ICT, sustainability & climate change

Fri, 19/10/12

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released a new series of publications covering the fundamental role played by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a key infrastructure to reinforce environmental protection and promote resource efficiency and sustainability.

The reports, launched during the recent ITU Green Standards Wee, present issues such as smart grids, using submarine telecommunications cables for ocean and climate monitoring and disaster warning, using ICTs to support climate change adaptation and mitigation and adaptation in Ghana, among other issues.

All publications are available free of charge for download at www.itu.int/climate.  Here's a quick overview:

ITU and the Broadband Commission for Digital development released two reports focusing on the role of ICTs in climate change and environmental sustainability.

The first report, The Broadband Bridge. Linking ICT with climate action for a low-carbon economy, emphasizes the kind of transformative solutions that are enabled by broadband and provides practical examples of how this technology can contribute to reducing greenhouse gasses (GHGs), mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, and promoting resource efficiency. It concludes with 10 recommendations for policy makers and global leaders to hasten and strengthen the ability of ICT and broadband to accelerate global progress towards a low-carbon future.

Building on the findings and the recommendations of the Broadband Bridge, the case study A review of environmental sustainability in national broadband policies, is one of a series that report on broadband on the overall achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by focusing on MDG7, achieving environmental sustainability. Alongside a snapshot of where the world is today in terms of achieving MDG7, the study presents a review of the 119 existing broadband polices in terms of their environmental sustainability content. Finally, a detailed analysis of these policies is done through two case studies on Australia and Rwanda.


The report Boosting Energy Efficiency through Smart Grids details how ICTs help mitigate climate change by making energy management more efficient. ICTs can play a particularly crucial role especially in developing countries, helping to overcome the challenges posed by climate change through e-enabled adaptation and mitigation responses.



The contribution of Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and ICTs: the Case of Ghana is two-fold. First, it presents the potential of ICTs towards adaptation and mitigation through the concrete case of Ghana, illustrating the challenges and opportunities faced by developing countries in this field. Second, it complements this analysis by offering concrete lessons learned and practical suggestions aimed at developing country decision makers and practitioners, thus fostering the adoption of novel, ICT-supported approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation.


The importance of ICTs for environmental sustainability is the center of two additional reports highlighting the how green standards can ensure a sustainable future. In particular, the results of An Energy-aware Survey on ICT Device Power Supplies revealed that standards for the manufacture of external power supplies (EPS) could enhance their reliability and extend their lifecycle while decreasing their average weight by up to 30 per cent with the potential to eliminate 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. In addition, standardizing efficiency characteristics could reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of EPS by between 25 and 50 per cent.

On the same issue area, the Review of Mobile Handset Eco-Rating Schemes provides an overview of eco-rating schemes developed by the mobile handset industry to communicate and measure the sustainability and environmental performance of their products to consumers.



The role of a specific ICT technology in tackling climate change is analyzed in detail in three reports on Using Submarine Cables for Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning. The first of these reports Using Submarine Cables for Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Strategy and Roadmap presents a strategy and roadmap to move forward this vision of incorporating sensors into submarine cables.




The second report, Using Submarine Cables for Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Opportunities and Legal Challenges focuses on the legal framework, recognizing the newness of such uses of undersea telecommunications cables and the complexity of national and international legal-regulatory regimes, and examining opportunities and legal challenges arising from dual-purpose telecom-marine data cables for ocean and climate monitoring and disaster warning.



Finally, the report Using Submarine Cables for Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Engineering Feasibility Study investigates technical feasibility of modifying repeaters to support science instruments for incorporation into commercial telecom cables systems.




Three reports also focus on how to green the ICT sector. The Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability for the ICT Sector is an ITU-T initiative which provides detailed support on how ICT companies can build sustainability into the operations and management of their organizations, through the practical application of international standards and guidelines.




The second, more specific report, is meant to provide Guidance on Green ICT Procurement and the third one focuses on Greening ICT Supply Chains – Survey on Conflict Minerals Due Diligence Initiatives using a case study of deep international concern: the so-called Conflict Minerals issue, referring to minerals (namely tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, key inputs for ICT products) mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses in the African Great Lakes Region.


Unsustainable management of how minerals are accessed, extracted, processed and transported can irreversibly endanger the surrounding environment.

Categories: ICT