Mobile Social Congress to denounce work conditions, environmental impact in electronics industry

In parallel, the Mobile World Congress will also see protests due to the presence of the King of Spain

Jofre Güell and Laia Fargas of SETEM Catalonia speak at the presentation for the Mobile Social Congress on February 18 2019 (by Laura Fíguls)
Jofre Güell and Laia Fargas of SETEM Catalonia speak at the presentation for the Mobile Social Congress on February 18 2019 (by Laura Fíguls) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 18, 2019 05:04 PM

Barcelona is ramping up for the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC), a days-long fair dedicated to all things mobile technology. And in parallel, aiming to provide a “space for citizen reflection,” those curious can also find the Mobile Social Congress.

This is the social event’s fourth edition, and in it, it aims to denounce working conditions and environmental impact within and caused by the electronics industry, with a particular focus on the chain of production and consumption. The program includes the projection of a documentary, round tables, and workshops.

Event to denounce “serious social and environmental impacts,” say organizers

The congress is called ‘Slavery 2.0. From the mine to the landfill,’ and it will take place on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 of February. But while the dates happen during the larger mobile-focused event, its objective isn’t to be the “anti-MWC,” or even to provide a “social side” to the congress.

Instead, the Mobile Social Congress proposes instead to provide a space to denounce the “serious social and environmental impacts” of the hegemonic model of the mobile industry as well as to act like “a loudspeaker” for experiences that promote “technological sovereignty and fair electronics,” said Laia Fargas of the NGO SETEM Catalonia that organizes the event.

MWC to include 77 Catalan companies and organizations in official space

Meanwhile, a record number of 77 Catalan companies, organizations and technology centers will be in the Catalan government space at this year's MWC, between them looking for new investment and partners, clients, greater visibility, and opportunities to open new markets.

At the mobile fair, the government will have three spaces with a total area of 1,000 square meters, which will primarily host SMES. As for start-ups, there will be 33 companies from Catalonia with stands in the 4YFN event, which runs alongside the main fair.

At the same time, the government's business promotion agency, ACCIÓ (Catalonia Trade & Investment in English), has invited 160 executives from non-tech industries to the fair, to look for opportunities for the digital transformation of their companies. Among the guests will be executives from the agriculture, health and retail sectors.

Mobile World Congress also set to draw controversy

The Mobile World Congress itself, running from February 25 to 28, is also set to draw controversy, as the King of Spain, Felipe VI, has announced he will attend the 2019 event in the Catalan capital.

As a response, the pro-independence CDR group has called a protest on Sunday, February 24, the day before the fair begins, to tell the monarch “he is not welcome,” and that Catalans are “not his subjects.” The protest is set to take place at the doors of the MNAC museum at 5pm.

For the 2018 edition of the fair, the monarch was greeted with protests and strong security measures, amid a tense situation following the Catalan declaration of independence and the Spanish implementation of Article 155 as a result. This year instead sees as a backdrop the start of the trial against the Catalan leaders.