Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

WMO – World Climate Conference (WCC-3), High-Level Segment, 5th Plenary Session
Geneva, Switzerland
4 September 2009

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you here this morning, and to be able to participate in this High-Level Segment.

As the Secretary-General of ITU, the leading UN agency for ICTs, I am very positive about the establishment this week of an international framework to guide the development of climate-related services – and, in particular, more useful and accurate monitoring services.

The WCC-3 framework is a great help to us at ITU, as it clearly complements the legal framework and treaties adopted by our Member States – namely the World Radio Conference, the Radio Regulations and the ITU constitution and convention.

The framework is also valuable in emphasizing the vital role of ICTs in climate science, and as a cross-cutting tool to address climate change.

The continuously increasing use of ICTs for environmental and climate monitoring will greatly improve the quality of scientific data about the environment and the climate, and will lead to more accurate modeling and better estimates of the impact on climate change.

It will also have a direct impact on our ability to predict, prepare for and react to emergencies and disasters – an area where ITU already cooperates very closely with WMO.

ICTs are also essential in facilitating and improving the provision of accurate and timely climate information to different economic sectors – such as tourism, transport and agriculture.

ICTs are also a significant enabling technology in directly combating climate change. Although they currently contribute 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, ICTs can reduce emissions in other sectors by at least 15%.

ICTs – such as virtual conferencing tools – can help cut back on travel, and hence emissions, as well as the production of unnecessary paper.

And ITU’s work – particularly in the implementation of digital broadcasting and the development of next generation networks – is also itself directly helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Digital broadcasting, for example, results in a massive – almost ten-fold – reduction in the power consumption of broadcasting transmitters. And the actual number of transmitters can also be reduced by transmitting several programmes in one frequency channel.

Next generation networks, for their part, could reduce energy requirements by up to 40%, compared with today’s networks, through a combination of fewer switching centres, more modern equipment with multiple power modes, reduced requirements for air-conditioning, support for advance services, and more efficient routing of traffic.

Distinguished colleagues,

I am confident that ITU and WMO will continue to work closely together, within the context of the UN system, to ‘deliver as one’, with a principal focus on ICTs and climate change.

There are many reasons why this is so important, but let me single out one which is particularly close to my own heart: the commitment to human development which we made, as UN Members, in 2000, in setting the Millennium Development Goals.

The impact of climate change seems certain to offset the progress being made to meet the MDGs by 2015 – so it becomes all the more important to empower developing countries by facilitating their access to ICTs.

The ICTs which are needed not just for social and economic development, but which will also prove crucial for environmental and climate monitoring; for adapting to climate change itself; and for helping to reduce the risk and impact of disasters.

Thank you.