Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) Press Kit

GISWatch 2020 puts the spotlight on technology, the environment and a sustainable world

Groundbreaking report showcases urgent calls to action from the global South

Can technology play a constructive role in confronting environmental and climate crises? The new edition of the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), titled Technology, the environment and a sustainable world: Responses from the global South, connects researchers from across the globe to examine the role of technology from a climate justice perspective.

This edition, launched on 22 April 2021 on International Earth Day, addresses the twin challenges of environmental crises and digital transformation. It offers perspectives that counter dominant techno-solutionist approaches that overlook research on the negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts of digital technologies.

Read the full edition of GISWatch 2020 on “Technology, the environment and a sustainable world: Responses from the global South

What will you discover in the report?

This critical and urgent edition of GISWatch contains 46 country and regional reports, together with a series of thematic reports. They explore multi-dimensional challenges confronting civil society in our efforts to build a just and sustainable world in the age of digital transformation.

From lithium extraction in the salt flats of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile to the use of artificial intelligence for curbing animal trade in Uganda, from gender-inclusive approaches for high frequency radio connectivity projects in Brazil to the potential of community networks to create a more just and sustainable world – follow our researchers around the globe as they look at the role of technology in the fight for climate justice.

In the words of GISWatch editor Alan Finlay, "What we wanted to do was to problematise the normative relationship between environmental sustainability and technology: the idea that technology, and the use of technology, is necessarily and automatically a panacea to the various environmental crises facing the planet."

What are GISWatch authors are saying about technology and the environment?

"Where technology is referred to in the SDGs, the assumption is that it is beneficial: that it brings progress but not problems. This is obviously inadequate. The role of technology in facilitating (and threatening) sustainable development is in constant, complex flux." 
– Thematic report: "The Sustainable Development Goals and the environment" by David Souter

"Community networks inherently embody the principles of sustainability and local involvement, and do not put the onus of connectivity on someone else. Instead they leverage the limited resources – yet unlimited ingenuity – of local people to address the inherent human need and desire to communicate and be informed."
– Thematic report: "Community networks: A people and environment-centred approach to connectivity" by the “Connecting the Unconnected” project team

"While climate and environmental emergencies have gained mainstream attention, the associated responses and technology solutions are largely framed by a conventional neoliberal growth paradigm. Perhaps the current COVID-19 pandemic is the crisis humanity needed to radically rethink the purpose of our existence and create more-than-human futures."
– Australia country report: "A capitalocentric review of technology for sustainable development: The case for more-than-human design" by Queensland University of Technology and Deakin University

"Access to communication has become a vital necessity for forest communities. It not only contributes to the autonomy of traditional and Indigenous communities, but also to the conservation and protection of their environment. The sustainability of community networks can imply many different elements, and we believe that one of them is gender openness and equity that, in turn, is an essential element of digital inclusion."
– Brazil country report: "Towards a coherent and gender-inclusive approach for high frequency radio connectivity projects" by Brazilian Association of Digital Radio (ABRADIG)

"The ecological crisis – caused by the exploitation of natural resources – cannot be solved with more extractivism. Gigantic extractivist operations in the Latin American region contradict the “green” image that tech companies want to promote. A human rights agenda in the digital context must be cautious about the green-washing operations that tech corporations do today."
 Latin America regional report: "White gold, digital destruction: Research and awareness on the human rights implications of the extraction of lithium perpetrated by the tech industry in Latin American ecosystems" by Gato.Earth

"Increasingly, AI will be helping globally in ensuring that wildlife rangers can get the upper hand on the poachers preying on our planet’s endangered wildlife. Technology partnerships have the potential to be transformative in the area of wildlife conservation, enabling conservationists to target resources more efficiently and more effectively and to scale impact."
– Uganda country report: "Catching the poachers: Artificial intelligence in wildlife conservation" by Space for Giants

...and much more groundbreaking content can be found in the full edition of GISWatch 2020

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About GISWatch

What is the Global Information Society Watch? 

GISWatch is a space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of international and national commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society. It is a worldwide network of watchers, civil society activists monitoring the state of information and communications-related policies and how they affect their societies, positively and negatively. The network jointly publishes a book collecting thematic, regional and country reports. You can read more about it here.

What does GISWatch focus on? 

It focuses on monitoring progress made towards implementing the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action agenda and other international and national commitments related to information and communications. It also provides analytical overviews of institutions involved in implementation. 

So is it a publication? 

Yes, but not only. GISWatch is also a process and a network of civil society activists who advocate for policy focused on human rights and sustainable development both nationally and internationally. The long-term goal of the project is to build policy analysis skills and "habits" into the work of civil society organisations that work in the areas of ICT for development, democracy and social justice.

What is the ultimate goal of this process/network?

GISWatch aims to make governments and international organisations accountable for meeting the commitments they make.

Who launched this initiative?

GISWatch is an initiative of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and partners. It follows up on APC's long-term interest in the impact of civil society on governance processes and its efforts to enhance public participation in national and international forums.

How many editions have been launched so far?

Fourteen regular GISWatch editions have been launched to date. Seven special GISWatch editions have also been published.

How many country reports does an edition include?

Most editions contain over 40 country and regional reports, along with a series of focused thematic reports by worldwide experts in each field.

How many authors have written for GISWatch?

Over 600 authors have written for GISWatch to date.

​​​​​​GISWatch in the press
Browse previous editions of GISWatch

See the covers of all the GISWatch editions: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

See videos and coverage of GISWatch launches: 201820192020

GISWatch 2020 seeks to understand the constructive and destructive roles that technology can play in confronting the climate crises. It disrupts the normative understanding of technology being an easy panacea to the planet’s environmental challenges and suggests that a nuanced and contextual use of technology is necessary for real sustainability to be achieved.

GISWatch 2019 looks at the intersection between artificial intelligence (AI) and human rights, social justice and development. While pointing to the positive use of AI to enable rights in ways that were not easily possible before, this edition of GISWatch highlights the real threats that we need to pay attention to if we are going to build an AI-embedded future that enables human dignity.

GISWatch 2018 focuses on local access models, specifically, community networks as self-organised, self-managed or locally developed solutions for local access. The research draws on the idea that one of the keys to affordable access is giving local people the skills and tools to solve their own connectivity challenges.

GISWatch 2017 focuses on National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs), now widely recognised as a vital element of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process. A special edition of GISWatch was published as a companion edition to the 2017 GISWatch annual report, called “Internet governance from the edges – NRIs in their own words”.

Another 2017 special edition brings together analysis on the criminalisation of online expression from six Asian states: Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.

GISWatch 2016 illustrates the link between the internet and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs).

GISWatch 2015 presents stories from around the world on how the politics of sex and sexual rights activism take place online.

GISWatch 2014 tracks the state of communications surveillance around the world.

GISWatch 2013 explores women’s rights and gender through the lens of information and communications technologies, covering issues such as access to infrastructure, participation, online disobedience and sexuality online.

GISWatch 2012 focuses on internet and corruption online, including institutional reviews and mapping.

GISWatch 2011 focuses on internet rights as human rights. 

GISWatch 2010 addresses ICTs and environmental sustainability.

GISWatch 2009 reports on access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy.

GISWatch 2008 tracks access to ICT infrastructure.

GISWatch 2007 explores citizen participation in ICT policy processes.

About APC

APC is an international network of civil society organisations founded in 1990 dedicated to empowering and supporting people working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment, through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). We work to build a world in which all people have easy, equal and affordable access to the creative potential of ICTs to improve their lives and create more democratic and egalitarian societies. Visit us at https://www.apc.org/en

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