Forum in Bali, Indonesia. Workshop 50: The power of internet for disaster and environmental control and the Dynamic Coalition on Climate Change were the only two sessions organised in relation to the environment. Mentions of environmental sustainability and climate change are slim to none on Twitter.

On day 2 in Workshop 40: “Internet of Things – Challenges, Policy and Development” I asked myself how the internet of things can help climate change? The internet of things enables you to link objects to the internet. By 2020, “over 50 billion objects will be linked to the internet,” said a panelist in the Internet of Things workshop on Day 2 of the 2013 IGF – it will essentially change the world. Cisco released a report on the “Internet of Everything” placing high hopes on the internet of thing’s ability to conquer climate change by helping human beings become “better steward of our finite resources by improving how we sense, understand, and even manage our environment.” As sensors placed around the globe, we’ll gain the ability to measure the health of the planet and eventually eradicate problems such as hunger and ensuring availability of drinking water.

”Climate change is a global challenge that we cannot afford to lose,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. Much more needs to be done for ICTs to help bridge the gap between “the present we have and the future we want.” So why is nobody talking about climate change at the 2013 Internet Governance Forum? Lack of recognition of it as an issue? Lack of knowledge of how ICTs can help mitigate climate change? Is it simply that things like surveillance, privacy, enhanced cooperation, and multistakeholderism” are more important on the internet governance agenda?​

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