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ITU Green Standards Week: Forum “Mapping E-Waste to Address Future Challenges”

Paris, France, 18 September 2012

Opening Address

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this Forum on Environmental Sustainability on behalf of ITU and our partners CEDARE and the United Nations University.

The widespread use of electrical and electronic equipment has drastically improved our lives.

However the negative environmental and health effects associated with the inefficient management of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) are now causing major problems in many developing countries.

The ICT equipment market is characterized by high demand and churn, resulting in short product life cycles.

Redundant devices are sold to developing countries but, with many imports not fit for use or recycling, many countries today face a great challenge in the growing volumes of e-waste.

Studies in Ghana carried out under the Basel Convention's e-waste Africa programme, revealed that in 2009 around 70 per cent of all imports were second-hand electrical and electronic equipment.

However around 30 per cent, was determined to be non-functioning, and should have been defined as waste.

The enormous resource value of end of life electrical and electronic equipment is widely overlooked. This equipment can contain up to 60 different rare metals. However - due to deficiencies in collection methods, recycling technologies, and illegal dumping - the majority of these valuable resources are lost.

The failure to close the loop on e-waste leads not only to adverse environmental effects, but also the depletion of these valuable resources.

So, it is critical to identify the key factors to successfully minimize and control e-waste.

Participants at the 7th ITU Symposium on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change in Montreal in May this year issued a Declaration promoting a life-cycle approach in the design of ICTs. This requires taking into account how to recycle components in a device. Reducing e-waste and providing incentives and encouragement for e-waste take-back schemes were just some of the issues included in the Declaration.

ITU-T has produced a number of specifications aiming to tackle e-waste.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1000 “Universal power adapter and charger solution for mobile terminals and other ICT devices”, is dramatically reducing the need to produce mobile chargers and will ultimately ensure that fewer end up as e-waste. New work seeks to extend this to other devices.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1100, details the procedures to be employed when recycling rare metal components in ICT equipment.

Furthermore, ITU-T has produced a document on End of Life management as part of the ITU Toolkit for Environmental Sustainability for the ICT Sector.

Our partners in this session UNU and CEDARE were among over 50 organizations assisting ITU in this initiative.

The toolkit includes a definition of end of life management of ICT equipment, and a checklist that assists an organization in creating a framework for environmentally sound management of end of life equipment.

Compliance and enforcement of legislation must be supported with capacity building and technology transfer to developing countries, along with the implementation of international standards.

In this session we will look at what can be done to solve this very pressing issue. We have excellent speakers and moderators and I am sure it will be very informative session.

To start I am very pleased to invite Hoda Baraka, First Deputy to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt to give our keynote address.

Egypt has been very supportive of ITU’s climate change activities including having hosted our 2010 symposium, and will be hosting our first event on smart water management early next year.

So please welcome Hoda.