The first ITU Green Standards Week has ended with a call on international bodies, NGOs, standards bodies, governments, regulators, industry and academia to collaborate more closely on the application and development of information and communication technologies (ICT) standards to help combat climate change. Particular emphasis was placed on a globalized methodology to assess the environmental impact of ICTs, reducing e-waste, and the use of submarine cables for climate monitoring and disaster warning.
ITU has been working with industry and government members aiming to achieve agreement on an internationally recognized set of methodologies to be approved by the end of the year. Included is a methodology which ICT companies can use to measure their own carbon footprint, as well as a way to estimate the considerable savings in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy that can be achieved in other sectors through the use of ICTs.
A single global methodology will give credibility to the various claims currently being made about the benefits of ICTs in addressing climate change and energy issues.
“By adopting globally agreed standards – green standards – we will help to create a smarter, greener, planet; a planet which will be full of opportunity and potential and which will help the next generation reap tremendous rewards,” noted ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Toure in a press statement.
The increase in e-waste generated by the expanding use of ICT, and the decreasing life span of equipment, was highlighted by participants as an area of great concern, as was the export of e-waste to developing countries.
“Production of ICT equipment must minimize the use of toxic material, and be designed to have a longer life span. Standardization is important in achieving this. ITU’s universal charger is an excellent example of what can be achieved with international cooperation. E-waste that cannot be avoided must be recycled in an environmentally sound manner to extract valuable secondary raw materials,” said Malcolm Johnson, ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) director.
Two high-level segments gave prominent public and private sector voices the opportunity to discuss how the ICT industry’s climate change agenda may be promoted in the run-up to the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year.
The sessions advised on how ICT may aid in the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto protocol, how governments may set relevant and transparent policy objectives regarding ICT standards and the environment, as well as how governments and the ICT sector may effectively communicate and cooperate to achieve these goals.
Green Standards Week, jointly organized by ITU and the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, and hosted by Telecom Italia, took place in Rome from September 5 to 9 2011. The event was also supported by Huawei, Research In Motion, Alcatel Lucent, Cisco, VRM Italy and Microsoft. The goal was to raise awareness on the role of ICTs to promote environmental sustainability and in particular how standards can help to achieve this.
The body of the talks comprised three workshops: Methodologies for Environmental Impact Assessment of ICT, jointly organized with the European Commission; and Moving to a Green Economy through ICT Standards, jointly organized with Telecom Italia. The third workshop, Submarine Cables for Ocean/Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Science, Engineering, Business and Law was organized with WMO and UNESCO and proposed the use of submarine communication cables for ocean and climate monitoring and disaster warning.
Workshop participants called on ITU, UNESCO and WMO to establish and coordinate a joint task force composed of world renowned experts from science, engineering, business and law to intensify study on the use of submarine networks and to explore engineering and business potential in this realm.
Green Standards Week also awarded the winner of the first ITU Green ICT Application Challenge, a global competition organized by ITU and supported by Telefónica and Research In Motion to identify innovative apps that can help improve energy efficiency and combat climate change.
Designed by Lis Lugo Colls, from Spain, the application “Smart Recycling” aims to help mobile users locate recycling schemes and refuse bins within their area, and provide advice to consumers and local authorities on their effectiveness.