Considering Intersectionality in Inclusive Sustainable Development

A new term that falls under our study of inclusive sustainable development is intersectionality, which is the “simultaneous experience of categorical and hierarchical classifications” (Cole). Some of these classifications can include race, gender, sexuality, and even disability. All of the different forms of oppression that stem from these classifications (sexism, racism, etc.) are therefore mutually dependent and intersect, creating a whole system of oppression. It is a situation of give and take; people enjoy certain privileges yet others experience discrimination based on their status in society as set by these classifiers. Continue reading

What does the digital divide mean for inclusive sustainable development?

First, the digital divide refers to the unequal distribution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across and within societies. This includes not only access to but also usage of computers and the internet. This divide can be on a larger scale, between developed and developing nations, or on a smaller scale, between various socio-economic and socially stratified groups within one country. The term digital divide became more regularly used in the later-1990s, with its beginnings found in news articles and political speeches, most notably in a speech by President Bill Clinton. It’s also important to note that differences in technology and their social implications have been recognized before the term digital divide came about, but the term represents a useful label in the discourse surrounding this topic. 

Second, through understanding the origins and definitional basis of the digital divide, the implications and effects of the digital divide on inclusive sustainable development can be examined. According to an article by the World Economic Forum (WEF), four billion people, as of 2016, do not have access to the internet. The WEF lays out four main reasons why the digital divide persists: (1) lack of infrastructure, (2) high cost of devices and connectivity, (3) education and cultural issues, and (4) language barriers. Due to the complex and multidimensional nature of addressing the digital divide, governments, companies, local and international organizations and civil society members are working on increasing peoples’ access to ICTs. What does this all mean for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Many leaders in the Economic and Social Council of the UN discussed how closing the digital gap is vital to attaining sustainable development in a Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation in May 2019.  Many leaders in this Forum discuss the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism and its effectiveness. According to Liu Zhenmin, in the wake of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations must help people, especially youth, harness technology, in order to implement the SDGs. Romain Murenzi, the Executive Director of the World Academy of Sciences, stresses that focuses on technology and innovation can and will ensure inclusivity and close the gaps between “haves” and “have nots.” The international cooperation and multilateral action to address and tackle the digital divide is promising. Closing the gap in digital access and usage will push the world closer to achieving the SDGs and minimizing inequality.

Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

There are several multilateral organizations aiming to address the unequal destruction that is caused from things like earthquakes or floods.  According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, there is no such thing as a natural disaster, only natural hazards. As such, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to decrease damage done by natural hazards.  “DRR can preserve lives and increase the resilience of communities by strengthening their capacity to anticipate, absorb and recover from these shocks.” Through systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the factors behind disasters, the UN and other organizations specifically for DRR and DRM aim to lessen vulnerabilities, promote wise management of land and environment, and improve preparedness and early detection. 

Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) discusses how, at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 countries pledged to many actions regarding detection. They point out that investments in early warning systems not only save lives but also significant assets. The Global Climate Action Summit 2019 committed to protect 1 billion more people from disasters through investing millions in early warning systems. In order to be effective and sustainable, warning systems must actively involve the communities at risk. With the recognition of benefits by local people, the impact of hazards can be significantly reduced if not avoided. One early warning system, Practical Action, has been working in DRR in Nepal since 2001, and their early warning system for the regular flooding of the Koshi River was built for long-term sustainability and community involvement. Can the technical aspects of reducing risks of disaster be effective without addressing inequality and inclusion? 

Along with the technical aspects of DRR and DRM like warning systems and management of land and environment, its level of inclusivity will no doubt have implications for the resilience of communities to natural hazards. Earthquakes, floods, forest fires, etc affect different people in unequal ways, particularly regarding their level of vulnerability. Vulnerability is complex; it is not just about poverty, but includes physical, social, economic, and environmental factors. Also, vulnerability is shaped by historical, political, and institutional processes. Persons with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to disasters and disability inclusion is key to inclusive DRR and humanitarian action. “Achieving disability-inclusive DRM can empower persons with disabilities to take their rightful place as agents of change, and as active contributors to the development and effective implementation of DRM policies, plans and standards.” Being disability-inclusive is necessary in DRR and DRM not only for the resilience of communities but also for society as a whole.  

Why Multi stakeholder Governance?

This weeks discussions builds upon last week’s readings on ICTs by focusing on internet governance. Internet governance (IG) encompasses all the rules, standards, and practices that regulate and shape cyberspace. Because there are multiple networks that cover a variety of regions, internet governance becomes a multi stakeholder issue due to the different actors, organizations, and individuals it affects. Internet governance therefore expands to multi stakeholder internet governance, which aims to bring all those different actors to participate in decision making, solutions, dialogue, and implementation of policies and rules related to internet governance. Multi stakeholder governance was a focal point to understand IG in each of our readings. For example, ISOC spoke about the multi stakeholder approach and how it has three components: infrastructure, governance, and humans (Internet Society). To have successful multi stakeholder decision-making to guide a progressing internet society, there needs to be inclusiveness and transparency, collective responsibility, effective decision making, and collaboration through distributed and interoperable governance (Internet Society). ISOC stated that multi stakeholder decision making is great for the reasons we touched upon; the process helps issues where decisions impact a wide range of people with overlapping rights across sectors. Continue reading