Internet Futures and the Climate Crisis – Paths to Sustainability or Extinction?


Wed, Nov 27 • 11.30 • Estrel Saal B

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of World Wide Web, a fundamental moment in the history of the Internet, and an integral part of our daily lives in this era of the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. It is estimated that over 4 billion people are now internet users and 3.9 billion are active mobile internet users, which represents more than half of the global population. However, Internet connectivity comes at a price: despite the potential to reduce the environmental impact, the internet and its dependent technologies are in fact contributing to the current climate crisis, and with the global number of users rapidly increasing, the ICTs may soon overtake the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. 

Can green Internet-dependent technologies offer smart solutions to tackle the climate crisis?

Discussions around sustainability and the environmental impact of ICTs have been largely absent from Internet Governance agendas, despite the current global climate crisis and the ever-growing energy demands of a fast-increasing digital industry.

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 internet-dependent technologies 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 the current climate crisis and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

This session is a follow-up to meetings organised last year IGF in Paris and at this year’s EuroDIG in The Hague and part of our ongoing outreach work through the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet

Objectives of this session:

  1.  Accelerate the awareness of the digital environmental impacts among all the IGF stakeholders and put the environmental issue and its connection with the ICTs on the forefront of the main IG agendas;
  2. Listen to and act upon the main concerns of the younger generations;
  3. Address the major issues arising from the fast increase of energy consumption and carbon footprint of internet dependent technologies: production, consumption and e-waste; climate misinformation online and harassment of youth climate activists and identify the society impact and the human rights directly affected directly by the environmental hazards of internet dependent technologies (e.g. forced labour, climate migration);
  4. Create a collective hub, bringing together all IGF participants to produce the creative solutions urgently needed to ensure that next generation of internet-dependent technologies provide technologically viable and sustainable responses to issues arising from global environmental degradation.

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 impact of internet-dependent technologies?
  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 environmental sustainability and  “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?

#ClimateCrisis #Emerging #Technology #Youth #DC #netrights

Posted in Climate Action, IGF 2019.