Delegates at UN telecom forum agree to reduce emissions from ICT use

31 October 2008

Close to 800 information and communication technology (ICT) experts from nearly 100 countries have wrapped up a United Nations meeting in Johannesburg by agreeing to work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of ICTs.

The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that ICTs contribute around 2 to 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this is likely to grow as ICTs become more widely available.

In a resolution adopted at the close of the ten-day World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in South Africa yesterday, ITU members agreed to reduce the emissions arising from the use of ICTs, in line with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

They also recognized that ICTs can be a major mitigating factor in efforts to tackle climate change and to limit and ultimately reduce emissions across all industry sectors.

This can be done through the introduction and development of more energy efficient devices, applications and networks, as well as their environmentally sound disposal.

The resolution also acknowledged that ITU has committed to achieving climate neutrality within three years.

The Assembly also examined a number of other issues, including accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities and encouraging academic participation in ITU’s work.

Delegates agreed on a restructuring of ITU’s standards work and a revised focus that will strengthen the position of the UN agency as the world’s premier ICT standards body.

“We have received a strong message from our members that ITU is, and will remain the world’s pre-eminent global telecommunication and ICT standards body,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector.

“And we also hear very clearly that ITU should continue on its mission to connect the world, and that bridging the standardization gap — by increasing developing country participation in our work — is an essential prerequisite to achieve this goal.”

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré added that the Assembly has “laid out a road map for the future development of standards that underpin the world’s communications networks. This is a critical input for all stakeholders who join ITU in our commitment to connect the world.”


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