UNESCO to train media in West Africa to use digital tools to cover environmental issues

UNESCO will implement a project in four African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon – to train news teams from leading media organisations to use digital tools for investigating and reporting on environmental issues.

Given the numerous presence of international and national extractive companies in Africa, Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, highlighted local media’s role in monitoring these companies’ activities and holding them accountable in case of environmental violations.

In addition to equipping media teams with skills to use technologies such as satellite imagery, databases on climate indicators, 3-D modelling, digital maps and others, UNESCO will also instruct them on researching public records for their coverage, including environmental laws and regulations.

After completion of the project, participants are expected to be able to expose actors who are not complying with environmental laws and commitments, identify discrepancies between officially released data and reality and dispute statements made by politicians.

World Economic Forum issues ‘State of the Connected World 2023’ report

The World Economic Forum and the Council on the Connected World published the State of the Connected World 2023 report exploring governance gaps related to the internet of things (IoT). The report outlines the findings of a survey conducted with 271 experts worldwide to understand the state of IoT affairs. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased IoT demand in health, manufacturing, and consumer IoT. However, there is a lack of confidence when it comes to matters such as privacy and security.

Two main governance gaps are identified: (1) a lack of governmental regulation and implementation of industry standards and (2) IoT users are more susceptible to cyber threats and cyberattacks.

One recommendation is for businesses and governments to develop and implement practices to improve privacy and security and create a more inclusive and accessible IoT ecosystem. The need to improve equal access to technology and its benefits is also underscored.

Lockheed Martin will work with NVIDIA to build an AI-driven Earth Observations Digital Twin for NOAA

Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, and NVIDIA, a global leader in accelerated computing, will collaborate to build an AI-driven Earth Observations Digital Twin for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It will provide NOAA with a centralised approach to monitoring global environmental conditions, including extreme weather events.

The project will use satellite and ground-based observations, which will be ingested, analysed, shared and visually represented by various platforms developed by the two companies.

Sci-Tech Empowering Rural Transformation 2022 Report: Digital Technology Empowers Agricultural Value Chain Development

The Sci-Tech Empowering Rural Transformation 2022 Report: Digital Technology Empowers Agricultural Value Chain Development, released at the 2022 International Forum on Digital Technology Empowering Rural Transformation, was prepared by the China Internet Information Center (CIIC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representation in China, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) China Office, the World Food Programme (WFP) China Centre of Excellence, the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP-CSAM), AliResearch, and the Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion.

The report outlines development trends linked to utilising science and technology for rural areas empowerment, and highlights best practices, focusing on those that are innovative, sustainable, and replicable. One key finding is that smart farming solutions and e-agriculture platforms and applications are contributing to optimising production, reducing costs, increasing knowledge sharing, and promoting sustainable development of agriculture.

Also included in the report are case studies in which the application of digital agricultural technologies helped farmers increase productivity with fewer resources while safeguarding the environment and reducing carbon emissions. It further looks at how digital technology has empowered Chinese value chains and supported the development of rural e-commerce and digital finance, thus alleviating poverty in the western and eastern regions of the country.

Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency launches digital system for environmental inspection and compliance evaluation

The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) launched ‘Eltezam’, a digital system for environmental inspection and compliance evaluation. The new system allows EAD inspectors to review any aspect of an organisation’s activities regarding potential environmental harms (regardless of whether the activities are listed in the organisation’s environmental licence).

The system is built on algorithms that connect industrial sectors with production processes and conditions.

Faisal Al Hammadi, Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Sector at EAD, noted: ‘The agency has developed modern technological tools and programs that ensure compliance by industrial facilities and development projects with environmental laws and requirements.’

The Unit Head, Compliance and Enforcement at EAD, Ahmed Al Waheebi, said that this new digital system aims to strengthen EAD’s inspection role and expand its coverage to all industrial sectors, infrastructure projects, and commercial activities under its jurisdiction.

The UN CTCN is hosting a 3-day capacity building programme on the applications of digital agriculture technology

Between 14 and 16 December 2022, the UN Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), in collaboration with the Seoul National University Global R&DB Centre, is holding a 3-day capacity building programme on ‘Digital Technology Applications in the Agriculture Sector’ for National Designated Entities and officers from concerned Ministries of Agriculture.

The application of digital technologies in agriculture can help transform food systems, contributing to the three stages of sustainability, namely efficiency, substitution, and redesign. The workshop will introduce digital technology enhancements in sustainable agriculture and food systems. Technology, climate finance and policy experts will present current information regarding CTCN technical assistance projects focused on enhancing national capacities and sector-specific climate challenges. Participants will have the opportunity to co-design these projects.

EU lawmakers: Batteries produced in Europe to be the most sustainable in the world

The European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement to revise EU rules on batteries. The new set of rules is to account for the current technological development and future challenges and will cover the entire battery life cycle: from the extraction of raw materials, to industrial production, to end-of-life disposal.

Once approved, the new regulation will be applied to all batteries sold in the EU, from portable batteries in electronic devices, to batteries used in electronic vehicles, e-scooters, and e-bikes. Moreover, all batteries must display a ‘carbon footprint declaration’, outlining the carbon expended in production. Batteries will also be required to contain QR codes that link to the information related to their capacity, performance, durability, and chemical composition.

The agreement, which is yet to be formally approved by the Council and Parliament, relates to a proposal for a regulation on batteries and waste batteries put forward by the European Commission in December 2020.

Bridging the digital divide with Public ICT Access Centres for access to free ICT literacy training and online education

In September 2022, the Ministry of Digital Transformation committed itself to the unveiling of up to 50 ICT Access Centres across the country by the year’s end. The commitment came on the heel of the release of the UNDP’s Digital Readiness Assessment Report in March 2022, which highlighted key problem areas for the country in its quest for whole-of-government, whole-of-society digital transformation as including:

1. The lack of access to broadband internet in public spaces and schools, regardless of area within the country.
2. Older residents and those outside of urban centres receive reduced digital benefits.
3. The effects of COVID-19 exacerbated digital divides on education level.

The Access Centres allow visitors to Connect and Create, Educate and Innovate, while the government has partnered with key organisations such as the Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) Online Programme, YTEPP, and the Microsoft Philanthropic Group to bring these goals to fruition.

To this date, twelve centres have been installed, while five are open and ready to serve.

Amazon Web Services to be water positive by 2030

Amazon Web Services, Inc. has announced plans to become water positive by 2030, ‘returning more water to the communities than it uses in its direct operations’. The company plans to issue annual reports on its water use efficiency metric, new water reuse and recycling efforts, new activities to reduce water consumption in its facilities, and advancements in new and existing replenishment projects. The announcement details that new replenishment projects are scheduled in India, the UK, and the USA.

WHO report recommends to strengthen the evidence base to monitor digital health transformation

Despite the positive role that digital health has played in improving healthcare access, safety, and quality, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that digital health programmes and interventions are often not monitored or evaluated.

Titled Monitoring the implementation of digital health, the report argues that existing metrics for measurement and evaluation tend to be left behind by the rapid evolution of digital health. It then calls for the incorporation of health data measurement and governance into healthcare systems. Making available information more accessible at the national and international levels, addressing the variability in digital health monitoring, paying closer attention to monitoring digital health inequalities, and addressing the potential risk of exacerbating inequalities among the most vulnerable, including young children, are all necessary steps to improve monitoring activities.