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ITU Symposium Stresses Bridging the Digital Divide to Tackle Climate Change

© ITU27 July 2009: The third International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Symposium on information and communications technologies (ICTs) and climate change concluded in agreement that achieving climate justice is in the interest of all countries and citizens, and that bridging the digital divide and bringing the benefits of ICTs to all is fundamental to tackling climate change. The third ITU Symposium convened from 8-10 July 2009, in Quito, Ecuador.

The Symposium covered topics including: climate-friendly ICT policy frameworks; strategies for reducing the carbon footprint of the ICT and other industrial sectors; high-tech climate monitoring tools; the use of ICTs in emergency response; and the financial implications for the Americas region. This Symposium was the first to be held in a developing country and participants recognized that, while the countries of the Latin American and the Caribbean region are minor contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, they often suffer the negative impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events, sea-level rise and changes in rainfall patterns.

In the conclusions of the Symposium, participants recognized that ensuring equitable access to ICTs, as well as connectivity to schools, rural communities and health facilities are essential for economic development and for making effective use of ICTs to combat climate change. They also acknowledged some of the climate-related problems caused by the use of ICTs, such as e-waste, and called on the ICT sector to pursue its efforts in limiting its carbon footprint. The conclusions also emphasized the need to: drive the development of more energy-efficient networks and equipment; foster the recycling of ICT products and reduce the use of toxic materials in their manufacture; develop agreed global standards on “green” ICTs, including common methodologies for measuring the climate change impacts of ICTs; prioritize the use of renewable energy sources; and increase cooperation between developed countries and those countries most at risk, in particular in climate change adaptation and recognizing the potential contribution of ICTs to that end. The conclusions also called on public and private entities, at national and international levels, to include the analysis of the impact that telecommunications and ICTs have on climate change in their activities and projects.[ITU Press Release][Symposium Conclusions][Symposium Webpage]