ITU Symposium Highlights Role of ICTs in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

8 July 2011: The International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Sixth Symposium on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the Environment and Climate Change, focused on the issue of ICTs, the environment and climate change in Africa and the needs of developing countries, and concluded with a Call to Action for global leaders to recognize the role of ICTs in tackling climate change and to enhance their ability to do so.

The main objective of the Symposium, which was held from 7-8 July in Accra, Ghana and hosted by the Ghanaian Ministry of Communications, was to move forward the agenda on using ICTs to monitor climate change, mitigate and adapt to its effects, and to identify future requirements for ITU's related work, including on standardization of ICT equipment and networks, and development activities. It focused on the issue of ICTs, the environment and climate change in Africa and the needs of developing countries. Topics discussed included climate change mitigation and adaptation, e-waste, disaster planning, methodologies for the environmental impact assessment of ICTs, and challenges and opportunities in the transition to a green and resource-efficient economy. The Symposium was preceded by a Training Seminar on Conformity and Interoperability for Africa from 4-6 July.

In the Call to Action, participants urged global leaders to, among other things: recognize the role of ICTs in mitigating climate change, through, inter alia, the application of intelligent ICT systems; enhance the transformational role of ICTs in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and recognize the value of ICTs in monitoring deforestation, crop patterns and other environmental phenomena. Participants further: requested the ITU, as the UN specialized agency for ICTs, to lead a coalition urging delegates attending the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 17) at the end of the year to look to the enormous potential of ICT solutions to cut emissions across all sectors; and urged COP 17 delegates to make specific mention of ICTs in the COP 17 negotiating text; and called on COP 17 delegates to increase ICT investment and funding, when considering the operationalization of new institutions such as the Technology Mechanism and Green Climate Fund.

During the Symposium, ITU launched a project on ICTs and climate change in Ghana which will both examine how ICTs can be used to help Ghana adapt to the effects of climate change, and how Ghana's telecommunications sector can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. [ITU Press Release] [UN News Release] [Symposium Webpage]