Making Policy on ICTs and Climate Change in Developing Countries

Author and Institution: 
Angelica V. Ospina, University of Manchester
Richard Heeks, University of Manchester

As climate change gains momentum within the global agenda, there is an increasing need for the development of policies that enable coherent, innovative and flexible climate change responses. This need is particularly acute in developing countries, where the magnitude of climate change impacts calls for novel policy approaches and regulatory environments that foster effective mitigation, adaptation and monitoring strategies.

The rapid diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) within low­ income contexts, the most vulnerable to climatic manifestations, is adding a new dimension to the climate change policy debate. Emerging experiences suggest that ICT tools are playing an increasing role in the capacity of developing countries to withstand, recover from, and adjust to climate change impacts. But they also suggest that policies which acknowledge and build on the linkages between ICTs, climate change and development are pivotal in enabling innovative responses to mitigate, monitor, and adapt to climatic impacts and uncertainty.

Recognising these linkages, as well as the embryonic nature of national policy approaches that explicitly integrate ICTs and climate change, the objective of this paper is two­fold. It identifies the key climate change issues that ICT policy­makers should address within developing country environments, and also the key ICT issues that climate change policy­makers should integrate in order to ensure coherence, innovation and flexibility in the implementation of climate change actions.

The paper is aimed at an audience of ICT/telecommunications and climate change/environment policy­makers and strategists. It explores the ICTs, climate change and development (ICCD) policy context, identifying key policy domains and principles. Based on that, the analysis suggests that three main components should be in place for the formulation and implementation of effective ICCD policies, namely (a) content, (b) structures and (c) processes. After exploring each of those components, the paper presents key opportunities and challenges faced in the
integration of ICCD policies, suggesting key entry points for developing country policy­makers and strategists in this field.