IGF 2021 Launch / Award Event #28 Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2020 IGF launch: Technology, the environment and a sustainable world

Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (09:45 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (10:45 UTC)
Hall A3

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)


The speakers will include a panel from the GISWatch community and representatives from public and private sectors, including Jennifer Radloff (APC), Arun (SPACE Kerala), Michelle Thorne (Mozilla Foundation), Maarten de Waard (Greenhost). GISWatch editor Alan Finlay will facilitate the session, with introductory comments by Valeria Betancourt, Manager of APC's Communications and Information Policy Programme, responsible for the publication of GISWatch.

For more information, please see https://www.giswatch.org/2020-technology-environment-and-sustainable-world-responses-global-south

Jennifer Radloff works in the APC Women's Rights Programme, providing leadership and strategic direction for the capacity building strategy (Feminist Tech Exchange) and related activities. She leads the work on developing a feminist principle on environmental justice and represents APC on the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRDIC).

Sarbani Banerjee Belur represents Association for Progressive Communications as the Asia Regional Coordinator. She is also affiliated to the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India. Her work focuses on enabling internet connectivity to remote rural areas which are unserved and unreached by seeding community networks to grow, utilisation of the connectivity in day to day lives of people in these areas, developing sustainable business models and multistakeholder partnerships for connectivity to thrive and grow in the last mile.

Arun M is a free software activist and a founding member of Free Software Foundation of India (FSF, India). Arun played a key role in pushing state of Kerala towards free software. He was also closely involved in the migration of major public sector institutions like the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Kerala State Spatial Data Infrastructure to free software. He holds a graduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Kerala University and M Phil in Applied Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University. His academic work is in the field of innovation and technological change. In technology he focuses on GeoSpatial Information and Open Data.

Maarten de Waard is a software developer at Greenhost, a web hosting company that tries to make all the right decisions regarding their environmental impact, as well as data privacy and human rights in general. Maarten works on Stackspin, an online office suite that can be self-hosted on Greenhost's sustainable servers.

Michelle Thorne (@thornet) is interested in climate justice and a fossil-free internet. As a Sustainable Internet Lead at the Mozilla Foundation, Michelle directs research initiatives in Mozilla’s Sustainability Program and a PhD program on Open Design of Trust Things (OpenDoTT) with Northumbria University. She is a senior advisor to the Green Web Foundation and its Green Web Fellowship program and a co-organizer of Open Climate. Michelle publishes Branch, an online magazine written by and for people who dream about a sustainable internet and recipient of the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity.

Narmine Abou Bakari is the Digital Rights Campaigner with the Greens (European Free Alliance) EFA group at the European parliament.

Onsite Moderator
Online Moderator

Alan Finlay


Maja Romano


The format will be a dialogue between GISWatch editor Alan Finlay and a small panel of authors, specifically responding to questions based on their reports and addressing thematic elements. There will also be a question and answer period during which all authors will be able to engage in a discussion with each other and the public, answering questions about their reports and focusing specifically on the “Action Steps” and key recommendations noted in each chapter.

Duration (minutes)



In April 2021, APC launched of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2020 entitled, "Technology, the environment and a sustainable world: Responses from the global South". This groundbreaking edition contains 46 country and regional reports along with a powerful series of thematic reports that explore the constructive role that technology can play in confronting environmental and climate crises and disrupts the normative understanding of technology being an easy panacea to the planet’s environmental challenges.

From lithium extraction in Latin America to telecommunications among Indigenous communities in the Amazon, from artificial intelligence for curbing illegal poaching and animal trade in Uganda to the potential of community networks to create a more just and sustainable world – this innovative research takes readers around the globe looking at the role of technology in the fight for climate justice.

Facilitated by GISWatch editor Alan Finlay, this session will discuss the contents of GISWatch through a series of questions presented to a panel of speakers from the GISWatch community. Responses will then be heard from representatives of public and private sectors. A Q&A will wrap up the session, where all participants and guests are invited to engage with the speakers and respondents.

The session aims to provide an overview of the diverse challenges related to the intersection between digital technologies and environmental sustainability and will present action steps from an internet governance and internet policies point of view.

For more information on this edition, please visit https://www.giswatch.org/2020-technology-environment-and-sustainable-world-responses-global-south

This event links directly to the IGF2021 issue area on Environmental sustainability and climate change.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The burden of environmental destruction and pollution falls disproportionately on communities that experience discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Continue the work of the Policy Network on environmental sustainability.

IGF should build on the achievements of the Policy Network of Environment.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Our analysis of the way in which environmental sustainability and digital technologies intersects is illustrative of the complexity of the challenges and issues, and how much they are entangled in global capitalism, including the emerging forms of capitalism such as surveillance capitalism, which replicate the same patterns of the previous and current one: the exploitation of extractivism and consumerism. It is not really possible to see the full picture of the impact of digital technologies on our planet, and it seems that it may be an intentional result of the global capitalist system. However, the thematic and country reports in the 2020 edition of GISWatch and the broader research that APC is conducting in this area provide an updated overview of the current and future challenges and the suitable responses to address them, particularly acknowledging that burden of environmental destruction and pollution falls disproportionately on communities that experience discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion.

IGF can guide the operationalisation of policy recommendations in contextualised ways and in that sense the IGF can play a key role in breaking down the high level recommendations into actionable steps at national and local levels and complement bottom-up approaches to sustainability.