The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> We all live in a digital world.
We all need it to be open and safe.
We all want to trust.
>> And to be trusted.
We all despise control.
>> And desire freedom.
>> We are all united!
>> MAJA ROMANO: Hi, everybody. Good morning. Good afternoon. Thank you, everybody, for joining us here today. We're just going to give it one more minute, if that's all right with you. We have a couple of participants that we are waiting on and then we will be right with you.
>> MAJA ROMANO: Okay. I think maybe we can get going so we don't lose too much time. We're just waiting on a couple more participants, but maybe they can join in with us as soon as they connect. So welcome, everybody. My name is Maja Romano. Forgive me. I'm in Canada. It's the middle of the night here. It's important to discuss this edition of GISWatch that we put out. I want to welcome everyone for joining us. We have an excellent group of speakers today from the broader GISWatch community and from different sectors of society. And warm welcome and thank you for connecting to the session.
Shortly, we'll also have Valeria Betancourt joining us. Valeria is the manager of APC Communication and Policy Program here at APC, which is responsible for the publication of GISWatch.
We also have Alan Finlay, who is our long‑time editor of GISWatch for these past 15 years. So I see Valeria has joined us. So I will turn it over to Valeria to give us a few introductory remarks and then she will turn it over to Alan and to our participants. Welcome, Valeria.
>> VALERIA BETANCOURT: Thank you very much, Maja and apologies, everyone. Technologies always plays tricks sometimes.
Okay. So welcome to this session. We have usually launched the editions of our Global Information Society Watch in the IGF and even though this year we have published the current edition at the beginning of the second quarter of 2021, we did not want to miss the opportunity to draw on the challenges, the successes, responses, identified in this 2020 edition, and also to connect with the various conversations happening in the IGF around environmental sustainability.
But before I introduce the specific edition, let me just briefly mention that the Global Information Society Watch is a platform that provides critical civil society perspectives on the state of the digital societies and provides actions and steps towards deepening democracy and deepening the exercise of human rights and obviously towards bringing the challenges surrounding the struggle for social, gender and environmental justice.
The edition that we are discussing today in this session is part of our broader research, advocacy and movement building strategy around the intersection of environmental sustainability and digital technologies and in our work so far, including the research produced here in GISWatch, it's illustrating of the complexity of the challenges and issues, and how much these issues are entangled in global capitalism, including the emerging forms of capitalism, like surveillance capitalism, for instance, which really replicate the same patterns of the previous and the current one, the exploitation of instructivism and consumerism.
And what we have found, it's not really possible to see the full picture of the impact of digital technologies on our planet and it seems that it might be, perhaps an intentional result of the global system. However, this edition, with the thematic and country reports contribute, we believe, to provide an updated overview of the current and future challenges, and some of the responses to address them, particularly acknowledging that the burden of environmental destruction and pollution falls on communities ‑‑ on communities experiencing discrimination, marginalization and exclusion. In our work, we have been also found that this terrain, the terrain of environmental sustainability, includes conversations for territory and survival and obviously for profit. And this conversation that puts the notion of the public in the core, no, what's the public will think, what is the public good? That contestation includes decisions that are taken by the different stakeholders and how we actually manage the relationship with environment.
So obviously for us, it's very clear that these environmental struggles are located in multiple social and economic areas and the actions of the instructive industries, consumerism, corruption, policy weakness, the impact of environmental degradation and the gender‑based violence, criminal activities such as wildlife trafficking and also the prohibition of environmental protests. And this has serious implications.
And obviously so far, we have also found that this is not only about environmental degradation, but how much such degradation is frequently related to the well‑being of local communities, especially Indigenous and traditional groups. So we are talking about three intersection issues that have to be addressed in adequate policy frameworks and sustainable business models and lack of holistic and long‑term design.
So overall, we see that it is a struggle for environmental and climate justice, is multidimensional and multidisciplinary and that is, at the end of the day, a struggle for human rights, or gender justice or racial justice, health and socioeconomic well‑being.
As I mentioned this edition of GISWatch aligns with our broader strategic actions of APC and to mitigate the negative environmental impact of the Internet and other digital technologies. And we really believe that the IGF can explore and nurture a granular understanding of this cost share responsibilities that we all have that the different stakeholders we have and the policy responses that have Internet Governance implications in order to address these environmental and climate crises.
So welcome again to the session, and I will hand over to Alan Finlay, our GISWatch editor, who will be introducing our speakers and facilitating the conversations. So thank you. Over to you.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thank you, Valeria, that was a great summary. This is captured in the latest issue of GISWatch in a preliminary way and I put the link in the chat box for anyone who wants to know where to download the GISWatch. So welcome to our guests. We have five guests here today, unfortunately, one has not been able to make it. Five will help us think through environmental sustainability we have Jennifer Radloff, and we have Sarbani Banerjee Belur, in remote and rural access. And we have Maarten de Waard with Greenhost, and we have Michelle Thorne at the Mozilla Foundation, and we have Narmine Abou Bakari. Welcome to you all.
How this session will work, I will have Jenny and Sarbani to make some preliminary points and observations and a few general questions and then I will ask Maarten and Michelle and Narmine to respond.
Jenny, I will leap right into feminist perspective on tech and environmental sustainability. It can, for many people be difficult to understand the role of big technology and the context of the environmental crisis. And certainly as we know the examples of technology corporations not taking environmental sustainability very seriously. From a feminist's perspective, how do you understand the role of Big Tech in the environmental crisis?
>> JENNIFER RADLOFF: Thanks, Alan and I took a little bit of liberty and I have kind of ‑‑ I'm going to respond to the question and telling story and then extrapolating a few things from, because I think storytelling can be quite powerful. Please stop me if I go on too long and I'm going to read from some notes so I don't forget anything.
So really, on reflecting on what to say here, was realizing how ubiquitous it is. I believe the person was political and that we learn from embodied experience.
And also to say that we, years ago, developed the feminist principles of the Internet and I'm wondering if someone could just drop into the chat the link to the FPIs. And we are busy working on a feminist on principles on the environment.
So to start with a little story. At the age of 17 ‑‑ and I'm from South Africa, I must say, and I am connecting to the Internet from our power producer SCOM who used fossil fuels to power our electricity grid.
So at the age of 17, I walked the wild coast, which was a homeland called the Transkei. And at one point in this walk, we had to hide overnight and then walk at dawn across a stretch of land that had been bought by a white‑owned company, the concession given by the government, to blast the coast and make an exclusive resort. This impacted the coastal community in huge ways. It was their ancestorial land. Many of them subsistence fisher people. They lost their income and became servants to the resorts and losing all of their rights and agencies.
I'm speaking to this because the point is power and the government deciding who gets access to resources. And then admitting my age, at the age of 60, I walked the Wild Coast which is now known as the Pondoland. It's a 50‑mile stretch of coast which is now being ‑‑ an Australian mining company is wanting to mine this for minerals which obviously is one of the ways that powers the Internet. So the community of Xolobeni, is going to lose potentially their income. So the Amadiba Committee who are fighting this have lost 18 of their activists who have been killed in this resistance. On the 1st of December, a Dutch company has done seismic testing, which affects the whales and the biodiverse ecosystem.
Why the story? Because it speaks to power and marginalization, and it brings out a few points I would like to highlight in relation to Big Tech and environmental justice. And also to say, we can both resist and imagine, which is the critical point around the feminist principles of the Internet, because it actually is imagining an Internet that we want and why environmental justice and technology ask something that we are working on a lot.
And also to say that when we talk about Big Tech, it's not just one monolith and I think we have to be mindful of this and there's degrees of culpability in relation to this, but I want to make five points briefly. The one is colonization. So from the above story we can see the impact of colonization. The communities most affected by the colonization are fighting to preserve ancestorial lands against capitalism and extractivism. And a lot of these are women. They bear the brunt, and the profits are made by the companies, often not South African companies.
And this form of colonization, feeds tech industry, who largely rely on fossil fuels. So first point, we need to decolonize not just extractivism, but whose information is being shared by Big Tech.
Second point, time is a construct of exploitation. Big Tech thrives on constantly being busy and encourages individual use. This energizes an environment of busyness that does not factor in care and risk, which are key to feminist principles. Alternatively, we can share infrastructure, software and networks through community cooperative services that are based on principles of slowing down and not having 24/7 access.
The faster technology moves, the more water is needed to cool data centers and the more energy is needed to power the system and more waste is produced.
Third point, and I'm naming this, taking from Dr. Safiya Noble, the algorithms of big data. Big Tech can be a driver of this misinformation, with algorithms that are defined by who they are, and where they are located. Again, the power that Big Tech that has silences some voices, and usually voices with less structural power and this invariably includes Indigenous people, queer people, young people, and People of Color.
And then a good example of this, which really struck me was in terms of marginalizations of certain voices was when a young Uganda climate activist was cut out of a photo taken with other young white activist ‑‑ other young all white activists. It's just an example that values some climate justice opinions over others.
And fourth point, environmental justice activists we know that women human rights defenders are usually the most at risk, in communications who defend land and territories and we have seen this through the women human rights defending coalition. And that includes communities like I mentioned from Xolobeni and this is developed by Big Tech companies, sold to governments and used to monitor and silence activists. So this, I think is an incredibly serious point we need to take into account.
And then a fifth point is looking at the green energy industry, which to a point has become new field for extractivism. We need to be really careful about that.
And then just to end off. Those are sites of resistance. I think it's important to imagine ways forward.
Thinking inside of the capitalist framework, only enables capitalist solutions. So I think we need to be mindful of this.
And I think the IGF is a really important area, as Valeria mentioned that we can bring in voices from the environmental justice community. And then just to finish off, I want to read the start of a principle on feminist Internet and the environment. And this is what we have developed thus far. It reads the feminist Internet respects life in all of its forms.
It does not consume it. Our proposal for a feminist Internet principle in relation to the environment resignifies care and choices around the design, the extraction, the production, the consumption, and disposable of the technologies involve.
So thank you for your patience in listening to me, and I will back.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thanks, Jenny. That was great. Fascinating. Sarbani, you have ‑‑ you are the Asia coordinator for APC, but you also have experience in community connectivity. Of course, we know community networks is one form, and there's other hybrid or different kinds ‑‑ different but allied kinds of networks at the local level.
And they are incredibly important to empower most effective communities who are affected by environmental problems and extractive industry, and mega government, and mega projects and climate justice, some of which Jenny spoke to.
Jenny suggested a people and environmental centered approach to connectivity, rather than the world market items that we are offered. What is your perspective between human rights, community connectivity, and environmental rights?
>> SARBANI BANERJEE BELUR: Thank you, Alan, and thanks Maja for inviting me to be a speaker.
Yeah, I would like to mention about our work in APC, as part of APC's local network, access network prospect, called Lock net project. We began in the year 2019, which was ‑‑ which was just before the lockdown and the pandemic hit us. And we have set up four community networks in Asia, two in India, one in Myanmar, and one in Indonesia.
So in these community networks that we have set up, we are not replying completely on connectivity as a medium of ‑‑ as a medium to get connected. So our ‑‑ the way we look at connectivity is that it may not be an online connectivity all day. It can be an offline connectivity as well, but the most important thing about this connectivity is connectedness amongst the people in the community, in the community that we serve. So this is the crux of the off our network and the network is built on the needs the community.
So if there is a need by the community so set up a school and get connected through online or offline access. So we let them do that.
So it is sort of it’s open for everyone, for the communities to decide how they would like to set up the network. Age for what purpose. Now, most of these community networks organizations, with whom we work, not only in Asia, but in Latin America and in Africa, are organizations that work with remote, rural areas. Where the telecom infrastructure reach is very low, because of the use of users and things of that sort.
In most of the cases, in most of our organizations what we find is the connectivity needs has been directly related to environmental sustainability and environmental conservation. Let me give you examples of work we have done.
In India there are two groups, one is very close to Mumbai to give you a context, and another one is 50 kilometers away from Bangalore. Now in the community network where we seek to grow nearby to Mumbai is the location where Indigenous tribes are located and they did not have ‑‑ they have a lot of local knowledge about the biodiversity around them. They know which industry gives fruit at what time of the year. Everything is known to them and they did not have a repository of that knowledge. So that knowledge has been passed down generation after generation by word of mouth.
So the need was to preserve their environment around them, the biodiversity around them and work to creating a local knowledge repository which is called the biodiversity sharing platform, because ‑‑ a knowledge sharing platform that has been made, which we created as part of the AP C.'s standard project. We created this platform for them. And in this platform, the communities come together in the offline network, in an offline mesh network through the phones that they have, they either record interviews with community members or take photographs.
If they have a SmartPhone, they take photographs of the different types of biodiversity, Flora and fauna around them and they upload in the local access server. So this has created a local knowledge repository of this. It is very essential and is the need of the community.
And now, the question comes that we can't just talk about environmental sustainability without even uplifting their livelihood, their standard of living. So what has been done is that this biodiversity, the knowledge‑sharing platform, which has been created is also linked to an eCommerce platform which we have made available for them and the products, some the products that are not commercial products are sold online in the eCommerce platform. And the proceeds go directly to them in the community. This is one thing, and the report is on this community network that we worked to go with APC's funding. Now there are other community networks that in Indonesia I would like to mention, it works on activation. The name sustenance is through agricultivation and how that local knowledge building that they have 52 varieties of patty or rice is grown in that location.
They have repository in that platform.
Then I will tell you about this Myanmar network, there were a lot of coffee in this space. And coffee is something that they grow. They want to use the Internet for extracting more information about different types of ‑‑ different flavors honey made out of ‑‑ made from the bees that are there around and how they can make different types of wine out of it. You know, this is the environment that they live in. So most of our projects as part of APC.net project is around these frugal technologies and through the frugal technologies how communities can work together to preserve their biodiversity in which they live in. It's interest that in Asia there's connectivity between biodiversity and conservation, whereas in LAC, there's a lot more to do with taking on the extractive industries and the legal minors and so on. There's a distinct difference. And it's interesting to see you were talking about being offline and Jenny was talking more or less about slowing things down and also being offline. It does seem that the sort of ‑‑ the right to be offline is central to taking on the environmental crisis.
Michelle, from the Mozilla Foundation's perspective, I'm not sure if there were any particular points you would like to follow up on something that struck you as quite interesting?
>> MICHELLE THORNE: Yes, thank you so much and also thank you to APC for having this on the agenda and for the two panelists who have spoken so far. I really wanted to help to uplift and underscore the points that have been mentioned that were also covered in the GISWatch report, and I think particularly also to just say ‑‑ recognize and say thank you also to APC. We have been covering this topic at least ten years from your report from before, and I would like to add maybe a ‑‑ some perspectives or one of the ways we can continue to talk about this.
So one of the phrases that ‑‑ or at least I'm interested in testing with you all is what does it look like to talk about a fossil‑free Internet and how might we get there by something like 2030?
I think this question, I would love to hear feed from the APC community whether setting a goal like that, is a way to make a clear. That's one thing I would love to hear people's Internet, the fossil‑free Internet by 2030.
And secondly, the panelists have spoken about the importance of understanding Big Tech and its role in extractivism. I would also highlight the role Big Tech plays in selling its technology to speed up the extraction of fossil fuels and how that's increasingly becoming a topic amongst the workers that work for those companies.
And a guess also to ask this group, does the idea of divesting from Big Tech resonate and how might that also help to play into an advocacy narrative, both divesting in terms of moving finances, but also our attention, our time, and our infrastructure away from Big Tech.
And then lastly another idea I wanted to share with you or ask how it resonates is at least the way that I have seen some of these topics brought up in the tech sector is focus on emissions and greenhouse gases and while that's an important step, especially whether we talk about climate change. How do we talk about emissions and putting people at the heart and the people most affected by climate change at the heart? How can we ensure that climate justice is something that's more widely understood and acted upon within the tech sector?
I hope that's a helpful edition to Alan but, yes, I would love to hear people's thoughts on this idea good fossil free Internet by 2030 and divesting from Big Tech and centering climate justice in the tech sector.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thanks, Michelle. Just the clarity, divesting from Big Tech. You wouldn't ‑‑ literally in the stock market, you wouldn't buy the shares and what else do you mean, for my purpose for clarity?
>> MICHELLE THORNE: I think there's definitely the financial items and rifting on the divesting. There's a lot of money made as Big Tech stocks and they are seen as clean and green stocks. Maybe there's ways for us to economy that and ensure investments from various institutions, reevaluate, but I also think that means divestment in different ways. Where is our data living and what services are we using? And what platforms. Part of that divestment means shifting to items that are ‑‑ this is a new concept for me and I'm curious if this resonates with people or if there's ways to build on that kind of advocacy approach.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thank you. Very interesting.
I will take comments from Narmine and Maarten. Narmine from your side, was this anything that you found interesting from what anyone said so far?
>> NARMINE ABOU BAKARI: Yes, completely. What I found super interesting, the impact it has on extraction and mining on the communities and on women, particularly. So we recently published a study that really looks too the impact that tech can have on the environment. And one of them is the biggest is the manufacturing which includes the extraction.
So having that in mind that 71% of the impact is causing if a phase, reminds us of the importance of having products not being produced but trying to get fewer products to that extent. So the repair, the reuse perspective is really important because it really actually reflects how we could ensure that these communities are not being impacted that much. So it sounds like it's not really linked to the terminus but also the de‑colonialism, but, in fact, think it's one way of also trying to have a more ethic‑tech, respectful and sustainable one.
I'm thinking that the use of tech in general, this is one the second impacts that we see on the environment. And I strongly believe in providing ways for people to not overspend time on the phone and creating ‑‑ stopping the incentive of spending more time, more energy would be also a way of protecting our planet in a way and I could also share study because it really tries and going too a life cycle assessment of the impact of environmental second. It goes at every different phases, and tries to key where ethic and sustainability can be put into account or rethink as well.
So yes, definitely sharing it in the chat.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Just because I don't know, you know, obviously from South Africa example, we see the green party doing very well in Germany and you represent the green, the European Parliament, how seriously the issue of the impact of technology on the environment, the negative side, the dark side of technology taken in Europe, amongst, you know, environmentally conscious people?
>> NARMINE ABOU BAKARI: So the European Commission, when it started its mandate in 2019, emphasized the importance of having more digital technology while protecting the client. So the perspective on it so far, we want more tech and tech will save the planet. Which is not entirely wrong. It could help us, but since it's not assessing the real environmental impact, the outcome would not be that beneficial for the people at the end. I think this perspective has been really amplified so far by this race towards different countries, the willingness to be sovereign, also from China, which also make European countries invest even more in technologies, energy‑consuming technologies.
However, it doesn't mean that it hasn't taken it into account. It's only taken by the European politicians. So the European Commission is going to propose different legislative proposals. It was supposed to be published in December, one called "Sustainable Product Initiative." Circular electronic training initiative as well. And there's policy recommendations ‑‑ policy legislation aims to reduce the amount of ewaste, that the European countries are producing.
But since it only takes into being only the repairability aspects, it's it is not good enough to at least minimize the impact of digital technologies.
Now, we have decided to produce that study, also because we have seen the data is enormous. We ‑‑ we have difficulties within the European Union to have consensus information on the real cost and the real environmental impact and the healthy impact of digital technology and this is why we strongly ‑‑ we the greens believe we should have not only a scientific observatory and committee board, observing this data and making environmental labor and have a methodology that is the same among the European countries.
And this what we are trying to achieve, and we hope the study will also shift the perspective on the importance of really having the data but also assessing the impact. It's about the energy consumption of our manufacturing, also of our data center. So at various stages we have to think about rebound and the different impacts. And this is something that we hope that the European Commission will take into account in the future, but at the moment, we are not there yet. There were a lot of promises with little, I would say, potential interest in policy recommendation. So we hope that study will be at least the thought and basis of discussion with other political groups as well.
>> ALAN FINLAY: You raised a critical point of data, and that's a problem all around the world, and it's been raised in GISWatch reports and local data, to drive policy decisions as opposed to global data production for local policy decisions. This is a growing problem, I would say in the environmental sustainability and justice.
Maarten, if I can turn to you, what there's any particular point you want to comment on? And also if you could just tell us briefly a little bit good Greenhost.
>> MAARTEN DE WAARD: (No audio).
Resonates with me completely, and I want to lead with that also, because I like to find the places where I disagree, rather than trying to say everything again, but in a different way.
So first, I think I'm the only one in the panel that is from a commercial company. So I really appreciate the critique on capitalism. I mean, I share the critique as well, but something that Jenny said resonated with me. It was that thinking outside ‑‑ inside the capitalist framework only brings capitalist solutions. At Greenhost, this is something that we are trying to do. Yeah, I think I will just try to explain what we are trying to do, and I would hope that Jenny has some time to respond to that as well. So as a company, we try to keep our income partly from the commercial companies would want to host their websites on the Internet and what we try to do for them is do that as sustainably as possible.
So first to do anything sustainably on the Internet, first thing you need to consider is reducing the footprint or the ‑‑ whatever it is you are trying to do. So that means several companies that host websites would share a virtual machine with a bunch of other ‑‑ or would share an actual machine with a bunch of other customers on different virtual machines.
So we are trying to cram as much processing power into one server as we can. This is a common practice but it's also a sustainable practice. And to make everything we do sustainable, we need to do it on green energy. And the last pit of what we are trying to do is make our office sustainable. So we get secondhand furniture and we eat organic lunch, but that's a small footprint of the company as a whole in the end.
What I think really makes Greenhost a different company from other second companies or Internet companies is actually not this. Any company they can reduce their CPU uses or electricity uses as a whole, to a minimum, at least to, like, reduce costs. And if everything you do is run servers, that is, like, the majority of the costs.
It's also not very expensive to switch to green electricity, rather than ‑‑ well, what we call gray electricity, like gold powered electricity, especially for Europe‑based companies like ours.
But ‑‑ and at the same time, when you do, it's something that you can use for marketing, right? We have seen ads from Google or Microsoft saying everything they do is completely sustainable and so you shouldn't worry about using their services, right?
So then what is it that sets us apart? I think that we don't ‑‑ even though we are a commercial company, we don't prioritize income. We don't prioritize money as ‑‑ as a goal. So especially in the capitalist system, that is supposed to be the like, what you do, right? Especially if you have stakeholders. We don't sell stocks. We are not on that market. That's one the decisions we made to make sure we don't put money first, but we try to put people first.
Now, what does that mean? It means we have a special housing cluster, only for social good projects, that don't have to pay us anything. And money to do that comes either from funders that are part of our communicate and if that's not possible, we would still try to keep that alive from our commercial income. We try to do projects like the ones I'm currently involved with, called TechSpin where we want to make an alternative, a viable alternative to Google and Microsoft products, so you can drop out of the Google Docs thing that everybody loves and everybody wants to use, but in the end, it's powered by Big Tech, by a company that wants to make you addicted to their product.
I think it's a good thing that we are trying to do that and it's a good thing that we are a commercial company because if we weren't, I really doubt if we would have the means to sustain these projects. And I also doubt that we would get the funding that we do, for the social good projects because we cannot promise the funder ‑‑ like, after we finish the project, we will maintain it. It's really not and easy sell if you cannot say we will have a standard source ever income to maintain whatever you are trying to make.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thanks, Maarten. Michelle raised a fossil‑free Internet by 2030. Amongst the people you work with, anyway, in the business sector, is that something that people are talking about going green, moving away from fossil fuels or is it a relatively new idea amongst pockets of people amongst yourselves?
>> MAARTEN DE WAARD: I think it's something that talked about in the public‑facing parts of the Internet. We as Greenhost, we have our servers. We have switches and those are connected to the Amsterdam Internet exchange. That means that everything you do with us runs on sustainable energy. But the Internet is not just our servers. Everything that's connects between our servers and your computer, is sort of a black box for most people and a lot of energy consumption goes there too. We don't get to choose those companies: Most people don't get to choose, for example their own Internet service provider and the infrastructure in comment is also not very it's just one company per country, often.
I cannot say for sure. I don't know what kind of electricity those run on. They have list incentive to switch to fossil‑free electricity.
And then like to get a fossil free. I know Google and Microsoft are. And I know Google is, where they have a lot of solar parks. Microsoft is still in the process, and they have built this huge windmill park here in the Netherlands. The fact that their servers will be here in the Netherlands wind‑powered is great but at the same time, the fact that this huge company paid for all of these ‑‑ actually, they didn't pay for all of these windmills, but that's a different problem. Makes it harder for a lot of other places in the Netherlands to move away from fossil fuel.
While I like the idea of a fossil‑free Internet, we should be striving towards a fossil‑free world and prioritizing the Internet over anything else ‑‑ yeah, it shouldn't ‑‑ it shouldn't go at a cost of other things that should also become fossil fuel.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thank you.
Jenny, Maarten sort of wanted to open to you from the comments around ‑‑ the question is a big one, but he was saying clearly that agents can be agents of change within the kind of business catalyst environment.
>> JENNIFER RADLOFF: Yes, and I completely agree with you, Maarten. I think that ‑‑ I mean that comment comes from some the discussions we have been having about imagining a feminist principle on the environment. And one comment that came through is we shouldn't be talking about sustainability. We should be talking about decolonization. I think I like these radical inputs because it broadens our thinking and it broadens our ability to resist what we are trying to resist.
So I completely agree with what you are saying about making other choices, other than Google. I mean, APC has been trying to do that since we started, promoting free and open source software and it becomes really complicated and we found that in our feminist activism is often communities we work with are just given, you know, a laptop that already has Microsoft, and to shift to something different, is difficult. I think what we learned is to think out of the box.
So it pushes sorts those alternatives and yet, we work within a capitalist system. Yes, I'm I vegan but I get a lot of flack from friends because I'm middle‑class because I can afford it. The communities I was walking in recently, you know, they don't use energy ‑‑ much energy. Their food choices are limited. The food choices are sustainable. So it depends what lens you are looking through and where you are located and that I think that's why these conversations sore critical and why as digital rights activists we need to bring in environmental activists. And a fossil‑free Internet, let's work toward it and that will be one aspect of the fossil‑free world.
What this conversation has given me is that there are people who want to imagine something different. We have to start playing with those differences and imagining. And Maarten, I will totally use your services. Yeah, thank you for that.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Sarbani, I'm curious. Is that the community waiting for the services to come to them? Is it something that generally those communicates believe in? I mean from the tech perspective, I'm talking about.
>> Oh, yes. So from the tech perspective, I would like to mention that here in these remote ‑‑ in these communities that we work on, they would like to work a lot on appropriate technologies. Technologies and I really feel that ‑‑ that the technology development should not lead to standardization for our rural communities. I feel that standardization is only one way of technology development that can lead to a roadblock and for rural communities, rural communication, for example, the need for technology, diversification, technology expansion, has to be very crucial, crucial decision‑making of the communities themselves. Because are we thinking about how much power of electricity are we saving with we switch on these devices in the rural areas?
Are we thinking that can a local entrepreneur or a local technician become available when these devices are switched on in the rural areas. When it goes down, it is either thrown away or not used at all because there's no capacity building in the remote villages where people can tinker about with device and try to repair it that is not happening. So rather than going on the way or the direction of standardization, I would say that we should go in the direction of localization of technologies. And where the role of frugal and foundational technologies are very important because ‑‑ because, for example, I would like to think of a local source hardware router. And the vision of router is that it can run to one country to another and get customized by the rural communities that country. Nothing is closed source. Everything is open sourced.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Thanks, Sarbani. We are running a little bit out of time. We are running out of time. Sorry Sarbani. 30 seconds Michelle and Maarten if you want to make a comment at the end.
>> MICHELLE THORNE: Thank you for making the space to advance these issues and also for working on them for so long and I really think, yes, let's work together towards a fossil‑free and just Internet together that's in service to a larger transition for the world. And let's bill these alternatives that we're talking about divesting from Big Tech but investing in local, sustainable and inclusive solutions. Thank you for this great panel.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Narmine, final comments from you?
>> NARMINE ABOU BAKARI: Yes, thanks a lot as well. I really appreciate this conversation, especially when from a legislative perspective, we sometimes don't have the perspective of the people on the ground. We don't want to have the legislation that only impacts the European Union, obviously, because it's a global problem, the current problem is not only affecting our European existence but everyone across the world. So having this discussion is really important because we do want to reflect the efforts, the impacts on women and communities and I would be more than happy to touch base later on how we can build that ethical sustainable tech later, and thanks again.
>> ALAN FINLAY: Well, thank you, everyone. I really appreciate your participation. Maja, would you like to close?
>> MAJA ROMANO: Sure. Just a big round of thanks to all of our participants here and everybody for connecting with us. This is really a valuable meeting space. I think for all of us and for all of your voices to come together and we appreciate your time. I have reposted in the chat, the link to the full GISWatch report so you can download that online if you haven't taken a look yet and find all the reports in there. It's really great resource and we're looking forward to continuing this conversation with everybody. Thank you so much.