IT_Env_discussion_paper5 by niusheng11


									Association for Progressive Communications
BlueLink Information Network

IT for Environmental Sustainability (ITES)
Discussion Paper

Your feedback is invited and very appreciated. Please, fill in the feedback fields marked with blue
provided within the document. That would make our job working with it much easier  Thanks for your
time and input.
Once you have read through, please come back up here and tell us:
are you interested in joining a working group to develop the proposal further?
do you have any general comments to the entire ITES concept and process?
Please, type your name, email and organisation here:

This Discussion Paper

This paper aims to serve as a basis for further discussion over further development of ICT for
Environmental Sustainability within and outside the Association for Progressive Communications
(APC). The paper synthesises the outcome from discussions within the on the potential of information
and communication technologies for achieving environmental sustainability. It describes the need for
active civil society involvement in enhancing the use of information technologies (ITs) for
environmental sustainability and outlines areas of possible policy action and activities. The document
is based on two APC member and staff working group discussions at the APC Council meeting hosted
by BlueLink in Bulgaria, October 2005, an internal survey among APC members and input collected
during the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, November 2005.

Defining Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability (ITES)

Based on the outcomes from the discussions and the survey within APC, and discussions with other
organisations at WSIS, a conclusion could be drawn that the use of ITs for environmental
sustainability (ITES) could be looked upon as defined area of civil society action. For the purpose of
this discussion paper ITES is defined to cover all activities, policies and tools used by civil society to
achieve environmental sustainability.

Your comments on this definition:

Why should civil society use ITs to achieve environmental sustainability?

The potential and role of ITs for achieving environmentally sustainable development is as serious as
for achieving gender equality, human rights or other key issues addressed by civil society world wide,
concluded a working group of APC staff and members in October 2005. Environmental sustainability is
particularly important for the global South. The group identified the following major problems that
require active use of ITs by civil society:

   Lack of information on vital environmental and health issues in the global South. A big knowledge
    and information gap exists between South and North; East/ West in the field of environment and
    health protection. Due to the insufficient flow or lack of information communities and entire
    societies in the South are prevented from learning about the state, availability, exhaustion and
    safety of environmental resources, available solutions and good practices. This puts at risk the
    existence, well being and health of people.

Quote: Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria would greatly benefit from information on global treaties,
especially those to which governments have signed. This information would help enable this

organization (as well as many others in Nigeria) to set up a score sheet on government performances
and achievements.

   Lack of awareness among developed societies of their own impacts on health and environment in
    the global South. Disposing of toxic and radioactive waste, including the so called E-waste
    generated by the IT industry itself, depleting natural resources, uprooting and impoverishing
    communities are some of the side effects of the comfort and well being enjoyed by societies in the
    developed countries. Due to insufficient information supply citizens in the developed world are
    unaware of the pressure of their higher standard and consumption-based lifestyles on the rest of
    the planet. This prevents them for realizing their responsibility and acting responsively to diminish
    this pressure.

   Communities in the global South lack skills and technology to access the available information. A
    number of economic, political and social factors prevent citizens of developing countries from
    acquiring the knowledge and skills to access even the already available information resources.
    Lack of access to proper equipment, technologies and infrastructure contributes to the problem.

Quote: November 2005 survey among APC members: Greater use and of ITs could greatly improve
access to information, dissemination, networking and the exchange of ideas in the field of
environment, the survey pointed out. Accessibility remains a major obstacle to the use of ITs: “ITs
[are] only important and needed for those who understand their importance and those who can
access them,” a Cambodian survey respondent said.

Is anything important missing? Please, add here any additional thoughts or reasons why civil society
needs to use ICTs:

ITES possible actions

Below is a list of possible actions that civil society could take for improved use of ITs for
environmental sustainability:

    1. Mapping of environmental policies that require/rely on the proper use of ITs, good practices
        of IT uses for environmental sustainability.
    2. Making these and other useful resources available to civil society via specialized
        IT/Environment portal(s).
    3. Using the portal and other IT tools for dynamic exchange of know-how and experience among
        civil society.
    4. Mapping and indexing GIS and GPS related projects / applications that contribute for
        environmental sustainability and work on their compatibility and interlinkages.
    5. Empowering civil society to use and access ITs for environmental sustainability purposes by
        various means used in other thematic fields of action.
    6. Provide civil society with information about available IT tools for access to information on
    7. Guidance and user support for the use of ITs for environmental sustainability.
    8. Policy work on global level – promotion of instruments like the UNECE Aarhus Convention on
        access to information, public participation and justice on environmental matters that regulate
        the use of ITs by governments.
    9. Integration of environmental sustainability into other policy instruments regulating the use of
        ITs, including the use of environmentally friendly materials and technologies in IT industries.
    10. Special efforts to help the development and implementation of policies that regulate e-waste
        and prevent disposal in developing countries.
    11. Collecting and streamlining the information of various organisations dealing with ITs for
        environmental sustainability.

    12. Preparation and dissemination of information materials, such as fact sheet(s), brochure(s),
        short educational videos, etc.

Quote: According to the Foundation for Media Alternatives in the Philippines “civil society will require
information on the uses of ITES, such as orientation papers, a glossary, and basic data and modules”.
IGC, US, pointed out that organizations willing to use ITs for environmental sustainability would need
access to simple GIS tools for presenting professional looking maps but using their own data. It would
be very valuable for these organizations to be aware of current legislation on ITs for ES for future
policy developments.

Following good practices in other thematic areas of IT use, like gender equality, women rights, equal
access, freedom of expression, has been identified by the discussion groups as a good strategy for
moving ahead with the ITs for environmental sustainability work.

Please, suggest other possible ITES actions, or comment here:

ITES portal

The portal should serve as a one-stop reference point for civil society ITES information and resources.
The primary users of the ITES portal will be civil society organisations and concerned individuals. The
portal should be easily understood and navigated by various user groups, including: environmental
activists (both novice and expert), indigenous, community, human rights, gender or other activists,
governments and policy makers, IT activists, responsible business, the mass media, international
organisations and interested individuals.

Based on APC’s successful expecience with development of national ICTpolicy portals, the ITES portal
would build upon three major elements:
   1. original content generation;
   2. moilisation of content partners - i.e., organisations who we would wish at some point, to
       become active partners in content contribution; and
   3. content sharing – based upon logical information flows with the existing network of ICT policy

The portal would also provide a platform for mobilisation of action around this issue area. Naturally,
the portal would destyl content from the other ITES action areas, listed above.

The portal’s information architecture will be designed as a result of a consultative collective process.
Such process could also contribute to the identification of content partners in a systematic way.

Possible sections and functionality components to the portal could include:
     ITES news exchange – announcements, postings, exchanged between various users and
        organisations. An edited news section could be maintained based on the exchange.
     ITES resources pool – useful information and existing resources could be presented in
        categories, e.g. legislation, tools, success cases, problems
     ITES contacts database of organisations and projects dealing with ITES, forums,
     ITES links – a collection of pointers to where certain classes of data are found
     ITES community tools – these would include lists, wiki, other networking tools, to be used by
        civil society IT activists willing to work on environmental sustainability.
     ITES Beginner’s Section - designed to give the basics of the issues.

Your thoughts on the portal and ideas on the structure and further work? We also need suggestions
for communication partners and already existing resources that you know of?

ITES Networking: User Communities and Potential Partnerships

Locating resources and networking is a fundamental part of drawing greater attention to the
importance of ITES. Some of the APC survey respondents identified general potential user
communities and partners, such as local environmental organizations, industry, and IT schools and/or

As of yet, many of the respondents are unsure of which specific organizations and user communities
would have an interest in ITES or becoming partners. However, the case for this may simply be a
matter of a general focus on more pressing environmental problems within a country.

Quote: Open Forum, Cambodia: most information platforms are not interactive; there is no exchange
between the readers and content editors. There should be a space where readers/users not only post
comments and/or suggestions but also rate the usefulness of information.

The need for ITES is large in the Global South. A very specific aspect of ITES work there is mitigation
of E-waste. An E-waste research paper is available from APC.

Quote: Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria: little attention is given to ITES in Africa because more
environmental activism is cantered on oil spillages and gas flaring. FMA, Philippines: Greenpeace SE
Asia has been focusing their attention on toxic waste disposal in Asia and perhaps the problem of e-
waste could be a common issue that both organizations could address together.

Your ideas for ITES networking action or other suggestions:

Capacity Building

Capacity Building will be a major focus of ITES work, as well as education. IT is a relatively new area
in the environmental movement, while environment seems to be slightly out of focus for IT activists.

Based on suggestions from APC members and team, the draft list of capacity building strategies would
      Provision of IT resources and tools for civil society dealing with environmental challenges.
      Training for civil society in using IT for campaigning, public information and advocacy on
         environmental issues.
      Development of briefing papers, manuals and other relevant capacity building materials.
      E-learning as an effective tool for capacity building for the both the environmental novice and
         the expert community.
      Reaching out to local NGOs involved in environmental sustainability by providing assistance
         with web-based applications for collection, dissemination and archiving of vital documents.

We obviously need more feedback on ITES capacity building:

ITES Policy Work

ITES policies require further development and civil society can play a major role in that. Policy
positions will most likely emerge from contribution to on-the-ground activities. APC’s experience with
CIPP and WNSP policy to date has proved that good policy positions emerge from a combination of on
the ground work, practice, which evolves/develops overtime, integrated with lobbying and advocacy in
policy spaces. Therefore quality policy outcomes can be based on accumulated time and action.

APC members interviewed suggested that policy work in ITs for ES should be focused on advocacy
work and accessible information. The following possible areas were highlighted:

         Lobbying at major global environmental events in order to set policies that require and enable
          ITES, and to maintain ITES as priority issue for IT policy stakeholders and NGOs.
         Pooling in survey and research data in order to create a baseline for policy development and
          civil society positions, as in other policy fields.
         Studying and promoting existing good policy instruments across regions – e.g. the UNECE
          Aarhus convention provisions on IT tools for public access to environmental information.

Thoughts on ITES related policy work, please:

Support needed by civil society organizations working on ITES

When asked about what kind of support would be needed for their work, organizations listed the
following possibilities:
      support in capacity building tools;
      locating resources, such as draft templates for funding submissions;
      aid with networking and accessing related ITs for ES information;
      experience and guidance in multi-lingual and multi-stakeholder applications development; and
      financial support for ITES work.

Any elaboration, or missing types of support are appreciated here:


Resource persons and organizations who contributed to this paper: Allan Alegre, Foundation for Media
Alternatives; Anriette Esterhuysen, APC; John Dada, Fantsuam Foundation; Mihali Bako,
StrawberryNet, Romania; Milena Bokova, BlueLink, Bulgaria; Mitra Ardron, Natural Innovation / IGC;
Karen Banks and Karen Higgs, both APC, Sidaroth Kong (Da), Open Forum Cambodia (list to be
completed). IISD Canada has provided resources for Sara Ly to spend 6 months assisting the ITES
preliminary research and portal preparation.

Contacts and feedback

Contacts and feedback to this paper are invited by e-mail to <>, by telephone to
+36 20 3839851, or to skype name <pavelan>.

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