Is ITU participating in the UNFCCC Conference of Parties and what ITU
can do to mobilize the ICT community?
It is now generally recognized that climate change is a major threat to
sustainable growth and development. No one can escape their responsibility to
help meet this challenge, and it was recognized four years ago that ITU has a
major role to play.
At Durban we have a real and reachable opportunity to help save the planet
through astute deployment of modern information and communication technologies
(ICTs). Studies clearly show that more effective use of ICTs can deliver
tremendous CO2 savings.
ITU, as the UN agency responsible for ICTs, and the global focal point for the
ICT sector is participating in the UNFCCC process and is raising awareness of
the positive role that ICTs can play in combating climate change.
I am confident that as more and more countries adopt international ICT standards
and include ICT as part of their environment plans – there will be a tremendous
opportunities in three major areas:
Firstly, as countries accelerate the take-up of innovative low-carbon solutions,
we will see whole sectors such as transportation, energy, buildings, and waste
disposal become cleaner, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly.
Second, there is the tremendous role that ICTs play in monitoring, reporting and
verification – both of the ICT sector itself and of course by using the power of
ICTs to monitor, record and analyze data.
And third, ICTs will play an increasingly important role in adapting to the
effects of climate change – from providing vital life-saving warnings ahead of
natural disasters and catastrophes, to providing vital communications links once
they have occurred.
In January 2011, I had the pleasure to welcome in my office a delegation from
Ghana, led by the Honourable Minister of Communications together with the
Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana.
ITU was asked to coordinate a project on “ICT and Climate Change in Ghana”. This
project builds on two pillars:
The first pillar which is led by EPA and sponsored by Vodafone Ghana will look
at “How telecommunications in Ghana can reduce their own GHG emissions” and will
pilot for the first time the ITU methodology on “Environmental Assessment for
the ICT Sector”.
The second pillar which is led by the Ministry of Communications and sponsored
by Research in Motion (BlackBerry) will look at “How Information and
Communications Technologies Can Help Countries To Adapt To The Effects Of
Climate Change: The Case Of Ghana”.
These are the first projects on “ICTs and Climate Change” to be carried out in
accordance with the UNFCCC guidelines and will be presented at COP-17.
In addition, ITU has recently been asked by GeSI to lead an ICT coalition that
will bring together key players to prepare a message to COP-17 on the great
potential that ICTs can play in addressing environmental issues and in
particular in combating climate change. We ask for your support for this
To an audience such as this, I hardly need to argue the benefits of ICTs in
terms of addressing climate change issues.
But it is not enough….
We must all act as ICT ambassadors, and clearly demonstrate to the wider world
why ICTs are not part of the problem but very much part of the solution.
Specific mention of the ICT sector, along with the adoption of an agreed
methodology for measuring the carbon footprint of ICT equipment, as being worked
out in ITU, and its inclusion in National Adaptation and Mitigation Plans, will
provide an incentive to the ICT industry to invest in developing countries, help
reduce the digital divide, and at the same time help fight climate change – a
It is not an easy task since the negotiators are all from environment and
foreign affairs ministries and, unlike our colleagues from the Ghana Environment
Ministry, many do not even knowing what ICTs stands for. So I encourage you all
to contact your national representatives responsible for negotiations at COP-17
in order to explain to them the benefits of recognizing the role of
telecommunications/ICTs in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate
change. ITU will be present at COP-17 and we will as I said be leading an ICT
coalition to lobby delegates and to present to them our arguments in
presentations and demonstrations. I invite you all to join us in this effort.