The relationship between technology, the environment and a sustainable world is the focus of the much-anticipated new edition of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) that APC will be launching soon. From lithium extraction in Latin America to telecommunications among Indigenous communities in the Amazon, from artificial intelligence for curbing illegal poaching and animal trade in Uganda to the potential of community networks to create a more just and sustainable world — this innovative research takes readers around the globe looking at the role of technology in the fight for climate justice.
We are excited to offer you a Sneak Peek to this groundbreaking research, which includes a special selection of full-length reports that will be included in the full edition. We invite you to explore this critical content and reach out to us regarding coverage, interviews with authors or anything else you may find relevant ahead of the official launch.
You can access the Sneak Peek here.
Read on for key insights from several country, regional and thematic reports that explore the constructive role that technology can play in confronting environmental and climate crises.
From the introduction: "Returning to the river", by long-time GISWatch editor Alan Finlay (APC)
What we wanted to do was to problematise the normative relationship that exists 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.
From the thematic report "The Sustainable Development Goals and the environment", by David Souter
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.
From the thematic report: "Community networks: A people and environment-centred approach to connectivity", by the “Connecting the Unconnected” project team
Initially heralded as a saviour, digital communication technologies have also contributed to and facilitated much of the activity around the world that is destroying life.
The modus operandi of the telecom and internet industry that promotes most of the digital communication technology we all use is based upon and thrives on the most elemental and destructive aspects of “novelty” capitalism.
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.
From the 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 (Australia)
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.
From the country report: "Towards a coherent and gender-inclusive approach for high frequency radio connectivity projects", by Brazilian Association of Digital Radio (ABRADIG) (Brazil)
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.
From the 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 (Latin America)
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.
From the country report: "Catching the poachers: Artificial intelligence in wildlife conservation", by Space for Giants (Uganda)
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.
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