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Learning in the open

This post is part of the Green Web Fellowship. Fellows are exploring the intersection of digital rights and climate justice; and are reflecting honestly on what they learn. More about the fellowship and the fellows.

Digital policy and Climate Justice

An interview with Catherine Muya, one of our Green Web Fellows 2023.

Katrin: Catherine, how has your experience as a Green Web Fellow been so far?

Catherine: It’s been a great experience so far! I like that I could apply to the fellowship with an idea that was still work in progress, and that I could, since then, continuously refine my project. When starting the fellowship in February 2023, I didn’t know a lot about the intersection of digital rights and climate justice. I was curious, and I used a lot of time to refine my project and research more about it. 

I’ve also learned a lot from the other fellows. They validate my ideas, which is great. I appreciate the diversity of the fellows, because it allows me to meet different people that do different things. The feedback and recommendations from the other fellows are especially helpful and allow for reflection about what is feasible in my project – and what is not.

In general, the last few months leading up to our mid-point presentations have been crucial. It’s interesting to see how our ideas opened our minds, and how we are now seeing a lot of topics differently. This has been a great learning experience. 

Katrin: Can you remind us what your project is about?

Catherine: Right now, I’m planning to do a report on how to improve the digital safety and security of climate activists in Sub-Saharan Africa. When I started the fellowship, I was trying to produce interactive outputs. But then I realised that I ran the danger of suffocating the project by trying to do everything all at once. 

So I decided to make it something meaningful and impactful for me and the key audience, and appreciate the learning as part of the overall process. Right now, I want to have fun and delve deeper into the topics, and find a way to present them in my own unique way.

Realising that having fun is also an integral part for the fellowship, and that a meaningful output does not necessarily mean doing 500 different things, was a big learning for me as well. Now I see what matters is to present the output in a way that supports the people actually working on this. 

Katrin: What would be your number one advice for starting this fellowship? 

Catherine: My number one advice would be to have an open mind. It’s okay to change your mind during the fellowship towards what you think works best – that is important to see. Also remember that your fellowship idea is about what you want to do, and what you think would be the most helpful to your communities. You’re the validation for it.

Katrin: Who would you recommend this fellowship to?

Catherine: I would recommend it to people who are working on digital policy; who want to create impactful work that goes towards contributing to a sustainable environment. The way that sustainability and digital policy intersect has just been completely eye opening for me. Before I started the fellowship I didn’t really think about the contribution of digital transformation to climate change. Through the fellowship, I keenly got to understand how design of digital infrastructure and products could mitigate the impacts of climate change. I also didn’t know anyone working at this intersection but through the fellowship I have found a global community of people willing to support you as you explore this process.

Also, I would recommend it to people who want to tackle climate change or who want to work on environmental issues. Even if you are an environmental defender, there are so many things that other fellows could learn from you. So as long as you have an interesting idea that brings this intersection of digital rights and climate justice forward, you should apply. 

I am happy that my project reflects my strengths in the digital policy space, but that it also asks open questions and explores new avenues. The fellowship is a space for learning together, and I appreciate having it.

Katrin: Thank you so much, Catherine.

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