How often is the technology policy solution, an environmentally sustainable one? And how often are sustainability policy tools drawing on innovative communication technologies? Global Information Society Watch 2010 proposes, not often enough.
Given thematic global governance tracks for information communications technology (ICT) and environment within the UN system are led by specialized agencies, greens and techies barely pass each other in the halls. Operating in silos on various levels of policy engagement, ICT and environmental policy-makers don’t often have the opportunity to sit in the same negotiating rooms, discuss joint implementation programmes, or let alone talk to each other during a tea break.
With a throwback to specialization, the national, regional and global governance systems of ICTs and environment exist in tangents, with institutions unable to harness the potentials for catalysis and coherence of innovative private-sector solutions to conserve the environment. A promising area not directly addressed within the UN Climate Change Conference negotiations this December in Cancun, Mexico is the linkage of climate change with ICTs. Consider how the talk of sustainable consumption (and energy efficiency) in climate governance fails to carve out role for ICT applications as part of the clean energy technology discourse (and issues of technology transfer). It is with much relevance and timelines that this year’s issue of the Global Information Society Watch focuses on the intersection of ICTs and Environmental Sustainability.
The report highlights that despite the gulf between the fields, there are enough promising pilots (citizen science) and troubling issues (e-waste) for environmentalists and technologists to come to the policy table and dialogue. For substantive policy action to take place and bridge the gulf of these issues, more thoughtful leadership from virtual roundtables like GIS Watch, is needed to seat together ministers and practioners from nations of technologies and ecologies. Catherine Candano is a research scholar in Communications and New Media at National University of Singapore, focusing on the interaction of ICTs and environmental sustainability. Recent work on global ICT policy and climate change is published in Walter F. Leahl (ed.) "The Economic, Social, Political Elements of Climate Change" by Springer, Berlin.