IGF 2023 WS #515 Empowering Youth to Make Sustainable Tech Choices


Sustainability & Environment
Existing and New Technologies as Climate Risks

Organizer 1: Shyam Krishnakumar, The Pranava Institute
Organizer 2: Dhanyashri Kamalakkanan, The Pranava Institute
Organizer 3: Titiksha Vashist, The Pranava Institute

Speaker 1: Titiksha Vashist, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Shyam Krishnakumar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Dhanyashri Kamalakkanan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Titiksha Vashist, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Dhanyashri Kamalakkanan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Titiksha Vashist, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Tutorial - 30 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How can the current mainstream education enhance learning at the intersection of technology and sustainability? How can conscious behaviour result from a shift from anthropocentrism to planetary future- led thinking?
B. How can new research work in areas of technology, sustainability, well being and heath be used to inform curriculums and learning at the school level?
C. How can young people come together to think and share what it means to grow, learn, explore, and live life online? How can schools, communities and neighbourhoods create space where the young can openly talk about digital experiences?

What will participants gain from attending this session? This workshop will use the Unboxing Tech Toolkit: The Materiality of the Smartphone( a project by The Pranava Institute). By the end of this session, participants will have the power to make better technology decisions and contribute to building the sustainable digital future we all dream of. The workshop will help unpack the following:
1. Where does your smartphone really come from? The complex global journey of the smartphone
2. Track your smartphone's journey on the world map, and uncover out the global distribution of mining, manufacturing and use.
3. Calculate your phone-economics- Time, attention, accessories, energy and mineral-use.
4. Designed to die: What happens when you dispose a phone? Why are smartphones so hard to repair?
5. Planetary futures: How can we make better decisions around the smartphone which work for us, and for the planet? How can we become better, conscientious tech consumers?

Project website: https://www.unboxingtech.pranavainstitute.com/


45% of the world’s internet users are below the age of 25. Young people are increasingly living their lives in the digital domain, as education, entertainment, social life and commerce become online, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the young becoming the largest group in the infosphere, it becomes crucial to empower them with skills to understand how technological devices impact planetary futures, and enable reflection which includes themselves, tech and the planet. This workshop will a multimedia toolkit to inform, enable reflection, and create strategies to enable a better human-tech relationship.

Smartphones may look like devices from the future, but a look at the complex material flows tells us how little we are told about their making and how deeply it is connected to our planet's future. The smartphone is created through a complex web of problematic supply chains, materials, and human labour. Are they at least designed to live long and prosper? Turns out not- manufacturers often plan obsolescence during manufacture in order to boost sales. This reduces the device's life, makes repairability and recycling difficult and increases the carbon footprint. This workshop will help participants deconstruct the single unified notion of a smartphone and understand- where the smartphone comes from, who all are involved in the making of it, what is it made up of, and finally, where does it go once it is disposed. This seeks to give a closer look at the global problem of e-waste, and see who pays the costs by using case studies and data driven activities. The final goal is to increase awareness and encourage more sustainable, conscious technology choices. This will meaningfully engage educators, civil society, government and parents globally. (This project was supported by SIDA, Tactical Tech in Berlin, and KAS in Singapore.)

Expected Outcomes

After the session, we seek to continually engage with the community by:
1. Providing an open source toolkit for the larger IGF community to adapt- this maybe useful for educators, researchers, government officials working on education and digitalisation, and the larger community.
2. Creating a shared workspace for the responsible technology and design community to come together and discuss ways to take this project forward, including in their own unique formats.
3. Opening calls for community interventions, comments, and translation efforts in resources into local languages so that they benefit youth across the globe
4. Integration and feedback for co-creation of future resources which are thematically similar, and are concrete efforts in creating responsible and sustainable technology. This will have a strong youth-lead focus.

We aim to create a community to fill the gap in novel thinking on technology, sustainability and educational resources.

Hybrid Format: 1) We will have one onsite moderator who will be incharge of conducting the workshop onsite along with participants in the room. The online moderator has the main task of maintaining the order of the raised hands and written chat, reading the questions, and giving the floor to online audience speakers. This will help engage both sets of audiences.

2. The session will use a toolkit which will be filled out online using Miro as a collaborative tool, engaging both online and offline audiences. The session includes a note-taker who will ensure that responses are recorded, and insights from the audience find space on the board.

3. The session will make use of Google Slides to introduce the toolkit and the project, Miro for conducting the workshop, and Zoom chat for coordination and information collection.