Committed to connecting the world

Radiocommunications and Climate Change

The recent economic crisis shows the crucial role of efficient and productive use of limited natural resources, such as biomass, biosphere, mineral resources, and water to stimulate sustainable economic development. Climate change has been labelled as the "defining challenge of our time". Its impact is already evident and will intensify over time if left unaddressed. There is overwhelming scientific evidence, that climate change will threaten economic growth, long term prosperity and social welfare of practically all countries, as well as the very survival of the most vulnerable populations.

ICTs and radiocommunications in particular are essential tools in the combat against climate change. Areas foreseen in this context include: continued observations and long-term monitoring of solar activity to improve our knowledge and understanding of the influence of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun on Earth´s environment, including climate; continued observations to characterize changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface, and the use of such information for climate change modelling; and continued observations of the change in the ozone layer and its effects on the environment and human health. Land cover change assessment and understanding of its dynamics are recognized as essential requirements for sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, food security, climate change and humanitarian programmes. Terrestrial and satellite radiocommunication systems contribute to the monitoring of carbon emissions, the changing of ice in polar caps and glaciers, and temperature changes. Another key aspect is the application of modern radiocommunication system's to increase productivity, optimize energy consumption and reduce transportation costs leading to reduced levels of CO2 emissions.

François Rancy
Director, Radiocommunication Bureau

ITU-R mission

ITU-R creates the regulatory and technical bases for the development and effective operation of satellite and terrestrial climate monitoring and data dissemination systems. It does so by: allocating the necessary radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources; analysing compatibility between new and existing satellite systems; carrying out studies and developing international standards for space-based and other radiocommunication systems and networks; and providing guidance and support on the use of satellite and terrestrial systems for environmental monitoring, and for prediction and mitigation of the negative effects of disasters caused by climate change. Table below specifies scope of ITU-R studies for Climate Change:

​ActivitiesMajor tasks ​Radiocommunication involved
​​​​Monitoring the    environment

​Satellite observations of the Earth's atmosphere and surface
The acquisition, processing, analysis and distribution of data from remote sensing satellites

​Earth exploration-satellites
Meteorological satellite

​Space operation
​Solar radio monitoring

Sapce research

​ ​ ​Ground observation of atmosphere characteristic​Meteorological aids
​Mobile systems
​Other applications

Construction optimisation
Traffic optimisation
Energy, water and fuel savings
Planting decision, irrigation planning
Disseminating alert messages, coordination of relief activities and advice to public​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

​Earth exploration-satellites
​Mobile systems

ITU-R provides "life blood" for development of any radiocommunication system and its work is paramount to the successful operation of any radio application. During his visit to ITU headquarters (June 2007), the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon remarked that "ITU is one of the most important stakeholders in terms of climate change".


The 2012 World Radiocommunication conference ( - WRC-12 - ) recognized the importance of Earth observation radiocommunication applications. As a result, the conference reinforced ITU´s mandate to allocate the necessary radio frequencies and orbit resources. In addition, it advised to approve the international standards for the interference-free operation of applications and radio communications systems used for climate monitoring, weather forecasting, remote sensing and disaster prediction and detection. Key outcomes of the conference included:


Radiocommunication Assembly 2012 ( - RA-12 - ) adopted a number of Resolutions asking ITU-R to conduct appropriate studies, in particular:


Adopted - WRC-15 - agenda includes a number of items, covering Climate change and Emergency communication issues, particularly: