Programmed obsolescence and electronic waste: solutions from the social and solidarity economy

Alexandra Farbiarz

Is a sociologist, coach and environmental communicologist. She has worked in environmental communications and education since 1999. She currently combines her work as the head of communication at the environmental law firm Terraqui with her work as coach, trainer and consultant through her Besideyoubcn project.
Abstract of the lecture
At the end of December 2017, the collaboration between the United Nations University (UNU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU—the UN organization specialized in telecommunications) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) resulted in the publication of “The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017”. This report provides a panoramic view of the current state of electric and electronic waste on a global level. It analyses the flow, the quantity, the consequences (pollution, illegal transportation practices, etc.) and difficulties in controlling and recycling this sort of waste, which has the potential of becoming secondary raw materials to meet demand.

David Franquesa

Is a computer engineer with a degree from the UPC, where he pursued his doctorate in the circular and collaborative economy of digital devices. The subjects that most interest him are the reuse and traceability of electronics, digital inclusion and cooperative and commons platforms. He has carried out over 15 scientific programs, and has coordinated multiple European projects (Chest-project and TagItSmart). He is director of the eReuse.org project, and he participates in the reutilitza.cat program. He is a member of Pangea.org and co-founder of eReuse.org and the Txt-Tecnologia per a Tothom (Technology for All) Association.
Abstract of the lecture
Currently, the owners of products are the ones with the power to choose when they will become waste, or if they have the potential to be reused. We propose restricting this freedom with eReuse.org’s Circular Licence of Electronic Products, so that the property of the product is not transferred to the individual that possesses it, but instead lies with a community responsible for ensuring it is reused and guaranteeing that it will only be recycled if it has a low potential for reuse or lacks demand. In order to stimulate the usage value of these products, we present a free software algorithm that can be applied to digital equipment. The result of this algorithm is the product’s usage value.

Joseph Silvere Mfou’ou Mbata

Has been a working member of the Alencop cooperative since its creation in 2015. He is a member of both the Business Management Committee and the Governing Board. He obtained his bachelor’s in law and political science at Dschang University in Cameroon, his master’s degree in Business Marketing at the Marketing & Communication School (INSA) in Barcelona, as well as a degree in Social Entrepreneurship as part of the Estàrter program of the UAB’s IGOP school. He is currently pursuing his postgraduate degree in Social and Solidarity Economy—European Studies at the Xarxa d’Economia Solidària de Catalunya (Solidarity Economy Network of Catalonia, or XES) School in Barcelona.
Abstract of the lecture
Alencop is a social initiative, a non-profit cooperative that works in the collection and correct management of waste from electric and electronic devices, as well as scrap metal. Alencop would like to serve as a preparation centre for the reuse and second-hand sale of the devices collected, and would like to promote reuse and a change in consumer habits regarding electric and electronic devices.

Technological sovereignty and feminism


Currently coordinates an international project called Assegurar llibertats en línia i fora de línia per a les dones: expressió, privacitat i inclusió digital (Ensuring freedoms for women online and offline: expression, privacy and digital inclusion). She is a sociologist and a researcher in ICTs for common good, with a doctorate in social economy. Over the last decade, she has been involved in the development of technological sovereignty initiatives for political and social transformation in communities of neighbours, activist research networks, social movements, immigrant adolescents and women’s groups. She is one of the founders of the feminist collective donestech.net, which since 2006 has researched the relationships between gender and technology. She has also edited two books on technological sovereignty: Volum 1 Soberanía tecnológica and Volum 2 Soberanía tecnológica.
Abstract of the lecture
This lecture presents the concept of technological sovereignty and why we should count on other technologies, on something better than what we currently refer to as “Information and Communications Technology”. It delves into the founding principles of technological sovereignty, emphasizing experiences and initiatives promoting freedom, autonomy and social justice while creating autonomous mobile telephone systems, simultaneous translation networks, leaks platforms, security tools, sovereign algorithms, ethical servers and appropriate technologies, among other things. Participants will also reflect on the role of women and non-binary individuals in the development of technological sovereignty initiatives.

Silvia Pérez

Empowered and connected to the network by the transhackfeminist movement of 20 years ago, she has worked as GNU/Linux SysAdmin DevSecOps over the past 15 years. A Debian enthusiast, she has participated in multiple digital accessibility project and learning communities that attend to the technological sovereignty of participants. She currently enjoys taking part in Hack and Coop environments, and focuses on holistic security.
Abstract of the lecture
Technopolitical collectives combine what is social and what is political. Currently, the technopolitical environment is made up of multiple types of organizations, from informal hacktivist networks, free software communities, foundations, start-ups investing in so-called civic technology, and even public institutions and local governments. In this presentation, the audience will be introduced to the current situation of technological cooperatives, and to women’s role and contributions to their development.

Núria Alonso

A student of fine arts reconverted into a computer technician. She loves GNU/Linux and everything with open licenses, where there’s always plenty to learn. For years, she has collaborated in projects that incorporate the social uses of technology. She is a member of Colectic, a non-profit cooperative project that works towards the inclusion, autonomy and empowerment of individuals and communities in the social, labour and technological realms; that understands and uses technology as a tool for participation and social transformation.
Abstract of the lecture
Colectic is a social intervention cooperative that uses technology as an educational tool. They will explain their working experience, both in education and community projects and in technological development projects. In addition, they will discuss how they have incorporated a gender perspective so that technology becomes an emancipating element and not a barrier to working with at-risk groups.

Women, mining extractivism and the violation of human and environmental rights in Latin America

Gloria Chicaiza

Defender of the rights of nature. Coordinator of the mining department of Acción Ecológica in Ecuador. Studied Clinical Psychology and is a member of the Governing Board of the Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America) and the Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de los Derechos Sociales y Ambientales (Latin American Network of Women Defending Social and Environmental Rights). As a result of her work defending the land and the rights of local communities, she has been criminalized and unjustly tried for occupying land owned by the Curimining mining company, and has even been accused of unlawful association and terrorism.
Abstract of the lecture
An analysis of the situation of mining extractivism and its impact of the violation of human and environmental rights in Latin America. At the same time, this talk will focus on the rights of women in specific cases, and their significant role in the construction of alternatives for resistance and defence of their territories and communities. Participants will discuss how alliances with the Latin American network of women defenders have helped to stand up to this model.

Margarita Aquino Aramayo

Margarita Aquino Aramayo is a craftswoman as well as a defender of women’s rights and environmental rights in Bolivia. Together with other ordinary, indigenous and farming women, she organized and took part in the Red Nacional de Mujeres en Defensa de la Madre Tierra (National Network of Women in Defence of Mother Earth, or RENAMAT) in 2013 with the support of the CASA Collective, as a result of the many problems caused by pollution from mines and their impact on the lives of women. This group is present in four Bolivian departments. Margarita is currently RENAMAT coordinator, and she leads the defence of the earth and the fight against environmental violence against women. She also proposes alternatives to the extractivist model using resistance, ancestral knowledge and the voices of women.
Abstract of the lecture
It will address environmental violence against rural indigenous Bolivian women and the organization of resistance by the Red Nacional de Mujeres en Defensa de la Madre Tierra, with its experience in the struggle against mining pollution and its social and environmental impact on communities, and especially on the living conditions of women in Bolivia. The talk will analyse how networks have helped to strengthen community resistance and women’s responses to mining, both where mining already exists and where it threatens to appear.

Karolien Burvenich

Karolien Burvenich is the coordinator of the Make ICT Fair campaign at CATAPA (Belgium). Together with its counterparts, CATAPA is focused on the property rights of local communities in Latin America that are victims of the social and environmental impact of multinational mining companies in the region. Through the Make ICT Fair campaign, CATAPA works on social and political influence regarding the serious impact of the global electronics industry to demand a fair supply chain.
Abstract of the lecture
It’s hard to imagine a world without ICT devices like laptop computers or mobile phones. In fact, each year almost 1.5 billion smartphones are sold worldwide, and this number continues to grow. These devices are made up of different metals, such as gold, lithium or copper. Many of these minerals can be found in Latin America, where they are mostly exploited by multinational corporations. The extractive industry has a serious impact on the social and environmental conditions of local populations, and this is often combined with serious limitations in legislation when it comes to protecting human and environmental rights. in addition, protesting is dangerous and can even be deadly: 60% of the defenders of environmental rights murdered in 2016 were from Latin America.

Poisoning from the use of toxic products in the electronics industry

Amanda Hawes

Obtained her doctorate in law from Harvard University in 1968. Amanda Hawes has spent her entire professional career defending the health and workplace safety of working people and their families. In 1978, she co-founded the Santa Clara Centre for Occupational Safety and Health (SCCOSH) and started the PHASE Project (Project on Health and Safety in Electronics), which did research on the risks of toxic products used in electronics, with the funding of the US Labour Department. As a lawyer, Amanda Hawes has represented hundreds of workers from the electronics sector, seeking compensations for cancer or other chronic occupational diseases. She has also fought to obtain fair compensation for over 100 children exposed from the womb to industrial toxins who were born with disabilities and deformities. As part of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology and other coalitions, she’s active in educating workforces and communities on toxic substances used in the production of electronics.
Abstract of the lecture
The young women who make up much of the workforce of electronics factories place not only their own health at risk with the manipulation of toxic chemicals, but also that of their descendants. Leukaemia, lymphomas and neurological disease as well as spontaneous abortions and foetal malformations are the result of the use of cleaning solvents (such as benzene and derivates, chlorinated and fluorinated hydrocarbons, and alcohols), heavy metals (such as lead and chromium compounds) and adhesives. Regulations on permitted exposure to toxic materials in the workplace are altogether insufficient, and it is extremely difficult to obtain occupational diagnoses and fair compensation for those affected.

Joe DiGangi

Joe DiGangi is a senior consultant in science and technology at IPEN, and he is associated with the working groups from the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. DiGangi also coordinated work by IPEN to implement the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and he has worked to ensure that dangerous chemical products used in electronics are recognized in emerging global policy through recommendations for implementations. He has a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California - Irvine.
Abstract of the lecture
Samsung dominates the global mobile telephone market in Vietnam, where it produces 50% of smartphones. The electronics sector is one of the most relevant to Vietnam’s economic growth, with a rise in exports that is much greater than that of other sectors. Vietnam doesn’t have specific labour laws protecting the health of electronics workers, who are mostly women. The Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development and IPEN did research into the working conditions in two of the largest mobile phone factories through qualitative, in-depth interviews with 45 women. The study denounces violations in labour rights and very worrisome conditions for health and workplace safety. This is the first report of this type in Vietnam, and it offers an exceptional view of Samsung factories.

Heather White

Is codirector of the documentary film ‘Complicit’, the result of three years of following Yi Yeting’s efforts to advise and give support to Chinese electronics workers who have fallen seriously ill as a result of poisonings from the use of toxic chemicals. From 2011-2014, she was a member of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Centre for Ethics. She is a founder and executive ex-director (1995-2005) of www.verite.org, a non-profit organization awarded for its innovative leadership in monitoring global supply chains and social auditing in factories.
Abstract of the lecture
Heather White will explain her 3-year, 8,000-mile journey through China for the filming of “Complicit” alongside Yi Yeting. Yi is ill and collaborates with a non-profit that gives support to individuals with occupational disease, and he discovers that there are dozens of workers from his area who were poisoned while making smartphones. Through community research, they discover a group of leukaemia victims in the neighbourhood surrounding Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn. This documentary was filmed under the radar of the Chinese government, and it exposes global subcontracting and the hidden human costs the brands behind our smartphones don’t want us to see.