Swedwatch teaching materials highlight dark side of electronics

ARTICLE | 5 March 2020

What do the components of your mobile phone have to do with people’s access to clean water? What are working conditions like in electronics factories around the world? How can consumers have a positive impact on these issues and what are the responsibilities of companies? These are some of the questions addressed in new Swedwatch teaching materials about the downside of the production of electronic goods.

The Swedish-language teaching materials Elektronikens baksida build on reports and films from Swedwatch and partner organisations in the EU Make ICT Fair project. They aim to raise awareness among secondary school students of how information and communications technologies (ICT) manufacturing affects people and the environment.

Students can explore the environmental and human rights impacts of mining for minerals that often end up in electronics, as well as the working conditions of assembly line workers, through a series of exercises. They are given the opportunity to actively reflect on the impact of their own consumption of electronics and how companies can take responsibility for their supply chains and contribute towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The materials are adapted to work with different learning styles and time frames. Some are introductory and others are more extensive. The aim of the exercises is to introduce the subject of sustainable development and to provide students with:

  • A deeper understanding of companies’ impact on human rights and the environment in global supply chains, with a particular focus on the IT sector.
  • A deeper understanding of companies’ responsibility to respect human rights according to existing international guidelines.
  • A range of ideas about what they can do to promote sustainable development.

Elektronikens baksida is free to download. It is part of the EU-wide campaign Make ICT Fair which aims to raise awareness among EU citizens of how people and the environment are affected by electronics manufacturing and to improve the working and living conditions of workers and local communities along the supply chain. Make ICT Fair is financed by the EU and partly by SIDA.