|Photo Credit: ©TonyWest-Alamy
ITU is an active participant in the United Nations
Climate Change Conference 2009, being held in
Copenhagen, Denmark, on 7–18 December. An ITU
delegation at the highest level will be present, indicating
the great importance the Union attaches to
meeting the challenge of climate change.
As the specialized United Nations agency for information
and communication technologies (ICT),
ITU has been asked by its Member States to raise
awareness of the critical role of ICT in addressing climate
change. This was decided unanimously by ITU’s
governing body, the Council, in October 2009 (see
the November 2009 issue of ITU News).
The digital revolution and the proliferation of ICT
worldwide have dramatically changed many people’s
lives, providing new opportunities and boosting
economic growth. Because of this, ICT themselves
are a growing contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.
But ICT are also an essential part of the solution.
Some estimates suggest that reductions of over
40 per cent in global emissions can be achieved by
2050 — five times as much as the sector itself will
This message about the vital nature of ICT is one
that ITU is determined to see included in the negotiating
texts at Copenhagen. There should be reference
to the ICT industry among the other industrial sectors
that must take action on mitigating and adapting
to climate change. And ICT must be included in
national, regional and global plans, giving the sector
an incentive to invest in meeting this major challenge
of our age.
Already, ITU has achieved some success in having
the role of ICT recognized in documents to
be considered at Copenhagen. And there will be
continuing efforts to make sure that the huge potential
of these technologies is understood by all
As part of its role in raising awareness, at
Copenhagen ITU will take part in the “iSeeT@
theKiosk”, an exhibition organized by the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC). There is a programme of talks by business
leaders in the ICT sector, from both developing and
ITU is also organizing a side event, in cooperation
with the World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO), on 10 December at the Copenhagen
Congress Centre. Under the theme “The effective
use of ICT and the intellectual property system for
mitigating climate change,” top decision-makers
from governments, international organizations and
industry will share their views, with a special focus
on how the intellectual property system can promote
the development of new technologies and improve
access to them.
Climate change and the digital divide — a call to action
ITU is fully engaged with the climate change issue.
Taking environmental concerns into consideration is
part of the process of developing ITU standards for
ICT equipment and networks. And together with
more than 20 organizations and major companies,
ITU is creating a common methodology for measuring
the environmental impact of ICT throughout its
lifecycle, both in terms of its own emissions and in
the savings to be made through using these technologies.
If the ICT sector is recognised at Copenhagen,
this methodology could be offered to the UNFCCC
to create a further incentive for the ICT industry to
invest in developing countries.
ITU wants to make sure that ICT is a clean technology
that helps to clean the planet.
ITU helps developing countries by assisting with
the transfer of such technology and with training to
strengthen human resources. Assistance is also provided
with designing emergency communications
and warning systems to deal with the effects of climate
change. And in collaboration with its membership,
ITU is identifying the necessary radio-frequency
spectrum for climate monitoring and disaster prediction
Within the broad area of ICT applications, ITU
promotes implementation of services such as e-government,
online education and e-health. These not
only reduce the carbon footprint, they make a significant contribution to people’s welfare and the closing
of the digital divide.
Bringing the benefits of the information society to
all citizens of the world is one of ITU’s fundamental
priorities. But it can only be achieved sustainably if
climate change is tackled effectively — and ITU will
continue to work towards ICT playing their full and
essential role in that critical work.