CAG hosted a panel discussion to discuss various dangers that policies such as Smart Cities and other ICT initiatives are fraught with. Satyarupa Shekhar writes about discussions on issues of social injustice, privacy, digital divides and lack of institutional capacity in the context of the smart cities agenda and their implications for citizenship.
Satyarupa Shekhar, Director - Government Outreach and Advisory
The last day of the Break Free From Plastics meeting was kept for communications. How can we be more effective in getting across our stories to citizens, governments, and corporates? This session was led by Dancing Fox, a group that works to “help change makers tell their story, and help storytellers change the world”.
On the third day of the four-day Break Free From Plastics meeting, we started with an overview of the link between climate, oil and plastics. That the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, leads to carbon emissions, which have caused a rapid change in the climate is well established. But what is the link between plastics and climate? If you create a venn diagram between the two, the overlap that you will see is fossil fuels.
Day 2 of the Break Free From Plastics meeting in Bali picked up pace quite rapidly. Where Day 1 aimed to set the expectations of the meeting and looking back at the recent past, today we looked at the various actions and strategies that are underway or planned for the coming 18 months. The conversation was anchored in four key questions, one each for the key themes that emerged from the previous day. We formed several break-away groups and had the opportunity to discuss each question.
The Break Free From Plastics (BFFP) Movement meeting started on July 17 in Bali, Indonesia with more than 90 individuals coming from across the world for the four-day meeting. This follows the 2016 meeting in Tagatay, the Philippines where 90 non-governmental organisations committed to work towards a ‘future free of plastics pollution’. It is hard to miss the messages about plastics in oceans and how plastics will outnumber fish or that birds and animals, even on the remotest islands, are dying from having ingested plastics.
On June 4, The Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers, and the Future of Chennai, a coalition of research and advocacy groups currently led by Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), undertook a waste assessment and characterisation study (WACS) on Marina Beach, Chennai. Volunteers from the Angels of the Marina and Just Volunteer groups collected 40 bags of inorganic waste from a 200 metre stretch of the beach in two hours.
While the discussion on open government data, especially in developing countries, is at the national government level, it is the local is where data is collected and stored, and when published, can generate impact. In this recently-published synthesis paper, Michael Canares and Satyarupa Shekhar bring the focus of discussions of open government data from national to local contexts.
As part of CAG's 30 year celebrations, we hosted a panel discussion on smart citizenship to discuss various dangers that policies such as Smart Cities and other information and communication technologies (ICT) initiatives are fraught with. Sometimes the benefits of collecting and making data open can be understood in different ways, or are conflicting or may even have undesired effects. Transparency, for instance, could mean both, the public availability of data or the ability of citizens to engage with the government in decision making processes.