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APC member and partner ICT and environmental sustainability initiatives, 2008-2010
Below is an overview of activities that APC members and partners are involved in that relate to ICTs and environmental sustainability, including climate change, in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. This is by no means a comprehensive list. It is compiled from information that members and partners shared with APC.
The Arid Lands Information Network, Kenya
The Arid Lands Network (Kenya) has two programmes which have been leveraging the use of ICTs to help communities adapt to climate change. First, they produced a platform providing support materials and information on climate change adaptations for local Kenyan communities. Complementing is a farmer-led grassroots programme on best practices and local management of adaptation knowledge. (http://www.alin.or.ke/default/index.asp, Overview of ARLIN's project promoting environmental sustainability is available at http://www.apc.org/en/news/cybercafe-container-rural-kenyas-mobile-internet-s)
E-Knowledge for Women in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe
EKOWISA (a member of APC Africa Women) has started to engage and raise awareness of e-waste issues in current legislative process notably the ICT Bill discussions among parliamentarians, councillors and civil society organisations. This is a relatively new area for Zimbabwe and the development of ICT4D could greatly benefit regional discussions that you are planning to have.
In discussions with Environmental Management Agency during the GISWatch research Ekowisa did on e-waste management, the manager showed willingness to engage with civil society organisations to do activities that will highlight e-waste issues at local level that could lead to policy changes. EKOWISA could bring gender equity and equality perspectives to enrich the process.
Protege QV, Cameroon
In 2008, PROTEGE QV (Cameroon)with the support of Artists Project Earth (http://www.apeuk.org) implemented a project not specifically related on water but on global climate change. The goal of the initiative was to sensitize rural and urban communities in Cameroon on climate change. The specific objective was to elaborate a resource kit (RK) that can be used by community radios in Cameroon for broadcasting on climate change and actions to be taken at individual and community levels to prevent it.
Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria
As a rural organization, Fantsuam Foundation (Nigeria) has raised local awareness on the impact of changing climatic patterns on agriculture, which is the primary occupation of its host communities. Late rains followed by excessive rainfalls has caused disruptions and affected household food security significantly. Fantsuam has also come to appreciate the role children can play in promoting environmentally friendly life styles at the grassroots level, and we have just established a Children's Parliament who have identified Environment as one of their key activities this year. Fantsuam will be working closely with this parliament. Fantsuam is also involved in several environmental initiatives: ranging from permaculture to renewable energy to waste management. (More information on Fantsuam's project that uses recycled computer solutions and sustainable energy sources - http://fantsuam.it46.se/S/case_study (doesn't contain many details on the above issues, though).
Fantsuam Foundation is currently developing an Eco-Village as a model for hands-on training in permacultural practices in which ICTs are used to enhance water storage and recycling. Waste disposal is also closely linked to Water conservation in the rural communities of Nigeria. Streams are often used as places to dump domestic garbage, so regeneration of these water sources often requires community engagement and provision of more efficient and accessible waste disposal systems.
The recent flooding in several farming communities in Nigeria, due to heavy rains and weakened structures of the traditional mud houses provides an opportunity to link deforestation, garbage disposal and climate change using powerful images.
ArabDev (Egypt) has developed the Arabic version of the environmental information kit for UNDP Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Egypt. The initiative focused on presenting complex technical environmental information for climate change, international waters, land degradation, and biodiversity in a simplified version accessible to the general public. This was the first information kit of its kind in the Arab region.
ArabDev was also a partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Global System of Sustainable Development (GSSD). ArabDev has conducted various research projects in Egypt and North Africa concerning environment, information technology and gender. It has high interest and commitment to a longer term programmatic approach, especially as the issue of climate change is of utmost importance for Egypt!
Arabdev and APC are currently exploring the possibility of a joint partnership re. a MENA governance programme initiative, that could be scaled to other areas later on. The objectives, in a nutshell, are to promote communication and media sharing in the region among media professionals, civil society and youth based on proper media legal issues. The programme will offer legal and media training to promote open, quality discourses based on cross cutting sectors like water, climate change, gender, and other issues of interest. It will offer media professionals, civil groups and private citizens the tools to responsibly advocate, initiate and participate in vital issues.
Digital Empowerment Foundation, India
DEF has developed Drinking Water Information Management System called NeerJaal: www.neerjaal.org. DEF is working with Barefoot College in Rajasthan. They have got grant from Department of Science and Technology, Gov of India Fund over, the DST is considering extending the project and giving next phase of funding. They are now also approaching Ministry of Rural Development for support.
The way the project works is that: they target the village level women and men in the following:
identify sources of drinking
collect water samples
train them them how to do test the water using indigenously developed water testing tools to have qualitative and quantitative data
train them in using the neerjaal system that has been developed and upload the community driven and community developed data
Voice produced a video documentary on climate change and its impact jointly with a Belgium group. It has previously created films on food supply, agriculture and the empowerment of rural women. (http://www.voicebd.org) One of the ideas to share, to build up and strengthen communities and movements, CSOs engaged in water/climate change movements through ICTs including using new forms of media. For example, using Facebook communities, students engaged in using ICTs.
Research part cane be: scoping ICTs and engagement of youth in water/climate change issues.
Bangladesh Friendship Education Society works as part of an action research initiative on Disaster and Climate Change issues in addressing Communication for Change.
Bytesforall Bangladesh has done an extensive research on all existing policies related to climate change, water and environment impact and identified issues that are related to use of ICTs. One research gap that Bytesforall Bangladesh has identified is around eWaste issues as there is no relevant policy on this particular topic. Therefore it is working to conduct another in-depth research on eWaste policy and context in Bangladesh. It is also planning to organize an online and face to face consultation around ICTs, climate change and environment issues. Currently, Bytesforall Bangladesh is hosting an online consultation with 'Access to Information' (A2I) program (supported by UNDP Bangladesh and hosted at Prime Minister's Office) who prepared a strategy document that includes many topic of development including ICTs role to climate change and environment. Its co-founder, Partha Sarker worked with Sustainable Development Networking Program (SDNP Bangladesh) to assess the resource needs of different organizations that work on environment issues and provided recommendations in creating an information network.
Bytesforall Pakistan's coordinator Shahzad Ahmad worked with Stockholm Environment Institute, York University, UK and OXFAM GB to develop a media guide on communicating climate change. The guide was used for a national level media workshop in Pakistan held on 12-14 May 2009. We are getting Liz Barclay from BBC 4 and Dr. Gary Haq from York as resource persons. After the workshop, the guide was made available to all media outfits and advocacy organizations. This was a joint effort of SEI, OXFAM and IUCN.
EngageMedia has recently released a compile of short videos responding to climate issues from Asia Pacific. The entire project used open licensed content including captioning / subtitling now available as a bittorent compile. More recently, we developed a distribution workshop to assist climate campaigners improve their use of video online when working on climate issues.
Although not directly related to water, that rising water levels IS an issue raised by groups and documented in the compile, that we use various "new media" / ICTs to stimulate public discussion and provide means for deeper public engagement in these issues, is a valid component within an overall strategy. http://engagemedia.org/climate-crisis/
FYI, a short video of EngageMedia's T4RA Climate Workshop in SEL 49, Jakarta. Participants included representatives from Javin, Greenpeace, Jatam, Air Putih, ProFauna and Forum Lenteng. http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/Novaruth/videos/t4ra-climate-workshop/view
APC.au directors have been involved in climate research since the late 1980's, having established the first database on climate change research in Australia (Greenhouse Action Australia). We have also assisted in the establishment of a national network of local government environment officers (CouncilNet) and a regional-wide network of environment groups and associations in Asia dealing with climate change and forestry issues (Pactok). All three projects, and many more besides, laid the foundation for networks and activities that are still active today.
Presently, apc.au is producing of a series of micro documentaries depicting the impacts on the forest communities of Sarawak, Malaysia, due to climate change and the government's proposed hydro-electric dam construction (http://wiki.apc.org.au/index.php?title=Sarawak_Gone)
Research projects apc.au has recently performed include:
- Mapping of arts activity across the state of Victoria and a proposal for a multimedia documentation of models of arts practice that has an online capacity to connect to Disability Online (http://wiki.apc.org.au/index.php?title=AADProject_Mapping_Report)
- Advice on tools, design and implementation of arts and disabilities events and services database throughout Victoria (http://wiki.apc.org.au/index.php?title=AADProject_Mapping)
- Melbourne Outside the Square Web 2.0 / social networking advisory (http://wiki.apc.org.au/index.php?title=MOTS)
- Background research and onsite investigations for the African component of the Home Lands project (http://wiki.apc.org.au/index.php?title=Home_Lands_Pilot_Research)
APC.au is firmly committed to the use of ICTS to develop awareness of and facilitate action towards addressing climate and environmental issues. Our objectives include working to create a sustainable environment for society, corporations and individuals.
Alternatives (Canada) has identified environmental sustainability as a strategic priority in its present five-year action plan. Current projects include the rooftop garden project and an online school of social ecology with partners in Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia. The rooftop garden project is an innovative partnership between Alternatives and Montreal-based community organisations to empower urban residents to produce their own food, green their neighborhoods and build healthy communities. Alternatives is currently implementing an international version of this project in Cuba. (http://www.alternatives.ca/rubrique163.html) During the WSF in Belem, Alternatives lunched a new Environmental Web platform called ECOmunidade (http://www.ecomunidades.net/fr) aiming at promoting new practices of social ecology contributing at developing sustainable societies in various sectors including social economy, eco-tourism, alternatives energies, urban agriculture, etc. Members of the project/network are Social org, unions, universities, etc.. based in Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina.
La Neta, Mexico
La Neta (Mexico) has had some experiences oriented to put ICT skills for environmental sustainability. Maybe the most important is the project "Emisiones: espacio virtual", that started In 1996 and was developed during 4 years. This project focused on using new information technologies to strengthen communication and information among organizations working on environmental issues such as pollution from toxic substances, environmental legislation and the right to information. One of the objectives was to publicize and promote actions in relation to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry (PRTR) that the National Institute of Ecology (Instituto Nacional de Ecología—INE) had been in the process of establishing.
The work was carried out basically through an Internet site and the emissions-l electronic mailing list, in addition to direct communication, in person or through the project’s electronic mail address with organizations and individuals interested in the subject. Emissions: espacio virtual was located— as its name indicates — in virtual space. It maintained contact with organizations around the country, and from its virtual "center" it distributed and administered its information services.
The environmental situation in Mexico is still very serious. While there is legislation that regulates and establishes norms for certain environmental aspects in the country, this has been insufficient. The emissions project was initiated because of the need in Mexico for a registry of industrial pollution and management of dangerous substances—which is the objective of the PRTR. With such a registry, we could be informed of toxic emissions in the air, water and soil that affect communities. Despite the compiling of data for this registry began, the communities didn´t have access to this information. That was a very important reason to unite efforts among environmental and citizen groups and organizations to continue to work for the right to environmental information, something not frequently demanded in Mexico. We were committed to this task and we were "virtually" and concretely united.
Thus, other purpose of the "Emisiones: Espacio Virtual" project was to communicate and take actions in response to the problem of dangerous substances in Mexico. In order to fulfill this purpose, we were in constant communication with organizations and individuals involved in this type of work in order to join efforts in promoting and exercising the right to environmental information, and to take actions designed to have an impact on environmental policies in terms of the use of cleaner technologies in industrial processes and to work for environmental justice. We developed also relationships with Canada and the United States. At the end of the project, it had managed to collect important information on the experiences of organizations fighting against the use of toxic substances and clandestine storage areas and trash dumps. We had lists of toxic substances; an alternative list proposed by NGOs; information on health and toxicology, and on pesticides; news items and actions taken; and information on environmental legislation, on the right to information, and on cross-border transporting of toxic substances. Other organizations participate on an ongoing basis by sending information and coordinating joint efforts in organizing actions in favor of a healthy environment. Representatives of the project attended international environmental meetings and developed relationships with groups in the United States and Canada, especially with environmental organizations and those working with the right to information.
During two years LaNeta developed the portal "LaNeta en ambiente" (some like LaNeta in environmental issues). It was an online collection of information regarding the environmental Mexican movement from NGOs. It was a response in terms that much of the environmental information on the internet is fragmented. Unfortunately its financial support was the principal reason for not to continue. Both projects Emisiones: espacio virtual and Laneta en ambiente were developed under the direction of Olinca Marino.
Webnetworks is developing Yodigo Inuktitut lessons for Inuit children in Nunavut, using traditional myths and legends that embed eco friendly values. They are also interested in the educational video game angle.
South and Central America
Sula Batsú, Cost Rica
Sulá Batsú (Costa Rica) together with Fundación Galileo and HIVOS is implementing the ReD-DES Program: Digital Resources for Sustainable Economic Development in Central America.
The general objective is to Strengthen sustainable economic development in the Central American region through the strategic incorporation of ICTs by organizations and actions taken in sustainable production and renewable energy that privilege improvement of life conditions for vulnerable populations living in poverty.
The four key areas identified were:
1. Empowering the organizations working in sustainable production and renewable energy,
2. Positioning the voices of the most vulnerable populations so that their experiences and visions are incorporated,
3. Developing markets for sustainable production and
4. Positioning local initiatives for renewable energy.
Target population: This regional program covers 5 countries in the Central American region (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica). The final target population is marginalized and poor individuals from Central America. The target population will be reached through our partner organizations working in sustainable production and renewable energy.
Implementation: HIVOS, Fundación Galileo and Cooperativa Sulá Batsú will implement the program jointly. Hivos will be in charge of the general coordination of the program, Sulá Batsú will take over the technical coordination and Fundación Galileo will oversee the technological aspects. More information (in Spanish): http://www.red-des.com/
Colnodo (Colombia) has been working in the field of Environmental Observatories. Right know we are running the Bogotá Envirionmental Observatory. This ICT tool can be used as a mechanism to follow up indicators that can support climate change research. The site is available at http://oab.ambientebogota.gov.co
Colnodo has also been working with the National Network for Sustainable Development, an instrument for engaging Colombian stakeholders in the dissemination and implementation of Agenda 21 of the United Nations. (Please see http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/index.htm for more information about Agenda 21.) Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action for tackling climate change and environmental degradation at the local, national, and global level. Colnodo's involvement in the project is focused on developing an electronic communications network to facilitate implementation of the agenda, broadcasting the successes of the initiatives via various media, and ensuring civil society involvement in policymaking related to sustainable development.
Colnodo was selected in 1994 to be the host of the Sustainable Development Network for Colombia. Colnodo has have been involved in the usage of ICTs and sustainable development mainly through the Sustainable Development Network in Colombia (http://www.rds.org.co). The main projects developed through the SDN includes:
Setup of online communities (even before Facebook) to facilitate the work of environmental groups working in:
Use, conservation and management of natural resources
Risk Reduction and Disaster Response
Sustainability in the Production Contex
Urban and Regional Development Environment
Support of networks
Environmental urban studies.
Strength of the Colombian Environmental National System through the SDN experience (http://www.rds.org.co/convenio_rds.htm). - Setup of the Environmental Observatories using ICTs (http://sisbim.colnodo.apc.org, http://oau.colnodo.apc.org). Colnodo participated to the Athens IGF in the panel Greening ICTs and The official national communication for Colombia about Climate Change.
Nodo Tau, Argentina
Nodo Tau (Argentina) runs several telecenters running refurbished computers, as well as operation of 'portable' telecentre – Dealing with these issues: e-waste, low power consumption computers, alternative power sources. We continue with the the refurbished telecentre project.
Last year we designed a basic computer training for CSOs in two districts of the city. The training program is called Rodantic, a name which comes from the fact that we have assembled a portable classroom (three cases) with a refurbished notebook (Pentium II) in a LTSP scheme (Linux Terminal Server Project). We have done two trainings last year and we organize another one this year. - Since June 2008, Nodo TAU designed and conducted a workshop on refurbishing and reconditioning of Computers in Santa Monica Special School (for school age children with disabilities) in the city of San Lorenzo, 27 km far from Rosario. See http://www.enredando.org.ar/noticias_desarrollo.shtml?x=52817.
In 2010, Nodo Tau will be making the first donations to some schools.
- During the year 2009, we prepared together with the Secretariat for Solidarity Economy of the Municipality of Rosario and the INTI (National Institute of Industrial Technology) a project of a WEEE recycling plant (Waste Electrical and Electronic devices) which will be managed by a cooperative. Nodo Tau is responsible for staff training and it will provide the three persons required for technical supervision of the plant (Management Unit of the plant). The project is approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Some minor items need to be finalized and it will start running in the month of March or no later than April.
In Huaral, at 100 km distance of Lima, CEPES (Peru) is improving the use of ICT for the water management, better ways to use water on farming, in a context of climate change and promoting the environmental sustainability on coast farmers. The irrigation management system of Huaral, now has a GIS. Coast farmers in Peru work under special conditions. One of them is the water shortage, that happens almost the entire year. That is why the monitoring of climate and environment turns to be very important to the coast farmers of Huaral, and the reason of CEPES's work. CEPES also runs a radio program on climate change-related issues that is broadcast by Radio Sembra Huaral. Climate change turns to be very important to coast farmers, specially the farmers with small crop areas, because they are more prone to be affected with temperature changes, humidity changes (plagues, crop diseases, etc.). Peru has been identified (as part of the andean reagion) as a country highly exposed to the negative impact of climate change (http://mudancasclimaticas.cptec.inpe.br/~rmclima/pdfs/livro/libro_cambioclimatico1.pdf). CEPES is also producing material in podcasting and video to be distributed to rural people.
CONDESAN, Andean region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile). Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN) is not a member of APC but a long-standing partner. CONDESAN has many years of experience working on water management issues. They have several initiatives in the Andean region looking at the issue of climate change and water, and some of them are closely linked with the intensive use of ICT. They have experience with remote sensors and hydrological monitoring in small catchment areas. They coordinate a GLORIA network (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environment (http://www.gloria.ac.at/) initiative in the Andes (http://www.gloria.ac.at/?a=9&b=24&l=1&m=EC&n=ANT) and they have also been engaged in the development of policy support systems like AguaAndes (http://testing.policysupport.org/cgi-bin/aguaandes/start.cgi?). For the last 5 years CONDESAN has been leading the Challenge Program on Water and Food in the Andes which second phase has just started. CONDESAN is leading a research in Peru on "Building Community Resilience to the Social Dimensions of Climate Change and Improving the Equity of Adaptation through the Action Coalition Framework" with the support of the World Bank.
If you are interested to hear more about it, they will be happy to provide more information. Contact: Miguel Saravia, Executive Director, Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion, Calle Mayorazgo 217, San Borja, Lima 41, Peru firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.condesan.org, http:// www.infoandina.org
BlueLink is an electronic information network, founded by environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and active citizens who believe that associated NGOs make a far greater and longer-lasting impact on environmental decision making when working in a coordinated effort. Over the years BlueLink has been serving as a forum for free information exchange and an independent communication platform for exchange of ideas and experiences among organisations and citizens from Bulgaria and other parts of the world. At present BlueLink is an up-to-date, virtual network offering a wide range of Internet-based services in order to stimulate the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by the civil sector and to amplify civic activism for progressive social change towards a socially and environmentally responsible policy. BlueLink led much of APC's embryonic work in environmental sustainability and ICTs, and its formidable experience in the field of ICTs and environmental sustainability has largely informed APC's plans for GreeningIT.
One World Platform for South Eastern Europe - OWPSEE
One World Platform for South Eastern Europe - OWPSEE (Bosnia-Herzegovina) has also prioritised environmental sustainability in its current action plan. It is planning to build a knowledge base on ICTs and environmental sustainability by collecting material from relevant regional and global information sources and translating into local working languages such as Bosnian and Serbian. It is also pursuing a joint activity with local women's organisations to address this issue from a gender perspective. (http://www.oneworldsee.org)
Computer Aid International, United Kingdom and Kenya
The production of a single personal computer (PC) consumes two and a half tonnes of materials and expends ten times its weight in fossil fuels. In the UK, Computer Aid International has successfully doubled the effective working life of 115,000 PCs through re-use. They have provided professionally refurbished PCs to educational and development organisations, including environment and climate change projects, in more than 100 developing countries. According to research from the UN University in Tokyo, extending PC life through re-use is twenty times more environmentally efficient than recycling a PC's component parts. By refurbishing 115,000 PCs, Computer Aid has made possible more than half a billion extra user hours.
Computer Aid is also helping metereological offices in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda decentralise the analysis of climate information by providing hardware and software to rural weather stations, enabling them to conduct in-house analysis and issue forecasts and advice to local farmers and fisher-people. By decentralising analysis capacity, the accuracy of local climate data is improved and the weather stations are able to assume an enhanced social function by assisting in community preparedness against droughts, storms, and other adverse climatic events. (This work is being done in partnership with national meteorological offices in Africa as well as with the UK Metereological Office and Reading University. Please see http://www.computeraid.org for more information).
Green Spider, Hungary
In Hungary, Green Spider is running a re-use programme called "Green PC." It collects used computers from organisations and individuals, refurbishes and outfits them with FOSS operating systems, and then donates them to small grassroots organisations. (http://www.zpok.hu)
StrawberryNet (Romania) is supporting other Romanian NGOs working on climate change issues by designing and hosting their websites for them and providing them with information management services. Most active amongst these NGOs are Terra Mileniul III and Alma-ro. This project is currently funded by the British Embassy's “Young Ambassadors against Climate Change” programme. (http://rac-ro.ngo.ro/concurs) StrawberryNet also hosts the website of the Climate Action Network – Romania. (http://www.rac-ro.ngo.ro)