IGF 2018 WS #392 Sustainable Futures: The Internet, Rights, and the Environme

Subtheme(s): 

Other: Development, Innovation & Economic Issues

Development, Innovation & Economic Issues - Internet and the Environment

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Data-Gathering and cross-border information- sharing are increasingly central to international consensus-building around climate change and approaches to tackle specific factors that contribute to global warming and local environmental degradation such as carbon emissions, toxic waste, and water pollution. These high-level consultations have taken place as the expansion of cloud computing and data-centres create their own environmental burden, e.g. need for sources of power, contribution to global indicators of global warming such as heat emissions, environmental impact when located in environmentally sensitive regions such as the arctic circle or warmer climates. Related to these more recent concerns are longstanding issues around the amount of E-waste at a global level that is produced when consumer electronics, and now personal computers, mobile devices, and other network-dependent equipment are discarded without due care to toxic metals or fumes from burning . Mining of precious metals and minerals that are part of consumer electronics also have their own environmental cost, the wide use of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials for computing and network infrastructures notwithstanding. As smart cities and smart grids become part of urban planning and related R&D the relationship between these large-scale infrastructures, which are based on internet access, and equipment built to manage 'big data' applications that collect and monitor consumer-uses, are linked to the protection and enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms online in ways that have, to date, not yet been fully considered as part of internet governance agendas.

As the UN SDGs look to connect the next billion the relationship between recognition of emerging rights such as that of internet access and existing rights (e.g. the right to information, education) and the environmental burden of cloud computing services and data-processing requires our attention. Internet access as a sustainable development goal implies research into, and development of equipment, architectures, and services that are also environmentally sustainable in light of undertakings around Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. The technical community and private sector have in this regard a key role in terms of where they choose to invest in data-centres, and other large infrastructures when working with both vulnerable communities and in environmentally sensitive areas.

Format: 

Other - 90 Min

Description: OPEN FORUM/OPEN MIC combined session

Interventions: 

Speakers (note this is an open forum/mic session based on brief initial interventions)

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito, Article 19 - Civil Society (confirmed)
Pua Hunter, Cook Islands Government – Government (confirmed)
Maureen Hilyard, Cook Islands Internet Action Group – Civil Society (confirmed)
Marianne Franklin, IRPC – Civil Society (confirmed)

Michael Oghia – Youth DC Civil Society (invited)
Max Senges - Google - Private sector (invited)
Lisa Vermeer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs The Netherlands (invited)
Jim Puckett - Basel Action Network - Cvil society (invited)
Anita Gurumurthy - ITforChange (civil society)

The session will open with short (3 minute) statements from invited speakers from organizations and networks - some of whom have yet to take part in the IGF - who are working on how computing and the internet relate to environmental issues. For this reason the organizations that are being approached are identified, names of speakers pending confirmation. The middle part of the session will take input from the floor in the Open Mic segment. The final part will sum up the topics raised in order for an initial agenda to be agreed upon for further consideration.

The primary outcome will be a 'green paper' outlining a) the issues brought to the table and b) ways of addressing these issues and in which IG and Climate Change/Environment policy venues would be best broached as the IGF looks forward in light of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Diversity: 

Like the Internet, environmental issues are trans-border even when their strongest effects may be felt locally. Invited participants for this session represent different constituencies and different parts of the world. There will also be a number of people invited to contribute from the floor, as respondents to the initial statements. Once the dates of the IGF Meeting have been confirmed officially, these invitations can be issued to those who are travelling from further away.

The main objective is to develop an agenda for internet governance and the environment by bringing together stakeholders working on addressing issues around climate change on the one hand and, on the other, those working on those environmental issues related directly to computing and the internet's physical architecture. Speakers and participants will brainstorm the issue-areas at the intersection of human rights frameworks for sustainable internet governance, climate change and the environmental implications of emerging technologies (e.g. robotics, the internet of things) and internet service provision based on cloud computing design. Topics covered include

- the environmental dimensions relevant to the timeline of internet-dependent devices, data-storage facilities, and transmission architectures (e.g. submarine cables, satellites, mobile phone towers)
- the role played by extractive industries and eventual waste-disposal and recycling practices that can provide environmentally sustainable goods and services in order to fulfil the SDG goals for the internet and sustainable development.
-the control and impact of software applications and information-gathering techniques deployed in measuring, adapting and mitigating causes of global warming and climate change and their wider impact
-legislation, case law and trade agreements which (could) consider the control of information or require its disclosure, and their practical impact, e.g. smart grids and compilation of complete data sets in respect of energy sources

Discussion Facilitation: 

The session will open with short (3 minute) statements from invited speakers from organizations and networks - some of whom have yet to take part in the IGF - who are working on how computing and the internet relate to environmental issues. For this reason the organizations that are being approached are identified, names of speakers pending confirmation. The middle part of the session will take input from the floor in the Open Mic segment. After invited speakers have summed up their observations and recommendations the final part will establish consensus in the room as to the main topics raised in order for an initial agenda to be agreed upon for further consideration.

Online Participation: 

Online participation will be developed before the meeting begins by reaching out to the relevant listservs, and contacting specific people who cannot attend but who have an interest in the topic. A Tweet-wall is envisaged as part of the direct remote participation aspect as many people access the proceedings through Twitter. The Online moderator is experienced in all of these aspects. Setting up a live blog is also envisaged, following success of this approach in previous workshops.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678