Climate Change as a Strategic Priority for ICT4D Organisations: Current Attitudes, Responses and Needs

Author and Institution: 
Alan Finlay, Open Research, South Africa

This paper considers the extent to which climate change has become a strategic priority for information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) organisations. Through a survey of 30 ICT4D organisations primarily from
developing countries, as well as an overview of the thematic interests of authors participating in a recent publication on ICTs and environmental sustainability, it shows that there is a predominant interest in adaptation strategies in developing
contexts. However, it also supports the argument that widespread, tangible ICT interventions at the local level are not yet being felt. This is due to many reasons, including capacity issues in organisations, the fact that many organisations are still positioning themselves appropriately in the field of ICTs and climate change, and unsupportive institutional contexts.

The paper argues that while ICT4D organisations can leverage past competencies in addressing climate change in developing countries, climate change presents an atypical advocacy scenario, which makes direct engagement in the field difficult for some and may affect decisions around strategic interventions. It goes on further to tentatively suggests that while adaptation strategies in the most vulnerable contexts are critical, interventions in the field that support ICT4D organisations should guard against overdetermining strategic engagement, given the heterogeneous nature of ICT4D organisations, and the fluidity of their engagement across different fora and platforms, from the local to the global level. In this regard, the most effective strategic response to climate change from ICT4D organisations is likely to be specific to their key competencies and organisational strategies and mandates generally, rather than geographically predetermined.