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ITU pushes for role of ICTs to be recognized in Copenhagen Agreement

Announcement made at pioneering virtual symposium

Geneva, 28 September 2009 — ITU has declared its intention to press for the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a cross-sectoral tool to combat climate change to be recognized in the upcoming Copenhagen Agreement.

The announcement was made during the first ever Virtual International Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change. ITU, together with the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), successfully hosted the symposium which heralds a new – and green – era of international events, offering many of the benefits of physical participation without the environmental costs. Over 500 people participated from around 50 countries, with speakers and moderators from China, India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

ITU has been very active in negotiations to promote the important role that ICTs can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change. As the UN specialized agency for ICTs, ITU is also participating in meetings in Bangkok and Barcelona where preparation of the Copenhagen Agreement is taking place, in order to have the critical importance of ICTs recognized in the final text.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon previously underlined ITU’s role in meeting one of the most important challenges facing mankind: "ITU is one of the very important stakeholders in the area of climate change," he said.

Technical support for the event was provided by Korea’s Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA), with social media tool Twitter used to facilitate extra dialogue during ‘virtual coffee breaks’.

In his opening remarks, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, speaking from UN headquarters in New York, thanked Korea for hosting the event, noting: "Korea… can be proud, I believe, in having dedicated some 80 per cent of the national USD 38 billion fiscal stimulus package to green measures – the highest percentage in the world. Nearly a million green jobs will be created in Korea in the next four years."

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, closing the event, said: "By harnessing the power of ICTs we have saved hundreds of tons of CO2. When we consider that every week there are international conferences involving thousands of participants, virtual events such as this would have a huge impact on emissions."

Participants at the virtual event agreed that global effort to combat climate change should not impede the economic and social growth of developing countries and that bridging the digital divide and bringing the benefits of ICTs to all citizens is fundamental to tackling climate change. They recognized that while developing countries are minor contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they are often victims of the extreme weather events and other negative impacts of climate change.

ITU launched a major initiative in 2008 to better understand the relationship between ICTs and climate change, with global symposia and work cutting across all sectors.

ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) has recently pioneered an internationally agreed methodology for calculating the impact of ICTs on GHG emissions over their entire life cycle. The newly-formed ITU-T Study Group 5 on ‘Environment and Climate Change’ is converting this methodology into a formal global standard. In addition, before work on any new standard in ITU is started an environmental check list is applied, to ensure that equipment and services that are built to ITU standards are truly green.

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is meanwhile focusing on monitoring and advanced remote sensing systems for better climate information. This was the subject of a recent joint seminar with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the use of radio spectrum for meteorology, aimed at weather, water and climate monitoring and prediction.

And through its Development Sector (ITU-D), ITU is supporting actions by developing countries to slow the growth of their emissions with capacity building exercises demonstrating the critical role of ICTs.

ITU is also setting an example in its work methods with increasing use of electronic working tools, including conference calls and remote collaboration, and paperless meetings.

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Senior Media Relations Officer

Tel: +41 79 599 1439
Toby Johnson
Senior Communications Officer
Tel: +41 22 730 5877
Mobile: +41 79 249 4868

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Updated : 2009-09-28