Recent international summits in India and the UAE have addressed the needed urgency to tackle the climate crisis through innovative approaches, particularly Digital Public Infrastructure, Artificial Intelligence and Circular Economy. As the climate implications keep on exacerbating globally, impacting mainly emerging markets, there is a greater need for innovative and collective approaches, channeling the power of the masses and artificial instruments to scale human capacity and magnitude.
The pioneering scholarship provided by the Indian Presidency of the G20 has brought the notion of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) into the technological narrative, highlighting the collective approach to open-source data and the transformation of the digital into public goods and services. DPI is still being developed as an international approach outside of South Asia, while enhancing its reach and applicability in the South Asian market. Considering the uniting force of DPI, one may suggest the immense contribution of climate issues in bringing developed and developing countries to talk. Recent G20 summit sessions have highlighted the inevitable role of India in addressing climate challenges due to the exceptional operational scope of the India Stack, which includes more than a billion people.
Traditionally, the epitome of COP, the Conference of the Parties, has been to convene the international community to address core climate issues. This entails:
- Prevention, mitigation, and innovation
- Maximizing the opportunities of cross-cultural collaborations and practices
- Designing the international thresholds moderating the impact of natural hazards and human-driven catastrophes on planetary welfare
Critically, the waste crisis has detrimental implications on our planet, and India has been on the global frontlines to fight it. Current pioneering services and solutions offer a regulated and monitored value chain of waste management across the country, relying upon circular economy principles and the delivery of EPR services across entities. Due to the population scope and dynamic landscape of India, the need to artificially expand the manual scope using emerging technologies has been a topic of constant discussion across policymakers and stakeholders.
COP28 has centralized the role of Artificial Intelligence in harnessing the strategic role of data-driven solutions to enhance climate resilience and adaptation in developing countries. Notably, we are seeing an abundant number of AI-driven solutions deployed in the agriculture, energy, and waste sectors to enable predictive maintenance and provide responsive material usage. Many scholars and tech practitioners will attribute this increase in AI-driven solutions to the accelerated development of generative AI and its open-source applications across users globally.
However, as reinforced in COP28, AI-driven solutions can truly support the least developed countries and small island developing States under the relevant responsible practices of technological development and regulatory thresholds. Replacing human-driven catastrophes with artificial ones is not a desired output and will amplify the damage to vulnerable communities.
One may mention the development of sophisticated AI-driven IoT bins tracking material capacity in waste collection sites, enhanced monitoring apps tracking material value chain and connecting stakeholders in real time, and weather intelligence systems predicting floods and crop optimizations for farmers. AI-driven climate action is therefore necessary to increase national capacity building to combat natural hazards and extreme weather conditions and support the livelihoods of individuals most impacted by climate change in the informal sector. However, it is also important to acknowledge the loopholes of Artificial Intelligence, due to the great energy quantities it consumes. It is therefore of paramount importance to enable human-machine interactions and a hybrid value chain, combining both artificial capabilities to scale climate solutions, whilst still being monitored by humans to validate data accuracy and mitigate human biases.
Following the above, the increasing climate implications require a collective and bottom-up approach to digital innovation and circular economy, possibly combined into a new concept of Smart Circular Innovation. The term reflects the establishment of data-driven mechanisms fostering the reuse, durability, remanufacturing, and recycling of materials to extend the life cycle of products as long as possible in the economy. This ecosystem should enable all those impacted by the climate crisis to be partners in solution delivery, using a transparent and data-driven value chain across the entities involved.
Notwithstanding, the ambitious pledges and promises of COP28 are essential but do not represent a full guarantee to protect sustainable livelihoods. The development of responsible waste solutions is therefore crucial to fighting the waste crisis globally and fostering responsible usage and production of assets and materials in the modern era.