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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

ITU Green Standards Week: High Level Segment “Greening the Economy through ICT Standards”

Paris, France, 19 September 2012

Opening Address

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this High level Segment of the Green Standards Week with the theme “Greening the Economy through ICT Standards”. We are privileged to have a distinguished set of speakers and I would like to thank them for taking the time from their busy schedules to be with us this morning.

In addition I would like to thank our hosts Microsoft and co-organizers Tech America. And our sponsors Orange, Telefonica, Fujitsu and Huawei.

As we have all seen from satellite photos, the top of the world has undergoing a transformation this summer. The Arctic ice pack, a primary indicator of climate change, has shrunk in recent weeks to an extent that no computer model and few scientists had thought possible.

Scientists are striving to understand the complex consequencial effects — from shifting weather patterns to displaced marine species — that the accelerating retreat could trigger.

In my capacity as Director of the Standardization Bureau of ITU, the lead UN Agency for Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), our mission is to connect the world, and connect it in a sustainable way.

ICTs now permeate our lives – the mobile phone ownership in this room must be near 100%; the tablet and portable laptop ownership cannot be far behind.

The incredible growth in ICTs has many different implications. Unless we manage to get in place intelligent standards for energy efficient devices, the strong growth of ICTs also means strong growth in the power needed to run ICTs.

However, the cross-cutting nature of ICTs permeating our all aspects of our lives – as well as our industries – means that introducing and using energy-efficient ICTs could deliver huge energy savings and reductions in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions all at once.

The power of ICTs can be brought to bear on climate change in many different ways – better traffic, water and energy management; improved logistics; and food security; reduction of the need to travel and the digitalization of goods.

Part of the role of a standardization organization is to be able to bring together the different actors involved in the standards-making process. At ITU, we strive to bring together all our members: 193 governments and over 700 private sector entities, academia, civil society and NGOs.

And this is why we have a vital role to play as standards organizations. Technologies such as smart grid, smart water management, intelligent transport systems, e-health, e-government, cannot be rolled out effectively without harmonization and government backing for international ICT standards.

Ladies and gentlemen, we saw at COP-17 last year in Durban an emphasis on robust measurement, reporting and verification mechanisms.

At ITU, our study group on environment and climate change (ITU-T Study Group 5) has adopted methodologies allowing internationally agreed measurement and reporting of GHG emissions from ICTs, as well as the estimation of the reductions in GHG emissions from other industry sectors that can be achieved through the use of energy-efficient ICTs.

This set of methodologies can be used to demonstrate how energy-efficient ICTs meeting international standards can concretely help mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Armed with this proof, developing countries should we hope be able to get more funding for the implementation of ICT projects. Bridging the digital divide and addressing climate change…. a win-win scenario, I am sure you will agree.

But it’s not just developing countries that can benefit. If countries are to reach targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions then the implementation of standards such as this and our best practices for data centres will be important tools.

The percentage reductions in GHG emissions that the climate experts consider necessary can only be achieved by application of ICTs.

I am very pleased to say that we now have recognition of this at the international level.

Rio+20, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development recognized in its outcome document the critical role of ICTs in accelerating the implementation of sustainable development commitments.

The Rio+20 outcome document has been agreed by UN Member States. It defines the key principles that will guide the international community in the upcoming years to move the sustainable development agenda forward.

ITU plans to fully integrate the main principles of this document into its activities.

It is only by obtaining the hard evidence, by influencing policy outcomes and by developing and adopting environmentally friendly policies and standards in the ICT sector and beyond that we can preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.

The full potential of ICTs is achieved through global connectivity. Ensuring interoperability is one of the main purposes of the ITU. The only truly global treaty on international telecommunications is going to be revised for the first time in 24 years at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai this December. A proposal has been made (by Ghana) to add a provision to this treaty known as the International Telecommunication Regulations addressing energy consumption and e-waste. This proposed the following new prevision: Member States shall cooperate to encourage operating agencies and industry to adopt energy efficient international standards and best practices including disclosure and labelling schemes, so as to reduce energy consumption and e-waste.

If adopted by the conference this will be the first time these two concerns have been expressed in an international treaty on telecommunications and it will show that the ITU Member States are also committed to addressing these critical issues.

I strongly encourage all participants here to work towards an outcome that can provide useful input as we move forward to WCIT in December.

Finally I should also note that just before WCIT and also in Dubai, the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) will take place. Resolution 73 on ICTs and climate change will also be subject to revision at this event.

I very much hope the conclusion of these discussions today will give increased impetus to ITU’s efforts in this important area.

Thank you very much.

As you know the first Green Standards Week was hosted by Telecom Italia in Rome last year and supported by the Ministry of Economic Development.

I am very pleased therefore to welcome Mauro Fazio, Head of International Relations in the Ministry to give us a keynote address on behalf of H.E. Mr Corrado Passera, Minister of Economic Development.

Please welcome Mauro.