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IGF 2018 DC Internet Rights and Principles: Sustainable Futures: The Internet, Human Rights, and Environmental Issues

DC: 

Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition

Round Table - 90 Min

Subtheme: 

Other
Sub-theme description: Emerging Technologies

Description: 

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.

Relevance to the IGF

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. These concerns are also integral to the future of digital/smart city developments that aim to include human rights and principles as integral to decisions where internet design, access, and use are linked to the built environment, and implications for natural resources and rural areas. 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. 

Objectives. 

The main objective is to develop a new agenda for internet governance that engages directly with the internet's environmental impact, by bringing together stakeholders working on addressing issues around climate change on the one hand. On the other handm to listen to those working on those environmental issues related directly to computing, digital and other emerging technologies that are dependent on the internet's physical and software architectures. 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 

Policy Questions: Outcomes and Interventions

Questions that this meeting will address include, but are not restricted to:

  1. Which human rights are directly affected by the environmental hazards of internet equipment manufacture and expanding dependencies on server/data storage facilities?
  2. How can the digitalization and networking of the urban environment, such as digital/smart cities projects, take into account the principles, and practice of “human rights by design”?
  3. How can global, and national internet policymaking agendas better respond to existing and future environmental issues arising from connecting the Sustainable Development Goals with those aiming to “Connect the next billion”?
  4. In which specific areas - of public concern, geography, or internet design – can different stakeholders generate working relationships for sustainable, rights-based internet futures?
Organizers: 

Marianne Franklin - IRPC Co-Chair, Academic

Minda Moreira - IRPC Co-Chair, Civil Society

Speakers: 

Deepti Bharthur, ITforChange, India - CS

Aik van Eemeren/Roel Raterink - Digital City Coalition (Amsterdam, New York, Barcelona) - Governmental

Marianne Franklin, co-Chair IRPC – Civil Society/Academic

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito, Article 19/Youth Dynamic Coalition - CS

Pua Hunter, Cook Islands Government – Governmental

Maureen Hilyard, Cook Islands Internet Action Group - CS

Meghan McDermott, Mozilla Foundation - Technical Community

Michael Oghia – Youth DC - CS

Jim Puckett - Basel Action Network - CS

 

Moderator: Minda Moreira, Co-Chair IRPC

Rapporteur: Hanane Boujemi

 

Presentation: 
Report: 

Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.)

Open Forum/Mic

 

Title:
DC Internet Rights and Principles: Sustainable Futures: The Internet, Human Rights, and Environmental Issues

Date & Time:

Monday 12 November, 11.20am

- Organizer(s):

Marianne Franklin - IRPC Co-Chair, Academic

Minda Moreira - IRPC Co-Chair, Civil Society

- Chair/Moderator: Marianne Franklin - IRPC Co-Chair, Academic and Minda Moreira - IRPC Co-Chair, Civil Society

- Rapporteur/Notetaker:

Hanane Boujemi

 

List of speakers and their institutional affiliations:

Deepti Bharthur, ITforChange, India - CS

Maureen Hilyard, Cook Islands Internet Action Group - female, CS

Michael Oghia – Youth DC - male, CS

Roel Raterink - Digital City Coalition (Amsterdam, New York, Barcelona) - male, Governmental

Theme :

Human Rights, Gender & Youth

Subtheme :

Emerging Technologies

Three (3) key messages of the discussion

  • 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.

 

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. 

Data gathering and cross-border information-sharing are increasingly central to international consensus- building around climate change. The session discussed the specific factors that contribute to global warming and local environmental degradation linked to the digital expansion and the mass data generated by the sharing economy. 

The workshop was moderated by Ms Minda Moreira, co-Chair Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition and Ms Marianne Franklin Professor of Global Media and Politics Convener: Global Media & Transnational Communications Program.

Ms Deepti Bharthur, ITforChange , Senior researcher Associate. 

The intersection of technology and research undertaking in several countries: project looking at the rise of digital platforms and digital economy

Bharthur discussed

- the myth about digital economy where everything should be shared or owned by everyone, which results in dire consequences on the environment. The platform economy requires deep thinking about the impact on environment.

- Policy gaps: social protections in the global south are poor

- Data frameworks are caught up in the concept of free idea flows without prioritising local heritage

Mr Michael Oghia, Internet Governance Global forum for Media Development and representative of the Dynamic Coalition on Youth. 

Oghia noted that it is challenging to address sustainability issues in the context of the IGF because the policy discourse focuses on a different array of issues that do not link to the environment, energy or climate change.

Most of these issues link to the SDGs, even though there is no distinctive link to promoting sustainable energy and infrastructure. A clear plan should be in place to address the impact of data production namely high definition videos or ( on the environment. Taking a close look at the material used and focus on having a collaborative environment where all the concerned  stakeholders are willing  to recognise the issue in question 

Ms Maureen Hilyard, Cook Islands

Hilyard pointed out that countries with small population have limited income which affects their ability to integrate the digital economy. However, they rely heavily on tourism which impacts the environment. A sustainable future is a perquisite to protect the environment 

 

The last speaker, Mr Roel Raternik, International advisor City of Amsterdam  spoke about promoting principles at the level of cities to protect digital rights which sets standards that protect communities. They invest in projects to limit the impact of data centres using innovative ideas to use the heat produced for heating or cooling. They also focus on procurement by providing a set of standards buying digital equipment at the level of city councils. They recognise the importance of the internet, but they also believe that citizen’s digital should be a priority to address the impact on the environment.

 

The discussion attempted to establish a link between digital human rights and the environment. A suggestion was made to draw a constitution in every country to protect the environment in the digital age.

The right to a future should be a priority to ensure a quality of life to future generations where the environment is not contaminated by industrial waste generated by digital economy. More efforts should be deployed is the Internet Governance community to do more work in order to deal with this issue holistically taking into account the importance of protecting human rights.

There is tension between sustainable development and the race to digitalise communities. It is important to have principles for the social economy to thrive at the local level or smaller scale to strengthen the local space. For this to happen the policies implemented ought to be scaled down to reflect the need to instil values that take into account the environmental sustainability.

One of the important questions the session addressed was how to shift the environment burden from the Internet as a tool for development. The private should be social inclusive and think about environmental sustainability by design. The key is to get data policy framework right and how to build context appropriate policies and to integrate sustainability into the design of network and product chains to ensure the  protection of the environment  

 

- Please estimate the total number of participants. 

Around 40

- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

 

  • To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]
Session Time: 
Monday, 12 November, 2018 - 11:20 to 12:20
Room: 
Salle XII

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