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GeSI launches exciting new partnership with the UNFCCC

Luis Neves | December 2, 2013

As the world faces increasing environmental challenges, the imperative for shifting economic development onto a green, resource efficient growth pathway is clear. According to GeSI’s SMARTer2020 report, ICT solutions have the potential to reduce global greenhouse emissions by 9.1 GtCO2e by 2020 – that’s a huge 16.5% reduction.

To increase awareness about the massive opportunity presented by ICT, GeSI has partnered with the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat on their Momentum for Change program. Momentum for Change seeks to inspire accelerated action on climate change by shining light on climate actions that are already achieving impacts on the ground. The initiative takes advantage of the high visibility afforded to the annual climate negotiations to create a highly prominent platform on which the activities are publicised. Through this partnership, GeSI and the ICT sector will be able to inform governments, civil society, the private sector, media and the public at large about the huge role that ICT can play in helping to solve the climate crisis.

We launched this exciting new partnership at COP19 in Warsaw last month with a panel including UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figuères, senior government officials and GeSI members including Ericsson, BT and Deutsche Telekom. Panellists discussed the opportunities and the challenges for ICTs to contribute to green growth and touched on the potential activities that Momentum for Change will look to highlight at the next COP20 in Lima, Peru.

Opportunities abound when we look at the potential of ICT to reduce emissions. ICT enabled solutions can help with the integration of renewables, off-grid electricity storage, optimisation of logistics networks, route planning, efficient livestock management, smart farming and smart design and building management. And these are only just the tip of the iceberg!

A key barrier to the increased uptake of ICT enabled solutions highlighted during the panel continues to be the lack of awareness amongst policy and decision makers about the enormous potential that ICT presents. This has a significant impact on policy development and limits the potential for broad scale uptake. Other challenges faced around the world include high upfront costs for renewables, building management systems, smart farming technologies and transportation infrastructure as well as lack of supportive regulatory environments and low incentives for people to change their entrenched behaviours.

By increasing awareness of ICT enabled solutions and the significant potential to reduce emissions amongst policy and decision makers we can help to facilitate supportive policies that will enable innovation and positive change. Likewise by increasing awareness amongst consumers about the value that ICT offers beyond the traditional uses (i.e. phone calls, texts and emails) we can drive real change.

We hope that the Momentum for Change program will help with this by highlighting a broad range of ICT enabled solutions in practice across the 6 sectors that were identified in the Smarter 2020 report. When applications open in Spring next year it would be great to see actions from both developed and developing countries – showing that ICT can make a big difference regardless of the level of development. We want to see on the ground, real tangible activities ranging from renewable energy integration, smart farming, automation in manufacturing, innovative e-commerce solutions and smart building management - real results enabled by ICT. Keep an eye out on the GeSI website in the coming months for more information.

Finally - whilst the above focuses on the potential of ICT to reduce global emissions – the international climate negotiations must not be forgotten. Key takeouts from the COP19 meeting include[1]:

  • Countries agreed to initiate or intensify domestic preparation for national contributions towards the 2015 agreement, which will come into force from 2020.
  • The conference decided to establish an international mechanism to provide vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels.
  • Governments provided more clarity on mobilizing finance to support developing country actions to curb emissions and adapt to climate change. The Green Climate Fund Board will commence its initial resource mobilisation process, with developing countries asking that funding/contributions be made before COP20 to enable implementation to start as soon as possible.
    • The conference agreed a multi-billion dollar framework to tackle deforestation. The Green Climate Fund will play a key role in channelling finance for projects to halt deforestation to host governments, who in turn must set up national agencies to oversee the money.
    • 48 of the poorest countries of the world finalised a set of plans to deal with climate impacts and build resilience. The Climate Technology Centre and Network will help also provide advice and assistance on technology transfer to developing countries.


[1] Sourced from UNFCCC, 2013, ‘UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw keeps governments on a track towards 2015 climate agreement’, http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/131123_pr_closing_cop19.pdf

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