Rethink, Retool, Reboot
Technology as if people and planet mattered
In this powerful new book Simon Trace (Practical Action CEO 2005-2015) builds on Practical Action’s Schumacher heritage to look at technology from both a human development and environmental perspective and provide an analysis of global relevance.
It addresses the issue of access to technology and problems arising from its unregulated use. It advocates changing how innovation systems deliver technology so that it addresses poverty and environmental sustainability, drawing on examples from food, energy, water and health.
Rethink, Retool, Reboot presents the evidence and analysis that informs Practical Action’s organisational mission to create a world with Technology Justice: where technology and innovation is used to end poverty and provide a sustainable future for everyone on our planet.
A fifth of the world’s population lacks access to technologies fundamental to a basic standard of living – technologies needed to provide food, water, shelter, health and education.
Technology is a double edged sword. And unfettered use of technology by those who have it brings its own problems – including pollution, global warming and threats to the very possibility of a sustainable future for humanity.
We urgently need to change how we govern the development and use of technology, using Technology Justice to:
- rethink how we provide access to and govern the use technology today.
- retool – to change our innovation systems to deliver technology that is socially useful and addresses the key challenges of poverty and environmental sustainability.
- Above all, our relationship with technology needs a reboot. We need Technology Justice to provide a radically different approach to our oversight and governance of the development and use of technology.
‘Technology is always about politics and social justice: who wins, who loses, and what directions are chosen. This book puts these themes centre-stage in a clear and accessible style. Anyone interested in how technology can work for people, justice, sustainability and development should read it.’
Ian Scoones, Director ESRC STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Technology Justice in action
Lack of investment in extension services in the developing world lead to reduced productivity and low returns for farmers, while the private sector cherry picks areas of highest commercial return. Our work developing the kamayoq network in Peru has proved the value of this approach.
Since the 1900s, 75% of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have abandoned local varieties for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties. When genetic material is required to address a specific problem it can be hard to find. Our work on saline resistant rice in Sri Lanka helped address this issue.