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Illustration by Cathy Chen for APC

Throughout 2021, APC’s collective action and activism contributed to environmental justice and preservation of the earth, and mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the internet, digital technologies and the digital economy.

Created entry points to link environmental justice, feminist theory and practices with the use of digital technologies through research and discourse

Over the past two years, the APC network has worked to deepen the collective understanding of how digital technologies are impacting movements for environmental justice and sustainability, drawing on knowledge among our networks.

In April 2021, APC published the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) edition on "Technology, the environment and a sustainable world", with nine thematic and 46 country and regional reports that offer critical insight and frameworks for transformative conversations about the role of technology in our planetary struggles. GISWatch authors have been cited, re-published, and invited to share their research, and have contributed to deepening discussion of environmental justice among global digital rights communities and spaces, including RightsCon, Tech for Democracy and the global Internet Governance Forum.

Between October and November 2021, APC launched 12 modules and case studies in a guide to a circular economy of digital devices, currently available in English, French and Spanish. The guide offers an introduction to the life cycle of a digital device with case studies that bring attention to violations of environmental and human rights, and highlights circular practices and initiatives that reduce the negative impacts of digital technologies on the planet and create value for local communities.

APC's guide to a circular economy of digital devices was developed collaboratively by a working group of APC members, staff and partners, and in February and March 2022 we will convene regional workshops among the APC network and at MozFest to explore specific topics, including further practical resources and accessible materials.

Built up the capacity and resources of different stakeholders around specific issues and approaches to technology for environmental justice and sustainability

Capacity building over the past two years has been informal, with opportunities for members of the APC community to build their capacity through engaging in working groups, undertaking research, and participating in discussions among our network and in various forums.

In addition, following some of the activities that started in 2020, in 2021 APC launched a pilot participatory grant for environmental justice and sustainability, open to APC members in eligible countries.

Increased understanding among funders of the intersections of digital technologies, environmental justice and sustainability towards greater inclusion of these issues as part of donor agendas

In mid-2021, APC was asked by Ariadne Network, the Technology and Society Program at the Ford Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation to prepare a series of issue briefs for funders on potential priority areas for funding activities or initiatives that would bring the work of digital rights organisations and environmental justice actors closer together. The context was the recognition that there was a need for the two groups to work more collaboratively given the global environmental and climate emergency, and to better equip digital rights funders to craft grantmaking strategies that maximise impact on these issues.

Through a collaborative process that involved input and feedback from a group of interested APC members, partners and allies, we developed four briefs, each one of them stating the key problem from the perspective of the APC network, suggesting mechanisms or processes for engagement and actors worth engaging, and including specific recommendations for donors. The briefs include APC’s perspectives on how best to approach these needs and recommended processes, based on years of experience in working collaboratively on digital rights in the global South, covering the following areas: Mapping the gaps between digital rights and environmental justice actors in the global South; Environmental and digital rights: Exploring the potential for interplay and mutual reinforcement for better governance; Extractivism, mining and technology in the global South: Towards a common agenda for action; and Addressing the impact of disinformation on environmental movements through collaboration.

Documented communities’ practical experiences working with technology for environmental justice in analyses that can shape policy and technical responses to extractivist logic

APC policy advocacy over the past two years has focused on sharing research and facilitating discussion around the environmental justice dimensions of the internet and digital technologies in global spaces where APC is currently actively engaged, including the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and RightsCon.

In 2021, APC hosted a panel discussion at RightsCon to explore integrating environmental justice into transparency reporting in the tech sector, facilitated a discussion of how digital technologies support environmental justice at the Tech for Democracy Days of Action, and convened a roundtable in advance of the global IGF to discuss how diverse local communities shape and lead paths towards sustainable digital transformation. Members of this community were very active in contributing to the development of a report of the IGF Policy Network on Environment in 2021 on digitalisation for our common future.

In December 2021, APC and Digital Empowerment Foundation submitted input to a consultation of the ITU on the environmental impacts and benefits of the internet.

Nodo TAU contributed to social and digital inclusion of young people and environmental care in the interior of Argentina

In December 2021, Nodo TAU presented the programme “Comunidades Digitales” (Digital Communities), in alliance with the Municipality of Rosario and the Polo Tecnológico Rosario (shared by public and private holders to promote the local development of the ICT sector), to facilitate access to digital, educational and cultural inclusion of young people. Comunidades Digitales is the result of the formalisation and expansion of activities that Nodo TAU had been implementing between 2020 and 2021.

The programme aims to democratise access to ICTs in neighbourhoods of the city of Rosario, in Santa Fe province, through the training of young people in the use and management of applications, platforms and technological devices. As the programme evolves, by 2022 Nodo TAU will have provided technological equipment to 30 community organisations that will be able to train more than 450 young people who will have improved ability to access better jobs. This equipment, in compliance with current environmental regulations for electronic waste, will come from Nodo TAU’s E-Waste Management Plant for the treatment of disused equipment, which is donated by the companies associated to the Polo Tecnológico Rosario.

Jokkolabs Banjul conducted training on climate change mapping in the West Coast region of the Gambia

Jokkolabs Banjul, through its partner the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, conducted an eight-week programme starting in May 2021 which combined coding, mapping and climate change discussions in the West Coast region of the Gambia. It was attended by a total of 25 youth who were selected from coastal communities in the West Coast region with the help of the Gambia National Youth Council.

The main purpose of the project was to show the youth in these communities how they can use coding and mapping to provide solutions on climate change in their communities, which are largely coastal towns. They learned how to map on OpenStreetMaps and how to code using the Konduct Coach Learning platform, W3Schools and the Google Developers Codelabs platform. They spent the last few weeks of the programme working on coding projects and doing practical mapping activities in the field, mapping out hospitals, health centres, schools, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. This activity was greatly useful for Jokkolabs Banjul, as it blended technology with Sustainable Development Goal number 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Pangea deepened its users’ knowledge on how to make ethical tech choices

APC member in Barcelona Associació Pangea - Coordinadora Comunicació per a la Cooperació continued the 2020 initiative "How do you tech at your organisation?" to promote ethical technologies and their socially and environmentally responsible uses. In 2021 they carried out a new chapter of these environmental advocacy actions.

They identified their service users' need to deepen their knowledge and consequently increase their capacity to critically choose which technologies are more ethical, secure and sustainable. As a result, Pangea developed actions to better explain and expand critical choices, practices and concepts related to internet services.

With support from a 2021 APC research and campaign subgrant, they developed, published and disseminated a set of educational and practical materials on critical decisions in the consumption and use of information and communications technologies. The materials, initially developed in Spanish and Catalan, include guides on safe email usewebsite domain choicesethical selection of an internet service provider, and digital devices selection, among others. This represented a step forward in shortening the distance between transformative organisations and ethical technologies.

Read the full APC Annual Report 2021 here.