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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

ITU Green Standards Week: ITU-EC Forum on “Greener Smarter Better Cities”

Paris, France, 17 September 2012

Opening Address

Distinguished participants, Ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome.

At the start of this, second, Green Standards Week I would first like to thank our hosts Microsoft and co-organizers Tech America. In addition I would like to express gratitude to our sponsors Orange, Telefonica, Fujitsu and Huawei.

This is the first of 8 events packaged into this week. We have an extremely interesting programme with many eminent speakers and moderators. I am pleased to see so many of you present. I am sure you will find it very interesting, informative and enjoyable.

This first session is jointly organized with the European Commission and we are very grateful for the excellent collaboration we have had with the EC over the past few years on environmental issues and with Collette Maloney in particular.

With up to 70 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas, and cities accounting for 60-80% of global energy consumption, ICTs contribution to making the cities of the future cleaner, safer and better places to live is extremely important and the subject of this session.

ICTs can help manage smart buildings that power themselves and then feed energy back into the electricity grid, a smart grid providing much more efficient distribution. We will hear more about smart grids this afternoon.

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) can clear our cities of debilitating pollutants and traffic jams. Electric cars can act as distributed energy storage in network downtime. Sensor networks and artificial intelligence will be embedded in the physical environment of our cities.

Cloud computing offers to power many of these applications and ITU, through its standardization work, is bringing interoperability to the various emerging cloud solutions.

Urban broadband access will help to create a level playing field of opportunities for everyone, providing teleworking, enabling more flexible and efficient working conditions, and reducing traffic congestion.

The fibre optic networks that carry the vast majority of global communications interoperate thanks to standards agreed at ITU.

The growth of the Internet would not have been possible without these broadband standards.

So ICTs clearly have a major role to play and can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At ITU, one of the problems identified at our first symposium on ICTs and climate change in 2008 was the lack of a uniform assessment methodology for the footprint of ICTs. We have since developed a set of methodologies to this end, and in progress are methodologies specifically designed to assess the environmental impact of ICT in cities or other urban areas.

These can be used to provide a baseline GHG emission figure which can be periodically updated to track progress on emissions reduction. We will have a special training session on these methodologies on Thursday.

E-waste is a major problem especially in many developing countries and which we will address tomorrow. One of ITU’s most high-profile successes in recent years was a universal charger standard for mobile phones. This standard has the support of all the major vendors and is already coming onto the market. Since it defines the end connectors to the mobile and the charger, and has virtually zero off-load energy consumption, this standard alone is estimated to save 13.6 million tones of Co2 and 84,000 tones of e-waste a year.

Several new ITU reports provide a solid background to the Green Standards Week agenda.

These reports show in practical ways how the ICT sector can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Information and communication technologies and climate change adaptation and mitigation: The case of Ghana” outlines approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing countries.

An energy-aware survey on ICT device power supplies presents the results of a study of more than 300 commercially available adapters, both for ICT and non-ICT use.

A Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability for the ICT Sector, developed with over 50 partners including ICT industry and academia, gives real-life examples of ways in which ICT companies can build sustainability into their operations and management.

Guidance on green ICT procurement sets out a step-by-step procurement process, detailing green principles to be applied when procuring goods, products and services.

Greening ICT supply chains — Survey on conflict minerals due diligence initiatives reviews the various due diligence initiatives relating to conflict minerals, and looks at the way the ICT industry is managing its supply chain in that context.

As more focus is put on the overall sustainability of our lifestyle choices, a number of companies have responded by providing consumers with information on the eco-impact of the products they buy and use. Review of mobile handset eco-rating schemes highlights the pros and cons of the different kinds of schemes that major telecommunication companies are implementing.

Boosting energy efficiency through Smart Grids outlines how ICT help mitigate climate change by building a more controllable and efficient energy system.

Three of these reports discuss using submarine cables for climate monitoring and disaster warning.

A Strategy and Roadmap outlines the main technical, commercial, financial and legal matters that need to be resolved to develop a cable infrastructure capable of performing the dual tasks of telecommunication and monitoring.

Opportunities and Legal Challenges explains how the deployment, operation, and maintenance of submarine telecommunication cables with scientific sensors have been considered separately under international and national laws, and highlights the legal obstacles.

An Engineering Feasibility Study shows that undersea fibre-optic cable systems offer the stable and reliable platform that long-term data collecting requires.

So let me thank all the authors of these reports, many of them leading experts from ITU’s new academic membership, for their invaluable insights.

ITU’s members – a public/private partnership on 193 governments and over 700 private sector members, academia and civil society – have enabled all of this.

I am sure this week will illustrate that we have the technology to meet the next challenge of enabling sustainability across all sectors with one of the most powerful tools that we have at hand… ICTs.

Many of you will already be participating in this work and on behalf of myself and the Secretary General I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for this contribution. And for those of you that are not, I encourage you take part.

ITU is an open and contribution-driven organization. We welcome your support and ideas.

I look forward to a constructive debate this week and hope we can identify some of the key issues and target areas for future action.

Thank you.