Forthcoming research commissioned by the Ford Foundation, Ariadne and Mozilla will explore grantmaking strategies that can address both issues

Today, Mozilla, the Ford Foundation and Ariadne are kicking off a new research project exploring how digital rights and climate justice intersect. The research will better equip digital rights funders to craft grantmaking strategies that maximize impact on both issues.

Interim findings from the research will be released in the first quarter of 2022.

Says Michelle Thorne, Senior Program Officer at Mozilla: “The internet is the world’s largest fossil-fuel powered machine, and as funders in the digital rights field, it’s our responsibility to assess and mitigate the internet’s harms not just to human rights, but also to the environment. Examples of harms that come to mind are carbon emissions, extractive industries, and environments and communities impacted with a lack of accountability.”

Michael Brennan, Senior Program Officer at Ford: “We believe that digital rights and environmental justice networks are often siloed from each other, despite being inextricably linked. And so we need to set a grantmaking agenda that connects these issues today, rather than retrofitting the field years from now. That starts with understanding how we, as digital rights funders, can better approach climate and environmental justice.”

Julie Broome, Director of Ariadne continues: “This research will sit within a larger convening effort among funders and practitioners to develop shared understanding and strategies to grow our movements’ understanding of these issues, to invest more impactfully and take more effective action together.”

The research will be conducted by The Engine Room, with additional deep dives into specific issues by the Association for Progressive Communications, BSR, and Open Environmental Data Project.

Specifically, the scope will consist of: A landscape analysis of major existing research at the intersection of digital rights and environmental justice issues; a network mapping of civic actors, public interest technologists, and individuals working on this intersection; a set of needs and capacities of civic actors within the ecosystem in order to amplify and accelerate work at this intersection; an initial analysis of the most impactful/strategic interventions in the short- and medium-term defined by the different stakeholders; and a set of recommendations for funders, particularly for those focused on digital rights, that supports civic actors working at this intersection.

This work will complement Mozilla’s existing Sustainability Program and build out Mozilla’s capacity to explore emerging issues. This work also reflects the priorities of the Technology and Society team at Ford Foundation to understand and address social justice issues at the intersection of tech, climate and the environment.