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n the 21st century, climate change andenvironmental sustainability are two ofthe key challenges facing our globalcommunity. Clear scientific evidence,extreme weather events and increased publicawareness have elevated climate change to the top ofthe political agenda, both at the global and nationallevel. Indeed, most countries today have alreadyincorporated climate change into their nationaldevelopment strategies, highlighting the need to tacklethe causes behind climate change and to identify andimplement measures to adapt to its effects. One of our most important roles at ITU, the UNspecialised agency dedicated to bringing the socialand economic benefits of information andcommunication technologies (ICTs) to all the world'speople, is to ensure that the power of ICTs are bestleveraged to address key global issues - including, ofcourse, climate change, and over the past few years wehave made considerable progress in this regard. GREENING THE ICT SECTORWhile ICTs do themselves contribute greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions - currently around 2.5 per cent ofglobal GHGs - they are also directly instrumental inhelping reduce the carbon footprint of all other sectors,and particularly those that most contribute to climatechange. We therefore need to ensure that we work bothto keep the ICT sector as "green" as possible, and tocontinue to spread the benefits of ICTs across othersectors. In the first case, this means measuring andmonitoring the emissions produced by ICTsthemselves, using a standardised methodology.Producing such a methodology, which will define a"level playing field" to help green the ICT sector, hasbeen a recent focus area for ITU, and I am pleased tosee that the ICT industry is already committed to thiseffort, and that the private sector has been activelyinvolved in the development of the ITU methodology.In the near future, it will be possible to compare, on anagreed and transparent basis, among sources of ICT-related emissions across the globe, and to identify theeffectiveness of actions undertaken to improve theenvironmental performance of the ICT sector. CUTTING THE EMISSIONS FROMOTHER SECTORS Looking to other sectors, it is clear that ICTs are uniquein having a net positive environmental impact on othersectors and areas of activity, such as transportation,manufacturing or electricity. To give just one example,advanced broadband networks allow individuals andcompanies to cut down on travel and use videoconferencing instead. Similarly, the digitalisation ofcontent helps to reduce the consumption of material,such as paper, replacing "atoms" with "bits". Forexample, streaming or downloading a movie eliminatesthe need to manufacture a physical copy, reducing theenvironmental impact of the entertainment sector.According to the G20 ICT Sustainability Index,released in December 2009 by the International DataCorporation (IDC), of the world's CO2 emissions, 5.8gigatonnes could be eliminated by 2020 "through thefocused use of ICT-based solutions". Savings such asthis will be greatly boosted when the power of newgeneration broadband networks, with much faster andbetter connectivity, comes into play.A significant part of these savings will be caused by theuse of "smart grids", a broad concept that includesembedding ICT devices into electricity networks,THEROLEOF ICTsINENABLING A LOW-CARBONFUTUREINFORMATION & COMMUNICATION 064TECHNOLOGYDR HAMADOUN TOURÉ, SECRETARY-GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (ITU)I

" "LET US USE THECONNECTIVITYPROVIDED BY ICTS TO WORK AS A SINGLE COMMUNITY TOENSURE THELIVELIHOOD OFOUR PLANETINFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY065Right: Dr HamadounTouré, Secretary-General,InternationalTelecommunicationUnion (ITU)providing better information to consumers, enablingthem to change their consumption patterns through theavailability of real-time data provided by smart meters.A prominent example of this would be making betteruse of renewable energy sources. In addition the use ofsmart grids will reduce electricity lost duringtransmission and distribution and enable appliancesand devices to be networked with the electricity grid,allowing them to enter into automatic stand-by modeswhen not in use. The transformational power of ICTscan also be applied to intelligent transport systems(ITS), which can clear our cities of debilitatingpollutants and traffic jams. In smart, connected citiesyou will be directed to the nearest available parkingspace, GPS enabled systems will improve traffic flow,and intelligent ambient lighting will appear only whenand where it is needed. INFORMATION SYSTEMS AS THE BACKBONE OF ADAPTATION STRATEGIESWhile we search for strategies to mitigate and ultimatelyeliminate the causes behind climate change, we should also look at solutions to assist those countriesexperiencing its effects, bearing in mind that climate change is already impacting food production,water supply and disease proliferation in several areas of the world. In this context, the use of ICTs hasbeen recognised as key infrastructure in supportingadaptation strategies. The use of ICTs supports datacollection and information sharing, allowing decisionmakers to better understand impacts and vulnerabilities,and allowing them to take informed decisions. The use of ICTs to help predict and detect naturaldisasters, as well as delivering information about them,is one of the best examples of the use of informationsystems in climate change adaptation. Across theworld, ICT networks are already being used to provideearly warning of climate and oceanographic changes,allowing governments to better respond to naturaldisasters. This is an area in which ITU is alreadyproviding strong support to our Member States. Similarapproaches could be adopted to establish earlywarning systems to warn about the effects thatunexpected climate variations can have in sectors suchas agriculture or energy production. A CALL TO ACTIONOur global community will gather once again at the endof the year in Durban, South Africa, to look forsolutions that can help move the discussions forwardand define the new climate change regime to beapplied after 2012. The challenges are enormous -but so too are the opportunities available to us. Today,according to ITU data, there are well over 5 billionmobile cellular subscriptions worldwide and more thantwo billion people are online. Let us use theconnectivity provided by ICTs to engage this network ofconnected individuals to work as a single communityto ensure the livelihood of our planet. ITU's message to COP17 is simple: ICTs are part of thesolution, a solution that can move the agenda forward.Let us recognise the phenomenal power of ICTs in theoutcomes of the conference, and ensure thattechnology, innovation and information systems will beat the frontline of our strategies to address climatechange. By working together we can advance theimplementation of new solutions for a better future. nABOUT THE AUTHORDr Hamadoun Touré has been Secretary-General ofITU since January 2007. Re-elected for a secondfour-year term in October 2010, Dr Touré iscommitted to ITU's mission of connecting the world,and to helping achieve the Millennium DevelopmentGoals and sustainable development throughharnessing the unique potential of Information andCommunication Technologies (ICTs).ABOUT ITUThe International Telecommunication Union (ITU) isthe UN specialised agency responsible for ICTs. Itsmembership, comprising 192 governments, some700 private companies and more than 20universities, has called for ITU to take the lead inengaging the global community in addressing climatechange through the use of ICTs. ITU is headquarteredin Geneva, Switzerland, with 12 field offices around the world. Further information about ITU's climate change activities is available at www.itu.int/climate