Technology, environmental justice and sustainability

      APC's roots are anchored in the environmental movements of the 1980s and 1990s, and many members have called for a strong network response to global environmental crises. The choice and use of digital technologies and the policies guiding their production, use and disposal (including extraction of raw materials) will have a huge impact on all life on this planet.

      For the strategic period between 2020-2023, APC’s focus is to create a just and sustainable world by harnessing the collective power of activists, organisations, excluded groups, communities and social movements, to challenge existing power structures and ensure that the internet is developed and governed as a global public good. APC has identified environmental justice and preservation of the earth as a priority area of focus for this period:

      "APC’s collective action and activism contribute to environmental justice and preservation of the earth, and mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the internet, digital technologies and the digital economy."

      APC is well positioned to connect academic and activist knowledge about how to use the internet and digital technologies to adapt to and combat climate change. Building on our history of emerging from green movements, and our ongoing connections with them, APC has decades-long experience with a hands-on approach to technology and its use in ways that are sustainable and promote social and environmental justice and human rights.

      Our impact objectives:
      1. The APC network’s capacity to take action against the climate crisis in solidarity with the broader environmental movement is strengthened.

      2. Practices, models and systems that are environmentally and socially sustainable are promoted, developed and adopted by the APC network.

      3. Policy and regulatory frameworks ensure that the environmental impact of digital technologies – from production and development to disposal of the devices used to run and interact with them – is measured, understood and mitigated.

      A circular economy approach to the development and use of digital technologies

      Intersecting social, economic and environmental crises require drastic changes from the existing linear design/production/use/disposal/recycling models to one that embraces a circular economy approach, aiming to eliminate waste and foster the continual reuse of resources. A critical assessment is needed of the impacts of the so-called digital/smart economy on communities' sustainable livelihoods.

      APC network is responding to the need for critical assessment and innovation in relation to the so-called digital/smart economy by drawing on the knowledge and experience of our members. At the virtual global IGF in December 2020, APC launched a preview of a guide to circular economies of digital devices, which includes a series of case studies that reflect some of the key challenges and priorities for a circular economy approach to the development and use of digital technologies. Starting in October 2021, APC will be rolling out new modules of the guide.

      Read APC’s preview guide to circular economies of digital devices here.

      A feminist principle of the internet for environmental justice

      The collaboratively developed Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPIs) are a series of statements that offer a gender and sexual rights lens on critical internet-related rights. These principles were drafted through an open process at the first “Imagine a Feminist Internet” meeting in April 2014, and subsequently brought to different workshops and events, where a new group of activists discussed, elaborated and revised the set of principles.

      Since 2019, APC and our partners have been exploring a new feminist principle of the internet for environmental justice.

      At the global Internet Governance Forum in November 2020, APC and Sursiendo co-organised a pre-event discussion, “Environmental justice and an anti-extractive internet: impacting policy through developing a feminist principle”, which explored ways to create a feminist principle for an anti-extractive internet and what this means for policy advocacy in internet governance spaces. The event included speakers from gato.earth, and the South African Climate Justice Charter, connecting with IGF participants to discuss and expand the core feminist principles of ethics of care into the conversations that focuses on the environment. This event built on two previous events, including an workshop in Mexico in 2019 on feminist principles of the internet for the environment, and an online event during the APC Convening focusing on a feminist response to environmental justice, “I do not want to lay down mountains to be able to use the internet: Decolonising technology as an act of care for the earth and ourselves”.

      Environmental rights are digital rights: convening discussions at RightsCon and the global IGF

      In 2020, APC convened a series of discussions on environmental and digital rights, including strategy sessions and workshops at RightsCon and the global Internet Governance Forum.

      In July 2020, APC and BlueLink convened a strategic discussion, “Environmental sustainability and internet governance: a roadmap for policy action” with invited speakers from APC network, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Greenpeace International, and the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition of the global IGF.

      Several points of convergence emerged from the strategic discussion, including the need to strengthen multi-layer dialogue and collaboration across environmental sustainability and internet governance policy spaces, and prioritize digital inclusion and accessibility. Participants in the discussion further converged in identifying a clear need for greater transparency and accountability for the impact of the ICT sector on environmental sustainability, and greater respect for alternative models of ICT development, and community rights to self determination.

      A report from the strategic discussion at RightsCon can be found here.

      In November 2020, APC, Intervozes, and BlueLink convened a workshop at the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) online, “Imagining an internet that serves environmental justice”, which included preliminary findings from mapping research conducted by APC to understand how digital rights organisations respond to the needs of environmental justice movements in the global South. The workshop further explored how environmental law and governance can inform the governance of the internet as a global commons.

       

      APC Environmental Justice and Sustainability Grants

      An APC Environmental Sustainability Group was formed by members, partners and staff of APC who are committed to collective action and activism for environmental justice and preservation of the Earth. The Group is building our collective capacity to work in solidarity with environmental defenders and movements for environmental justice, and to mitigate the negative and intersecting socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the internet, digital technologies and the digital economy.

      APC has recently launched a pilot grant to explore participatory approaches and practices for its grant-making strategy. It is addressed to APC organisational members that participate in the work of the APC Environmental Sustainability Group. The priority framework for this grant is guided by the environmental sustainability outcome (Outcome 6) of the APC Strategic Plan 2020-2023 and the specific priority focus has been set through a participatory decision-making process with members.

      Learn more about the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Grants here.

       

      Watch the video of 2019 Disco-tech in Berlin on environment and ICTs:


       

      Check all APC members and partners working on ICT and environmental sustainability initiatives.

       

      APC previous work on this area:

       

      Project team 
      Shawna Finnegan Canada
      Paula Martins Canada
      Jennifer Radloff South Africa
      Mike Jensen Portugal
      Maja Romano Canada
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