New & Emergent ICTs and Climate Change in Developing Countries

Author and Institution: 
Stan Karanasios, University of Leeds

Climate change impacts both the biophysical environment and human activity, and imposes a range of new challenges for research, technology development, and knowledge and information exchange. Over the last decade advances in ICT have emerged as a critical ingredient in the development process and can equally play a role in the climate change challenge. Based on a comprehensive review of the extant literature this paper outlines the range of new and emergent ICTs (e.g. wireless broadband and wireless sensor networks, geographic information systems and Web­based tools) being applied to climate change issues and investigates their use in developing countries. It also discusses innovative uses of established technologies such as mobile phones, but the main contribution will be to give those working on climate change an understanding of the technologies that will increasingly be used in their field: not just the identity of the technologies but their potential benefits and application areas.

The paper discusses three major application areas: (1) monitoring of climate change and the environment, (2) disaster management, and (3) climate change adaptation. A range of examples of the use of new and emergent ICTs in these areas in developing countries is described in order to demonstrate their utility and importance in assisting vulnerable communities to meet the climate change challenge. The review shows these technologies are predominately being deployed for disaster management and for localised monitoring activities. The technologies are not yet being employed much for adaptation purposes. A series of recommendations for researchers, NGOs and governments is provided in order to facilitate the widespread and effective application of new ICTs for climate change in developing countries.