1:30pm EST / 7:30pm CEST

As governments everywhere rush to digitalize their services and operations, the serious human costs—from exclusion to surveillance—are ever-more apparent. But the digital transformation of government entails a spectrum of other, under-acknowledged costs. Namely, while governments’ digitalization strategies often invisibilize materiality and promise “presenceless” digital government, vast infrastructures underlie these digitalization efforts. From mining metals for hardware, to data centers’ energy and water consumption, and enormous amounts of e-waste, the material realities of digital government entail significant harms to humans and the environment—and fall disproportionately on low-income, indigenous, and other historically marginalized groups.

Increasing attention is now paid to the environmental footprint of digital technologies. Understandably, this has almost exclusively focused on private industry. But the environmental implications of government digitalization warrant greater attention. Governments are building enormous databases and deploying machine learning—while saying and doing nothing about the environmental realities. Moreover, governments play crucial roles in shaping the future of technologies’ environmental impacts, through setting standards and regulating private practices.

In this event, speakers from across disciplines—including human rights, geography, and design—will highlight the socio-environmental impacts of digital government and recent developments. Through discussion with the speakers and the audience, we will explore governments’ roles acknowledging, mitigating, and regulating environmental futures as they ‘digitally transform.’


Victoria Adelmant (Moderator), Director of the Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice; Adjunct Professor at NYU School of Law

Grace Akese, post-doctoral researcher at the Universitaet Bayreuth focusing on the geographies of e-waste; Discard Studies Scholar within the African Cluster of Excellence

Paz Peña, independent researcher, consultant, and activist on technology, feminism and social justice, expert in how technologies relate to the climate crisis

Gauthier Roussilhe, researcher focusing on the environmental impacts of digital technologies and digital materiality; consultant and scientific expert for public institutions including the French Administration

To attend this event, please register for RightsCon by clicking here and selecting ‘free online ticket.’


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