Identifying digital technologies for reversing environmental degradation

The potential for digital technology to solve challenges related to environmental degradation is vast, but to date, there has been more of a focus on using technology to understand and quantify challenges, rather than applying it to implement solutions. The Royal Academy of Engineering wants to change this, supported by REDAA.

City park
Photo: Nerea Martí Sesarino, via Unsplash

The Royal Academy of Engineering is exploring and identifying practical interventions to prevent and reverse environmental degradation in Asia and Africa by bringing people together in a virtual Frontiers symposium.  

The aim is to encourage and seed fund fresh ideas inspired by real-life examples of where technologies have been used to address environmental degradation. 

Out of new collaborations, technologies could be developed to refine and scale up existing solutions. 

Inspiring conversation, collaboration and creativity 

The virtual symposium, using a tried and tested format, will provide the space for creative conversations, guided by a three-part framing. Potential new technology should: 

  • Support participatory approaches in research and decision-making¬†

  • Consider data access, visualisation, and analysis¬†

  • Promote real-time monitoring and learning.¬†¬†

Under each category, participants will be encouraged to consider important cross-cutting issues:  

  • Locally led, low-cost technologies: how can technology support and mobilise local change makers who are effective guardians of biodiversity, especially local communities and Indigenous Peoples?¬†¬†

  • Intersectionality: who owns, uses, has access to and benefits from the technology? How can technology be used to ensure more socially inclusive and gender equitable societies while addressing environmental degradation?¬†¬†

  • Interdisciplinarity and multi-stakeholder participation: how can the technologies draw on diverse disciplines and bring together different stakeholders to tackle challenges together?¬†¬†

Watch the video explainer for an overview of the format:

The Frontiers symposium, held over two weeks and culminating in two days of live sessions, is designed to catalyse research-into-action projects and partnerships delivering technology-enabled approaches to reversing environmental degradation in locations in Africa and Asia and restoring ecosystem services.  

The event aims to build cross-disciplinary partnerships among engineers, natural and social scientists, NGOs, communities, business representatives, and more through sharing experiences and co-creating new collaboration ideas.  

Seed funding for taking forward ideas 

To take forward ideas generated at the symposium, the Royal Academy of Engineering will offer competitively allocated seed funding to groups of participants to work on new collaborative projects.  

These will be projects led by the needs of a community and ready to adapt to the context and nuances of the specific challenge they aim to address. 

The symposium and seed funding will catalyse innovative solutions, promote new and stronger networks, foster a ‚Äúcollaboration first‚ÄĚ mindset among participants, facilitate knowledge sharing and cross-pollination of ideas, and build a stronger global community around the challenge.¬†¬†


Royal Academy of Engineering