ICTs for the Good of the Environment

In doing our sector projects this week, I was made aware of how detrimental ICTs can be for the environment in terms of e-waste and other factors, yet also how useful they can be to help protect the environment and monitor degradation and keep developing countries in check in terms of sustainability. One of our case studies was the project in the Amazon with the Surui tribe- a really interesting way to go about conservation and monitoring. We talked about it a little during our presentation, but were not fully able to go into detail- by introducing new technologies, the tribe was able to receive validation for carbon market standards from a number of international agencies.

The success of this project could be due to any number of factors, but it seems to me that its most important aspect was the involvement of the indigenous people from the very start. One of the main reasons for failure we have seen in many ICT projects is in projects like One Laptop Per Child, where the model, while a good idea in theory, is very one size fits all and doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the people from the get go. The Surui project has been headed by the Matereilá association, or the Surui representative body from the very start. The representatives on the Matereilá and people in the community were then not just instructed what to do get financing but were also taught how to use the appropriate technology for conservation and for financing purposes. Along with developing a program for the carbon project, the organizations involved in the project also developed a 50 year development plan, with financing from their sustainability initiatives, that is a completely self-developed and autonomous action plan for improved territorial governance and community well-being- a plan that will hopefully bring a lot of development to the community, but also, more importantly, brings development in a way they see fit, that works with their lifestyle now and for years to come.

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3 responses to “ICTs for the Good of the Environment

  • gmizrahi

    sustainability of programs is an important aspect in a successful development initiative to guarantee the long term success of the program. It would potentially be interesting to see if this tribe could then be able to educate other tribes in the area on this project, thereby increasing its scope and doing so in a highly self-sustaining way.

  • dlach

    I’m also amazed that so many projects, like OLPC, can possibly envision blindly handing over technology working for indigenous populations. Do you know if there were any language barriers in getting this particular project going? Also, in reference to the last comment, is there much communication among these tribes?

  • pikester1214

    I agree that the most important aspect in implementing ICTs is understanding the target users. It seems so obvious, but looking at projects such as OLPC, it shows that sometimes, projects lose focus on their main mission.

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