Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development

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Free and open source software (FOSS) technologies transcend geographical and cultural boundaries to usher in a new paradigm where volunteers collaboratively develop software for the commons. The political economy of FOSS technologies has far-reaching implications because of the centrality of information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D). The global trend in the diffusion and adoption of FOSS technologies is a testimony to the socio-economic and technological impact the software has for both developed and developing economies. While FOSS development, education and business potentials may appear as a phenomenon for the developed world, a sizable number of developing countries have undertaken bold measures to bring about innovation, sustainable ICT development and technology independence.




In contemporary discourse on sustainable development, much attention has been given to climate change and its mitigation, the conservation of ecological and marine ecosystems, protecting biodiversity, saving the planet from idiosyncratic human activities and reducing hunger and poverty. Yet it is obvious that most of our activities depend on and are supported by a host of technologies. In essence, technology plays an important role in addressing complex systems and problems confronting humankind, all the more so in this interconnected world of ours. Harmonizing complementary spheres of human activity to achieve sustainable development can only be possible if we are able to harness and effectively utilize the technologies around us. We must search for and provide technologies that can solve complex and practical problems. However, if technologies are to support sustainable development and bring about the desired effect, they must be responsive to the needs of the majority of the world’s population, who live in developing countries. They must also be accessible and less restrictive, and encourage broader public participation in decision-making.


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