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Question 15/5

Question 15/5 – ICTs and adaptation to the effects of climate change
(Continuation of Question 23/5)


Information Communication Technologies (ICT) can be effective in enabling countries to better adapt to climate change . Adaptation involves taking action to tolerate the effects of climate change on a local, country, regional and international level. Examples include remote sensing for monitoring of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tidal waves, and improved communications to help deal with natural disasters more effectively.

To be effective in this role the telecommunications infrastructure and associated ICT must be resilient to the effects of climate change. The ICT sector itself must therefore be taken into consideration when considering adaptation to climate change.

ICTs in general, and satellite and surface-based remote sensors in particular, are already the main tools for environmental observation, climate monitoring and provide data for climate change prediction on a global basis. The modern disaster prediction, detection and early warning systems based on the use of ICT are essential for saving lives and should be provided where needed including developing countries. ICT are making available vital information on the changing environment to the mass population who need capacity building i.e. information and education and help to sustain basic needs such as food and water. Ideally this would be achieved through green technologies such as mobile devices and base stations powered by solar energy.

ICT can be part of the solution to climate change, in particular by helping both developed and developing countries adapt to the negative effects of climate change using ICT based systems monitoring weather and the environment worldwide. Therefore Q.23/5 conducted a survey on existing technologies and standards used by different countries in adaptation to climate change, in cooperation with ITU-D Study group 2 Question 24/2 dedicated to “ICT and climate change” and ITU-T Q.22/5 dedicated to “Setting up a low cost sustainable telecommunication infrastructure for rural communications in developing countries”. The survey illustrated that while many countries have used diverse ICT and tools for adaptation, best practices are not shared on a regular basis and knowledge transfer and sharing on the level of ICT is lacking or fragmented.

This conclusion coincides with the conclusions of the UNFCCC which asserted that while in the past adaptation mandates tended to include activities of limited duration, there is a need to move towards consolidation and defragmentation. The establishment of the Adaptation Committee, and the consolidation of the consideration of overall funding under a unified umbrella of the Green Climate Fund, promises to move the adaptation regime progressively towards being more consolidated and less fragmented. This development is to be mirrored at regional and national levels, where regional centres and networks as well as national-level institutional arrangements are to be established and/or designated to enhance coordination and cooperation on the full range of adaptation actions” .

Whether we exchange voice, data or video messages, communications cannot take place without telecommunication equipment and associated standards linking the sender and the receiver. Communications systems and the work of this Question extends well beyond the traditional areas of telephony to encompass a far wider range of ICT. ITU-T Study Group 5 is responsible, inter alia, for publishing guidelines for using ICT in an eco-friendly way. This Question will tackle the following questions in order to bring together, develop and disseminate knowledge and the results of research so that ICT sector can play its full part in adaptation to climate change.

The following Recommendation, in force at the time of approval of this Question, falls under its responsibility:

  • None.


Study items to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the best practices for countries to enable adaptation to climate change?
  • What is the impact of climate change on the ICT sector and the potential for adaptation?
  • How can ICT, including fibre submarine cable networks, be used more effectively to monitor the global environment/ecosystem and provide tsunami warnings? And what new standards and best practices are required?
  • How can ICT be used and adapted to more effectively disseminate information on both natural and man-made disasters (e.g. early warning) to communities (e.g. supporting GDACS under the UN framework)?
  • How is ICT used in gathering, processing and disseminating information about climate change?
  • How can ICT be used to improve food and water security? What standards are needed in these areas? This cross-sectoral work should be in collaboration with other UN agencies and organizations as appropriate.
  • How can ICT and standards be used and developed to be more effective in helping communities to adapt to climate change especially in developing countries and particularly in key sectors such as water management, etc.?
  • What ICT and standards are used to disseminate information to enable farmers to better forecast crop yields and production?
  • How can ICT be used to monitor deforestation and forest degradation and what standards are available or need development?
  • How can ICT be used to reduce CO2e emissions by better waste management through a ‘cradle to cradle’, i.e. ‘closed loop’ approach whereby more efficient recycling means fewer raw materials need to be mined?
  • What are the gaps in technologies and standards needed for ICT to be used to increase energy supply efficiency and maximize the use of renewable sources?
  • How can ICT best be used in education? How can they be used to raise awareness on climate change? What standards are required in this area?


Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Produce a Recommendation on: Best practices for countries to use ICT in adapting to the effects of climate change;
  • Produce a Recommendation on: Adapting the ICT sector and infrastructure to the impacts of climate change;
  • Produce a Recommendation on how submarine repeaters equipped with scientific sensors can be used for climate monitoring and disaster risk detection;
  • Produce a ‘web site map’ to identify the types of ICT and standards which are available for adaptation to climate change, propose improvements and facilitate more effective use of these;
  • Develop an ICT and Climate Change portal based on the recommendation that would include best practices on ICT and Climate Change. The portal would provide Member States and Sector Members with first hand consolidated information about existing ICT that would assist in better and more cost effective planning and information sharing;
  • Coordinate with other SGs, ITU-R, ITU-D and other bodies on a regular basis to collaborate effectively.

An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the SG 5 work programme (use URL as shown in the table below).




  • None


  • 14/5

Study Groups:

  • ITU-T SGs 9, 13, 15 and 16
  • ITU-D SGs
  • ITU-R SGs

Standardization bodies:

  • ISO, ETSI, UNFCCC, UNEP, FAO, UN-REDD Programme (avoiding forest degradation), WMO, UNESCO IOC, UN-Water and UN-Habitat on sustainable water supplies.