Todays advanced technologies can transform social, industrial and business processes to effect the changes needed to achieve sustainability. But while the potential of ICTs to make a real difference is widely recognized by the technology community and government ICT ministries, it is still far from being understood and embraced by environmental lobby groups and policymakers.
ITU and its partners will be using COP 17 to promote ICTs as the 21st centurys most valuable problem-solving tools. ITU believes it imperative that they be included as an integral part of global climate change policy.
To this end, ITU and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) have initiated the Global Coalition on ICT and Climate Change to send a coordinated message to the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference. Organizations in the coalition include the UNFCCC Secretariat, the UN Global Compact, TechAmerica, as well as high-level representatives from the governments of Ghana, South Africa and Egypt.
The coalitions message is simple: ICTs such as smart grids, intelligent transport systems and the internet of things have extraordinary potential to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of other high energy-consuming industry sectors, and must be included in any meaningful climate change policies at the global, regional and national level. As a proof point, the coalition is also showcasing how the ICT industry is using technology to reduce its own carbon footprint.
Dr Hamadoun Tour, ITU Secretary General: It is imperative that our massively inter-connected world also becomes a greener, more sustainable world. Smart technologies will help to bridge the digital divide and improve the lives of millions billions, even of people. Look at the benefits which can be achieved with intelligent transport systems, or through the digitization of goods, processes and services. We need to move now to take advantage of the powerful tools already in our hands.
The COP 17 programme
During the 10-day conference, the coalition will undertake a number of initiatives to get the message across. An ICT booth hosted by ITU will showcase presentations on ICT and the environment, and two new ITU reports will be presented showing how ICTs have helped Ghana mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
UNFCCC will stage an ICT Day on the 1st of December, and will host a Virtual Participation Centre with video conferences, presentations, exhibits and interactive private sector participation. In addition, two side events will focus exclusively on the role of ICTs in environmental sustainability: ICTs and Adaption, organized by UNFCCC, and ICTs and Mitigation co-organized by TechAmerica and GeSI, and including contributions from ITU and UNFCCC.
Completing the suite of green ICT events, on the 5th of December GeSI will launch the Transformative Step of the Day, highlighting transformative ICT solutions put forward during the COP-17 negotiations.