New Report: Engaging with the Tech Industry on FCS

We are delighted to be co-publishing a report with LSE IDEAS on engaging with tech companies doing business in fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCS).

This briefing paper examines how we can build multi-stakeholder partnerships to bolster the contribution of technology to peace and human security. Collaboration and partnering among diverse actors and building new types of mutually beneficial relationships are critical to leverage technology’s positive contributions to peace and the SDGs and avoid its abuse for the pursuit of conflict. Facilitating transformative partnerships requires constructive engagement between tech companies and local communities affected by their products, services, and business models.

The proposals in this briefing paper provide a starting point for companies, civil society, academics, and policymakers to catalyze such engagement. This paper highlights the need for a systemic understanding of the uses and impacts of technology in FCS and a bottom-up and people-centered approach to building sustainable partnerships. It sets out key initial steps to improve coordination between stakeholders and fill gaps in research, understanding, and policy. From this will follow the development of specific tools and guidance for tech companies working in FCS.

The briefing paper is based on ideas developed in a discussion paper and a 2-day roundtable discussion with experts from the private sector, civil society organizations, community representatives, and academia held in March 2021. It is intended to create momentum for change and positive action by multiple stakeholders as they respond to the increasing importance of digital technologies. The workshop and report were generously supported by the LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund.

Recommendations in Brief

To address the challenges to effective engagement between the tech industry and local stakeholders in FCS, especially typical users and marginalized communities, stakeholders must make efforts in multiple priority areas. Therefore, we urge business leaders, academics, and civil society to consider the following high-level recommendations:

For all stakeholders:

  • Support a multi-stakeholder process.
  • Develop a bespoke policy framework and implementation guidance.
  • Engage in critical research.
  • Accommodate discomfort and adversity.
  • Build inclusive engagement practices.

For companies:

  • Prioritize sustained community engagement.
  • Enhance the capacity of internal teams.
  • Support joint engagement.

For civil society:

  • Focus on shared opportunities.
  • Coordinate engagement strategies.