SDG12 | SDG13
February 18, 2014

Shape the Green ICT agenda with ITU

By Cristina Bueti and Amanda Mc Intosh

Photo by Miriam Espacio

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential to business in every industry sector. The potential of ‘smart’ technologies to bring critical infrastructure to life – adding real-time communications capabilities to electricity grids, public transport systems, water management networks, and more – makes ICT an integral part of the route to efficiency and environmental sustainability in a wide array of fields.

The new ITU Global Portal on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change offers an index to external resources relevant to ITU’s areas of action in the ‘green ICT’ field, supplying a wealth of information to those interested in learning more about how ICTs are being leveraged to boost environmental sustainability.

Established in response to the revised WTSA Resolution 73 “ICTs, environment and climate change” (Dubai, 2012), the Global Portal provides links to prevailing labelling schemes, best practices in the disclosure of environmental impacts, and reputed recycling facilities; with other resources sharing ideas, research and best practices in areas including smart water management, smart sustainable cities, cloud computing, data centres, eco-friendly procurement, conflict minerals, supply-chain management, and e-waste.

As climate change has shifted the course of the global development agenda, ITU has taken a leading role in promoting the use of ICTs and green ICT standards to affect sustainable change.

Green ICT standards developed by ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) now include universal charging solutions, best practices capable of halving a data centre’s energy consumption, recycling methods for rare-metal components of ICTs, and methodologies to assess ICTs’ impacts on the environment and the energy and emissions savings enacted by ICTs in other  industry sectors.

Standards amount to internationally agreed technical means of improving energy efficiency, reducing waste and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, many countries have expressed interest in ITU’s universal charging solutions and methodologies to assess ICTs’ impacts on the environment as potential subjects of future national legislation.

Tackling e-waste’s adverse effects on the environment was one of the new priorities assigned to ITU’s standardization arm (ITU-T) by 2012’s World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) in Dubai, and 2013 saw new green ICT initiatives established in the form of ITU-T Focus Groups on Smart Sustainable Cities (FG-SSC) and Smart Water Management (FG-SWM) to explore the role of smart technologies and ICT standards in building eco-efficient urban environments and water management systems.

Targeted at jumpstarting standardization work on these topics in ITU-T Study Groups, FG-SSC and FG-SWM provide open platforms for dialogue and collaboration among academic and research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ICT organizations, policymakers, water authorities, and international and regional organizations.

FG-SWM will hold its second meeting at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 3-4 March 2014, followed by the fourth meeting of FG-SSC at the same venue, 5-6 March 2014. Participation in ITU-T Focus Groups is free of charge and open to all, and the time is always ripe to get involved!

More information on ITU-T’s work on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change can be found here…

Cristina Buetiis the Advisor of ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) and is responsible for ITU-T’s activities on ICTs and the environment with a special focus on smart sustainable cities, e-waste and smart water management.
Amanda Mc Intosh, a scholarship holder of the German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) esteemed Carlo-Schmid Programme, is an intern with ITU-T Study Group 5 specializing in water-management topics.
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Shape the Green ICT agenda with ITU

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