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 Wednesday, 03 September 2008

The ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau launched the study report "ICTs for e-Environment - Guidelines for Developing Countries, with a Focus on Climate Change", which is intended to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to mitigate and adapt to environmental change, including climate change, through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Although ICTs require energy resources, they also offer a number of opportunities to advance global environmental research, planning and action. This includes monitoring and protecting the environment as well as mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. The report also looks extensively at the use of ICTs in many different aspects of work on the environment, including environmental observation, analysis, planning, management and protection, mitigation and capacity building.

In order to assess the adoptability of selected ICT applications for environmental management in developing countries in general, the report proposes a ranking system with parameters such as (a) environmental scope, (b) technology, (c) transferability, and (d) impact.

Furthermore, the ICTs for e-Environment report considers over 150 ICT applications in one of its annexes, including the name of the ICT applications, description, area of work, sponsor, region, active dates, and relevant web references.  

Not all countries have the capacity to take advantage of these technologies in order to use the full potential of ICTs for environmental action. The report states that there is a clear need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to global environmental action through access to ICTs and the use of information technologies and management practices to eliminate duplication of efforts. This can be done by consolidating action at national levels on the many and varied environmental conventions and initiatives that developing countries have already agreed to in principle. ICTs provide a unique opportunity to do so while assisting in building local capacity to use these tools and practices.

There is also a need to assign the environment a more important profile in ICT strategic planning initiatives at the national level and, in particular, in e‑Governance and e-Goverment initiatives so that the use of ICTs for the environment is integrated into planning processes from the beginning, along with other national priorities and initiatives.

The report proposes a methodology to undertake rapid national e‑Environment assessments as well as to develop and implement national e‑Environment strategies. Among other proposals, the report recommends the preparation of an e‑Environment toolkit comprised of best practices as one practical method to assist developing countries to take advantage of ICTs for environmental research, planning and action. Strengthening ongoing research activities is another proposal as well as placing more focus on the environment sector in e‑Government initiatives. Working on a regional basis may be the best approach for smaller, landlocked or island jurisdictions, such as small island developing states.

Whatever approach is taken to support the use of ICTs for environmental action in sustainable development, it must be undertaken in close collaboration with key development partners at the national and international level and in consultation with actors in the public and private sectors as well as civil society.