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IGF 2020 – Day 12 – Debating the Future of Global Environmental Data Governance in the Age of Uncertainty

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. 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 to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> KELSEY LEONARD: Hello, everyone, and thank you for having me and for hosting this panel.  I am from an indigenous location located on Long Island, New York.  I'm happy to be joining you.

>> MODERTOR: Thank you.

>> AMY LUERS: My name is Amy Luers, I'm the global lead for sustainability science at Microsoft where we're working to bring science, data and technology together to advance global sustainability.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Amy and finally Rose Mwebaza.

>> ROSE MWEBAZA: Good evening from the city of Copenhagen, Denmark.  It's part of the operation mechanism of the technology mechanism of the United Nations.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you all.  And now I'll ask each one of you to name the single most important issue or question concerning environmental governance, beginning in the same order, so starting with you, Joyce.

>> JOYCE MSUYA: I wanted to say how inspiring it has been to witness the emergence of environment in this IGF.  I want to thank the hundreds of stakeholders that pushed for this and made this possible.

What is one key issue from our perspective is data fragmentation.  Let me just cite some numbers.  There are approximately 700 different environmental data platforms in operation by a combination of public and private sector actors with a new platform launched every week.  More than 7,000 organizations provide earth observation data and there are more than 450 million resources discoverable and accessible.  We need a basic set of principles, standards, and safeguards for these platforms. This is something we here at UNEP are working very hard on and we have been asked by our member states, governments to develop a global environmental data strategy.

We also need an international repository to aggregate and validate the best available environmental data that can be used to monitor global progress, for example, the SDGs and multilateral environmental agreements.  We are building such a platform to achieve this, which is called the world environment situation room. Let me stop here, but that's one data fragmentation is a key issue.  Over to you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  Now moving to Joyce Murray.

>> JOYCE MURRAY: Data ownership. I almost hate to use that term because I think what we are looking for is data stewardship.  I think it's very important to identify what are the rules around the data and who is overseeing those rules because it will be generated, collected and used by both public and private organizations.  So there are various interests in using the data.

So the idea that we are collectively stewards of data for the common good, I think is very important.  And then accompanying that is the principle around compliance and enforcement.  I mean, you can have all the rules that make sense but if there are not clear mechanisms for compliance and enforcement, then there will be those who are going to exploit the situation and utilize that data for ends for which it was not intended.

I think there is ‑‑ there are underlying those principles are then a number of others.  One I would say is continuous improvements.  We have to recognize how quickly things are moving in the digital universe, and so we have to make sure that any structures or designs from the outset that they can be updated and respond to the situation.  So continuous improvement and digital principles built in by design, so that is things like user experience being very much at the heart of how this is structured because we can do everything that makes sense from a technical perspective, a design perspective, but if those who are using the data are not finding it easy and effective to use it, then it will not have its intended benefit in terms of managing and improving the human impact on our ecosystems.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joyce.  And now if we could move to Celina, please.

>> CELINA LEE: I have one that's specific to our experience.  I think that immediately the issues that came to mind for me about data governance was transparency, as a data science competition platform we come across all types of data, especially granular detailed data, the types of data sets we're working with.  We've seen many instances where data sets are out and available.  But if they aren't accompanied by proper documentation and transparency about where the data came from what do they represent, how was the data actually collected, and therefore, what are the limitations of the conclusions you can derive from these data sets ‑‑ so this transparency for me is one of the fundamental issues.

Second is a clear data standard, this is very much related to the transparency, but it means that if we adopt certain data sets and accept certain data sets they have to come along with a standard set of quality standards, interoperability of the data sets so people will know how to use them safely.  And on the point of responsibility, safeguarding data privacy and ensuring that individuals who are the source of the data are properly and appropriately recognized, properly and appropriately benefited by the outputs of the products of the data.

I think those three go together, and then the final one I wanted to mention from a data science perspective and the work that we do is finding the right balance between a robust default privacy standard, which, you know, a lot of times implies aggregating data and balancing that with creativity that can be unlocked by solution and by the data scientists that are able to unlock new products, concepts and insights from granular data.  Finding balance between the granular data and the aggregated data that protects privacy.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Celina.  Now we move to Kelsey.

>> KELSEY LEONARD: Thank you so much.  I really would second so much of what my other panelists have said in terms of data safeguarding and protections.  One of the things I noticed in my own science and research related to environmental data governance in the Great Lakes and related to the oceans is the absence of indigenous people.  Our governments are often excluded from the infrastructure and that's something we really have to remedy to ensure that we're not promulgating more colonialism in digital spaces.  What some scholars have called digital colonialism.

I'm seeing that the in the environmental data space and the way in which environmental data is governed.  There are amazing alliances who just put forward principles of indigenous data sovereignly which I think is a path forward for how we need to be thinking about environmental data governance.  What we're seeing is data is being mined from indigenous peoples and our lands, and it's said that 80% of the world's biodiversity, so scientists are eager and keen to learn from our lands and territories about that richness and about the way in which we have stewarded the lands for thousands of years and we're not then a part of the ownership and control of the data that's extracted from our territories and communities.

Then even further, how that data is used and manipulated to inform decision making going forward.  And so I think that that's a real challenge for us moving forward, how do we ensure indigenous rights are protected in the environmental data governance space.  I think that means that indigenous peoples have ownership and control over our data and the way in which it's used and there are prescriptions and principles outlined.  So thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Kelsey, that was great, thank you so much.  Now moving to Amy, please.

>> AMY LUERS: It's wonderful to hear these perspectives from different and importantly nuanced angles. To me the overarching governance challenge related to the digital world and environmental sustainability is embedded in the fact that today humanity is interconnected to each other through both the digital and natural worlds.

As a result, we fundamentally need to grasp, recognize that to achieve a trusted and inclusive internet is intertwined with a safe and sustainable world.  From this perspective, a key governance issue is building a trusted and secure internet.  So in trust, of course, these are rich worlds that have many dimensions. Trust is being challenged in the context of environmental issues around misinformation.  Having trust in the information about the trends and -- is critical.  There are a number of open data platforms that are gathering this data together and being able to have a trusted source of what those ‑‑ of the data that is available is critical.

The second point is inclusivity.  And it's critical not just in terms of what data is available to whom and who has the capacity to turn that data into knowledge.  Finally, security.  We need to make sure the data is secure, but again not just data security but security that everybody from different regions of the world feel safe and empowered to participate in the digital data for sustainability activities. These pieces together both from a data and the community that's using though datas is critical for achieving sustainability goals.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Amy.  And now, finally moving to Rose, please.

>> ROSE MWEBAZA: Thank you very much.  I think I want to focus on something that is related to the mandate of the climate technology center network, which is the facilitation of environmentally sound technologies.  One of the key issues that we find to be on critical importance in relation to this is the soundness of how this environment data itself is generated and stored and managed.  We all must agree that in fact the technologies that will enable us to access and to store this data and use it for environmental decision making are not necessarily sustainable.  I'll give you an example.

If you look at the amount of electronic waste that would come out of some of the tools that are used for data storage or access points, laptops and computers.  We're told we put 7 million tons of electronic waste out.  This is expected to grow because we have greater efficiency in production systems that makes these electronic devices cheap, it means more numbers of people have access to these resources.

So this is what we traditionally call the rebound effects, almost an unintended consequence of the development we attain as humans.  And so within the mandate of the climate technology center, which is to enable environmentalists sound transfer between nations this is of paramount importance.  Also because of a mandate is to support developing countries.  It's clear in the countries I work in, at least we have products in around 100 countries.  Actually, there's a huge global digital divide across the regions in the world that's in the countries in the regions.

I'll give you an example, I come from Africa so it's probably easier for me to do that.  The IFC has told me that 40% of all the people have access to digital technologies.  The number of women is even less.  So to go to the question one of the panelists met, data for who?  If we're going to support environmental decision making at all levels from the policy to the community level, who are accessors of this data?  Who has access to this data to make the decisions they need to make that becomes absolutely important?  I think those are the interconnected issues I want to talk about.  The sustainability of this environment but also the digital divide that means that actually contrary to what we think not everybody would be able to access the data and therefore the issue whose data and what decisions are made with it.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, would anybody like to reflect on any of the points that the panelists made?  Please unmute yourself if you would like to add anything.

>> JOYCE MURRAY: I've been so impressed by the ideas that have come up so far and I would say that inclusion and justice and indigenous perspectives is super important, as is diversity, women, and we're thinking inclusively as to who is going to be using and benefiting from this data.  I wanted to mention on the environmental sustainability decision.  There's a group of nations, it's ten countries that work together on advancing our digital transformation.  And the candidates put forward an initiative around environmental sustainability for the digital nations to be working on.

The opportunities for thinking about the equipment and the processes and operations and the waste management, green procurement and so on I think have to be woven into everything we do.  I was very glad to hear you talk, Rose, about environmental sustainability.  Canada's going to be pushing ‑‑ not pushing but leading the charge on that as part of the digital nation's agenda over the coming year.  So thanks for raising it.

>> MODERATOR: Amy?

>> AMY LUERS: I wanted to touch on the last point about the sustainability of the data generation and analysis that was raised.  I think that is a really critical issue.  And at Microsoft, we're taking that very seriously.  We’ve committed to ‑‑ we're already carbon neutral and we're committed to becoming net negative by the end of the decade, as well as zero waste, net positive on water and land.

So integrating the use of how we integrate science and data for solving problems, as well as making sure that we clean up our own corporate footprint and help others is a key part of our efforts.  I think we need to think of those as a continuum, not separate issues.  But as an integrated piece.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Now moving on, what are the two ‑‑ one or two key principles or safeguards you would like to propose as part of a global governance framework?

>> JOYCE MSUYA: Thank you.  First, it's important to recognize that environmental data exists in a digital ecosystem and that we need to structure data and analytics to achieve specific outcomes and support specific decisions.  A number of panelists in the previous section talked about it.

Thinking about environmental data for a purpose.  In our case within the united nations for example, we would encourage looking at the structure of a digital ecosystem of environmental data to be able to monitor global commitments.  For example, the STGs, but also the multilateral environmental targets.  But equally if not more important, use the data to inform and shape policy options to inform markets, supply chains and consumer behaviors.

If you look at things like sustainability production and consumption, unless we have the data the consumer's behavior would not shift.  Second is standards, international standards are needed to ensure that environmental data can be aggregated at the global level and can be interoperable with other environmental data such as the socio economic data through the use of standardized application programming interfaces. So we need an API for the framework. 

Lastly, environmental data sets should be as open as possible looking at data as global public good.  I think Minister Joyce from Canada alluded to this.  And as agile as possible because context for the data matters, so depending on specific use cases and potential risks, the environmental data governance should adopt an agile approach that favors experimentation, iteration, differentiation and adaptation as needed, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joyce.  Can I just ask our audience if they have any questions then please do write them in the chat on the right‑hand side of your screen.  Hopefully we'll have time to take a few questions later.

Now if I could ask Joyce Murray to add to the safeguarding debate.

>> JOYCE MURRAY: That's a pretty critical element to be thinking in advance and I think it's not ‑‑ I mean, right from the beginning those kinds of principles need to be factors into the design.  It seems very complicated to me after just coming out of a briefing on the government of Canada's plans to improve our data manage and multifactor authentication so we can have a single sign in for various government of Canada programs.  I see the complexities of that just in one country.  I think it's critical that the kind of access the authentication, multifactor authentication for people utilizing this data having access to it because there may be personal data, there certainly is commercially valuable data.  And there also will be data that as was mentioned ‑‑ I think it was Celina talking about ‑‑ sorry, it was Kelsey talking about indigenous owned data.

As we have the theme of data stewardship, we also need to understand the indigenous perspective and ownership of their data.  So that's just ‑‑ I mean, that's a lot of stream of consciousness there.  I understand there is international human rights law and U.N. guiding principles on business and human rights that talk about ‑‑ for example, artificial intelligence.  Let's not reinvent the wheel.  Let's find best practices in terms of the use of machine learning and the use of data access and authentication and make sure those things are built in from the very beginning of this project because it will be much harder to change it later on and adjust for that.

I think the other thing we have to think about is, is there anything that could create national or regional security risks and how is that data treated separately or not.  How is that addressed?  We're going to need a range of formal and informal agreements that should be ‑‑ should lay out in a transparent way how this is being set up and how it's being governed and how it's being complied with.  Openness and transparency I know has already been mentioned by other panelists, but that is a core principle. At the same time we have to think about confidentiality and authentication, we also need the realm of openness and transparency to be a founding principle of what we're doing here.  A few thoughts.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joyce, and now moving to Celina, please.

>> CELINA LEE: Thank you.  I agree with all of the other panelists are saying.  I want to add a bit from our perspective at Zindi, working with data scientists and working with companies and governments that have very specific problems that they're solving.  One of the things I wanted to highlight is in order for data to live up to its promise ‑‑ we can talk about data in high‑level terms and big terms.  But in order for data to be translated into the impact that we want to see, we have to ensure that we are also understanding the entire value chain and the market that drives data and drives data from turning into just data into actual insights or products.

And so at Zindi we ran a competition recently where we used sentinel 5P data to extrapolate air quality across Africa.  A place where a continent where if you look at the data that's available on air quality, it is extremely sparse.  I think we found a couple of sensor data sets from South Africa and maybe Kenya, but the rest of the world was covered with air censors and constant real‑time data that was constantly being uploaded onto the internet and freely available to everybody.

One of the questions we asked was how can we fill in the data gap?  We used 5P data to develop machine learning models.  Our scientists build the models and now it's being hosted on the South African Earth Observation Network.  To understand how the data is collected, who gets access to the data so they can analyze it and turn it into actual insight and then who ends up hosting the data product at the end are all questions we have to address and acknowledge as important.

What I want to point out here is underlying what everyone is saying about inclusivity and representation, this is where representation matters.  That we understand the entire value chain and representation has to insert itself in every single step of the way as we look at the data value chain. So yeah, I wanted to highlight accessibility of the raw data itself.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Celina, now Kelsey, please.

>> KELSEY LEONARD: Wonderful.  Thank you.  Thank you again to the panelists for this robust conversation.  I would say that in terms of safeguards and principles, we need environmental data for justice and equitable outcomes, and what does that mean in the space that I work in particularly for indigenous peoples is we need disaggregated data that actually measures environmental indicators for indigenous communities and our nations.  Right now, you can go to any of the major environmental data sets and we're absent.  We can have aggregated data based on sometimes potentially race and ethnicity but mostly in at a national level or subnational level data.  And we are just sort of marginalized from the collection.  If we're not counted how can you matter in decision making. Also, when we think about data accessibility how can our government and leaders use data accessibly to be informed decision makers.  That's a real big issue that we have to come to terms with and think through sustainability solutions for the environmental data ecosystem, in particular because our communities, indigenous communities are on the front lines of the climate crisis.  What is the important of environmental data right now in our human history?  It's to hopefully tackling this emerging crisis that our world is facing.  For indigenous people being on the front lines, we need access to data that is meaningful and that counts our people.  That's a really big safeguard and principle that I hope we could build into a future ecosystem.

In addition, one of the things I wanted to outline before I bring a path forward that other scholars have created is the way in which English, the English language is monopolizing our data infrastructure and ecosystem right now and how that disenfranchised indigenous languages.  We right now are seeing indigenous languages around the world ‑‑ 2019 was the U.N.'s year for indigenous languages.  We're seeing the loss of those languages, the languages go dormant because they're being forced out of operation, out of use, out of consideration and care. I think when you think through data governance, because so much of our environmental knowledge is captured in our indigenous knowledge systems and languages, we need to create data ecosystems that uplift those languages in their structure and in their creation and design from the outset as others have said earlier.

So the Global Indigenous Data Alliance has put together the care principles for enacting indigenous data sovereignty for indigenous data.  Those stand for collective benefit, that data ecosystems should be functioned that support indigenous people's rights.  That we have the authority to control those data sets that are coming from our communities.  And also, the responsibility of other data scientists, those working with data, about indigenous people and coming from our territories to share how that data is being used to support indigenous self‑determination.  Lastly, ethics, we have to be good human beings on this planet.  And part of that is also the way in which we use and design data systems.  Hopefully they'll respect indigenous rights in upholding those ethics, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Kelsey.  Questions can be moved on either in the chat or in the Q&A function.  And you'll find that under the more button at the bottom of the screen.

Now if I could ask Amy her thoughts on safeguarding, please.

>> AMY LUERS: Great.  You know, I think some of the principles that ‑‑ the number of principles to think about, I guess one of the ones I wanted to highlight is the need to really recognize ‑‑ to focus in on essential sustainability data that needs to be available.  We're in the information age where we're flooded by data and that's been highlighted for sure.  But there are critical information that we don't have but that we could have if we focused on.  For example, in terms of our biodiversity there's a lot of information that isn't available but if we focus in on that we could make decisions in a much better way.

So recognizing that we need to agree what are those essential data for managing the systems?  These are one of the things we're doing here at Microsoft in the context of building a planetary computer.  Trying to identify those data sets so we can make them available to everyone who is working on conservation efforts around the world.  What are those key variables is taking a multistakeholder approach?  This is where these kinds of forums are valuable to bring together government and private sectors, civil society to identify what those are regionally and sectorially.

A piece of that is the essential variables aren't ‑‑ data sets aren't valuable unless they're accessible and open to the diversity of actors engaged in what is a multistakeholder, multisectorial participation in environmental governance.  And honing in together in deciding what are the key variables, making sure we actively go out and assure we have validated access to the data so we can make decisions I think is a core principle that we need to move forward with and ‑‑ if we're going to be able to know that we're managing this correctly and make decisions wisely.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, and now finally to Rose.

>> ROSE MWEBAZA: Thank you.  I think the panelists have raised really important information and just the last speaker highlighting the importance of, you know, what is the essential data we have from my point of view climate data is important to create resilience in the more vulnerable communities as well as other categories of data.  I think it's really important at this point in time where there's a whole range of data that is available.  The environmental data that we focus on that it is the kind of data that supports the decision making that is good for nature and for people ultimately.  So that's the way I would put it.

The whole issue of leaving no one behind, so if it's data that creates resilience or better livelihoods or protect people's information on air quality, that's data that's important.  It's good for nature and it's good for people.  So leaving no one behind and creating data we need.

Lastly, the one I think as a community that we could work with is the large body of work we already have an environment reviewing data and making sure it's aligned to this new huge digital agenda to make sure it's environmentally sustainable and that we do not have to deal with the unintended consequences of what it is that we're trying to do.  I think that system is at a point where it has to extend beyond the nontraditional areas where we've been looking at an important issue of environmental sustainability.  So really those are the two key issues that I would like to highlight at this point in terms safeguards.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Rose.  Now, moving to the questions from our audience, we have one from Monica Emmett.  She asks, there were several mentions of the need for standards for environmental data.  Who shall develop these standards?  The floor is open.  Would anyone like to comment on that?

>> JOYCE MURRAY: I don't have a specific answer to that question, but what I was wanting to bring into the conversation to add to the idea of essential and critical data for the solutions add to the whole data chain idea which I think is so important and the disaggregated data for social justice purposes.

What is the role of governments?  I mean, maybe it was ‑‑ I'm not sure who mentioned that this is government civil society, indigenous peoples, it's business, it's stakeholders.  But government can play a very productive role if we're thinking about governments right from the beginning.  Because there is a tremendous capacity there to facilitate or to undermine, I suppose.  So what occurs to me is that there are organizations that bring governments together, not that we want to have something big and cumbersome and hard to get agreements, but something like the open government partnership is a group of 78 countries.  It's been meeting for 11 years, represents over 2 billion people and it's all about the partnership between civil society and government in having really an open approach and principles to the use of data but also to the engagement of people with their governments. So let's find some ways in which government can be built in without it slowing down or, you know, creating a lot of bureaucracy I suppose.  But bringing them on board to this initiative early on.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Amy, I believe you want to add to this conversation.

>> AMY LUERS: Thank you.  I wanted to stress again, as was said earlier, that, you know, the answer to who sets the standards does have to be a multistakeholder approach.  There is a critical role for government for sure, which it has a different character than the other players and thinking that through is certainly critical.

What I wanted to highlight there are standards in two different pieces.  One is what data is available ‑‑ you know, what are the essential variable and how do we decide that and that has to be multistakeholder.  How, you know, it's safeguarded and open and so forth and interoperable.  I think there's another component that's critical as well especially when we're talking about environmental data.  That's the verification, you know, what is the essential ‑‑ what is the data in which we make our decisions in terms of global environmental issues?

We have a process for this in terms of scientific information.  We have a peer review process to say these are the ‑‑ looking at the insights that are drawn for data.  I don't think we've tackled that in a way that is going to suffice that is going to really draw from the data that what we can ‑‑ if we don't tackle this issue of what is the trusted data in terms of the science?

There is an emergence of looking at large datas and looking at trends and making predictions which is a huge asset in terms of how we manage in near real time these challenges coming in front of us.  How do we connect that with the scientific community that understands natural and social systems from a process point of view?  That is a challenge in front of us that is also a huge opportunity but is one that we haven't grappled with.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Amy, would anyone else like to answer Monica's question?  No?  Can I ask the panel for one voluntary commitment you'll undertake in 2021 to take forward the themes discussed in the panel today, starting, again, with Joyce Msuya, please.

>> JOYCE MSUYA: Thank you.  So I'm going to give you one external.  External because we have to be nimble.  We commit to engage and potentially co-lead with the IGF process.  Not just IGF but any other stakeholders that may be interested.

Internally we're committed to contributing to our Secretary General's road map and co-lead an action plan on digitalizing environmental sustainability.  That entails working with other U.N. entities that work in the environment space.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joyce.  Now to Joyce Murray, please.

>> JOYCE MURRAY: Thanks.  I think my previous intervention may have ‑‑ when ‑‑ who should make the decisions.  I started talking about government.  I think clearly the multistakeholder approach is the right one, so I just wanted to make sure that that didn't come across as I want government to take this over.

A commitment. One commitment I have made recently is as the outgoing chair of digital nations was to put it in front of the group and have it accepted that digital nations would have an environmental sustainability theme and so we'll continue over the coming year to promote and seek allies for this initiative in the lead up to the U.N. climate change conference and see if there is interest from other countries.  That's a digital nations initiative.

There's also ‑‑ I just talked about the open government partnership.  I think there's a possibility we could get commitment in the fifth national action plan on open government that we are working with civil society to produce that we could implement an open data, an open science specifically to help fight the climate change as one part of our Indonesia action plan.  This would, of course, include annual public open data reporting on the environmental footprint of federal operations which is being done through our center for green in government.

I can't commit to this national action plan element because we do it in partnership with civil society.  We're in those discussions and consultations now but that's something I'm personally very interested in doing and that would be then part of the broader open government partnership discussion and commitments.  As I mentioned, that's quite a number of countries that could then start to be connected in with this initiative that you've put on the table today.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joyce, now Celina, please.

>> CELINA LEE: Thank you.  From Zindi's perspective we're driven by the mission to make AI and data science more accessible for everyone, to serve everyone regardless of race, gender, even geography.  So our goal is to create opportunities for young people to continue to upskill in the area of AI, machine learning and data science and through our platform also help make some of these valuable data sets more accessible and more public for real impact on the ground.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  And I'll invite Kelsey now.

>> KELSEY LEONARD: My commitment is a commitment I'd ask of my panelists is to familiarize yourself from the care principles I mentioned as well as united nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.  If you've never read it, I think it's a pivotal document for you to read and to use as a framing guidance for developing standards that should be guiding data moving forward.  It's my call of action to each of you to hopefully take these two principle documents and see what you can do with them in your own individual data ecosystem and hope that that will move the needle forward.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Kelsey.  Now, Amy, please.

>> AMY LUERS: can you hear me?  Well, first I want to say sort of a personal commitment and I think coming from this panel it's been a great discussion.  I'll reflect on the various different angles this panel has brought.  I want to thank you for sharing those.

From a Microsoft perspective, there are two commitments.  One is to become a net positive for the environment in the context of our footprint and our role in the global economy.  More broadly, though, to work with partners to make sure that we can identify the essential variables, make those available in what we're developing in terms of the planetary computer, but within context of these discussions. We want to engage in the dialogue and best practices that the forum is developing and integrate those and empower others, everyone to do more with sustainability data to achieve our sustainability goals.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Now finally to Rose, please.

>> ROSE MWEBAZA: Thank you very much.  The commitment I will make within our mandate, which is promoting environmentally sound technology.  Really, the commitment I can make is that in this context to focus on some of the two issues that would have the most significant environmental impacts which would be the amount of energy that required to drive this agenda and the digitization.  So the technologies that would promote deficiencies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also to work with the member states, you know, that give us this mandate and electronic waste which is growing and potentially becoming a global challenge.

This would include, you know, as we promote this in countries, creating awareness, the dialogues and conversations we need to have where the different stakeholders engage and make those decisions so that we are taking them with the agree of ethical understanding of what their consequences are and why it would need to make decisions that promote sustainability.  I think those are the commitments I would make. Then, of course, the ‑‑ dealing with the digital divide we have, promoting this to developing countries.  Celina was talking about the actual data gaps we need for sound decision making, thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Right, thank you for completing that section.  And we've had a fascinating and thought-provoking exchange of ideas.  I want to thank the panelists for what they're developing on this topic.  The IGF and U.N. have pushed this issue to the top of the agenda, and now the U.N. is considering making digitalization of environmental sustainability a four‑year priority.  The media, too, needs to report more on the environmental data and the implication of using it sensibly.  Please do contact me at Digital Planet about this.

As we have heard on the panel today, every scientific assessment is giving us ten years left to solve climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.  Living as we have been living, and doing business as usually is clearly not working.  And we need to find ways to make exponential progress in these three areas.  Digital transformation is going to play a massive role if it can be harnessed for environmental sustainability.

The stakeholders need to establish together how environmental data and metrics can be hard code into application platforms, filters, and algorithms to fundamentally change the incentive structures for sustainability.  If we are to see any benefit to our environment, working together with environmental data could decarbonalize and detoxify the global supply chain.  Together we can take collective action on environmental digital cooperation and commit to concrete action with the support of the IGF and UNEP.  Thank you to everyone on the panel today and those behind the scenes, translators, and scribes as well who have made all of this happen.  I hope to come back next year to hear about the tangible progress that has been made.  Thank you.

 

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