Published on: 2013-11-21

The UN Climate Change secretariat launched a new partnership with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) today to underscore the critical role Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays in tackling climate change.

Speaking Thursday evening at a special event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, senior government officials and influential corporate leaders from the ICT sector highlighted how the increased use of these technologies can reduce energy use, cut greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the effects of climate change.

According to GeSI’s recent report, SMARTer 2020: the role of ICT in driving a sustainable future, ICT can slash global greenhouse gas emissions by 16.5 per cent, saving $1.9 trillion in energy and fuel costs and cutting 9.1 gigatonnes of carbon emissions. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including:

  • Increasing energy efficiency of telecommunications networks and data centres
  • Enabling smart grids, including enabling renewables to connect with the utility grid
  • Reducing travel and transportation by substituting and optimizing existing travel and transportation systems
  • Using virtualisation initiatives such as cloud computing and video conferencing
  • Making efficiency gains through the use of variable speed motors in manufacturing
  • Creating intelligent building management systems and optimisation of logistics networks
  • Using smart farming techniques, including weather monitoring and livestock management

“ICT has an essential role to play in putting the world on a low-carbon path,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “The way we do business and provide critical services is shaped by mobility and connectivity. As urban populations grow, ICT can help ensure that growth evolves in the most sustainable way possible. Concerted action by policy-makers to use ICT is an extremely important part of powering a green revolution.”

Moderated by Nick Nuttall, Communications Director for the UN Environment Programme, the high-level discussion focused on how ICT can both reduce emissions and build resilience to the effects of a changing climate. The event featured three high-profile and influential corporate leaders and GeSI members including:

  • Luis Neves, Chief Sustainability Officer, Deutsche Telekom
  • Matilda Gennvi Gustafsson, Sustainability Director, Ericsson
  • Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT

GeSI Chairman Luis Neves said, “Our partnership with the UNFCCC is an excellent opportunity to showcase ICT-driven changes that contribute toward a low-carbon economy. Our members are dedicated to fulfilling ICT’s massive potential to achieve sustainability. The UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative is an amazing platform to progress in critical areas of society. Together, we can make unprecedented and meaningful contributions.”

Government leaders speaking at the event included Helen Asiamah, Director of the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency, and Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia.

The new partnership between GeSI and the UN Climate Change secretariat is part of a larger initiative that showcases successful climate action around the world. Momentum for Change focuses on women’s leadership, urban poverty, innovative finance and, now, ICT solutions.

Beginning next year, people, institutions and companies can submit examples of how ICT addresses climate change and builds resilience. The most inspiring, innovative and successful activities will be selected as Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities, which will be recognised and celebrated during the December 2014 UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.


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