Video Message from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

Broadcast Media and Climate Change: a Public Service Remit
Paris, France
4 September 2009





Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change is the defining challenge of our times. Its impact threatens the very existence of life on earth. Several species of flora and fauna on this planet are already endangered. And every aspect of social and economic development faces upheaval, affecting the lives of countless millions worldwide.


Changing weather patterns are adding to the turbulence arising from the economic downturn and rising food shortages.


The shifting sands of desertification are spreading to even non-arid lands as rains evaporate and drought cuts across parched, barren fields.


Floods wreak havoc as unprecedented storms erode soils and rivers burst their banks.


Hurricanes and typhoons hit coastal areas with cyclonic force, devastating homes, wrecking lives, and leaving the economy in shambles.


Those who live in low-lying coastal areas and in Small Island Developing States are keenly aware of the dangers of rising sea levels as glaciers melt and the polar ice caps shrink.


Hungry, thirsty, homeless, vulnerable, frightened, unemployed and poor — these are the real faces of climate change.


Broadcast networks have brought this stark reality into our homes. Painting a dismal picture in its true colours, they have brought attention to the growing dangers of climate change and the factors that have contributed to its global impact. In no small measure, this global awareness of the perils of climate change has positively influenced the debate taking place in the corridors of government and industry.


For many of us, the climate change debate is no longer a debate; it is a fact that we have to deal with. It is no longer a question of pointing fingers or offering excuses. It is a matter of putting our collective weight behind saving the planet from the ravages of climate change.


At ITU, we aim to harness the potential of information and communication technologies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the forces of climate change. ICTs are seen as solutions to foster green technologies and reduce the carbon footprint of all sectors of the economy.


As one of the key responses to climate change, ITU provides the necessary radio-frequency spectrum, orbit resources and technical standards for environment monitoring, early warning and emergency telecommunication systems.

 

ITU advocates the use of smart technologies to enable the development of intelligent transport systems, vehicles and building technologies, creating efficiencies in supply chain management and improving communications.


ICTs are already contributing to de-materialization, replacing “atoms” with “bits”: electronic publications instead of paper; web-based electronic multimedia instead of DVDs and CDs; and wireless Radiocommunications that “de-materialize” even the wire!


While providing several solutions to mitigate climate change, ICTs are also part of the problem.


With the proliferation of ICT users, the increasing number of data centres and a trend towards “always-on” usage and “stand-by” modes, ICTs now contribute about 2.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.


ITU is focused on greening the ICT sector by significantly reducing ICT energy consumption. New components, algorithms, protocols, software and next-generation telecommunication system structures are being developed. And we have begun at home by gradually creating a paperless environment at ITU.


Together with UNEP, ITU supports an initiative of ICT service providers and suppliers called the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, aimed at developing ICT policies and strategies for the harmonized co-existence of human interaction with the environment.


As you may know, ITU is also at the forefront of facilitating broadcasters around the world through the allocation of radio-frequency spectrum and the development of new standards to increase outreach, such as WiMAX technologies that enable multiple wireless broadband Internet services, Internet Protocol TV (or IPTV), as well as digital terrestrial and mobile TV. I am proud to say that ITU’s H.264 Recommendation, the highly efficient compression standard to deliver high resolution video, recently received an Emmy award in Hollywood.

 

Coming just three months ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this international conference on broadcast media and climate change is a reminder to us all that we have no option but to “seal the deal” in December.


ITU and UNESCO are complimentary in this endeavour, with UNESCO providing the content and ITU providing the technical support for it. I am proud of the very strong collaboration between our two organizations. Together we can meet the global challenges that confront us.


I wish you all success in using the powerful medium of broadcast technologies to spread awareness of the urgent issues that confront us and the next steps required to fight climate change.


Thank you.