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ITU, UNFCCC, UNESCO Propose Adaptive Pathways for ICT Sector

itu-unfccc-unesco28 April 2014: Climate change will cause unavoidable impacts that will affect the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, making adaptive practices the "new normal," according to a report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Deutsche Telekom.

‘Resilient Pathways: The Adaptation of the ICT sector to climate change' explores the impacts of climate change on the ICT sector and proposes pathways to strengthen the sector's approach to adaptation, including the development of new standards. The report aims to raise awareness on the need to design and implement ICT strategies to prepare for, respond and adjust to short and long-term climate impacts.

Commenting on the launch of the report, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré stressed the importance of “mainstreaming climate-resilient innovation in research and development needs." He further called for "a new, more flexible mindset and new learning processes to take into account robustness in the face of climate change impact when designing these fundamental technologies.”

The report recommends adaptive actions based on resilience principles, including actions that address ICT's diversity, flexibility, learning, rapidity, robustness, self organization and scale. Such actions could include: reviewing evidence on the impact of past weather events on ICT infrastructure and service providers to identify lessons learned; strengthening the resilience of ICT infrastructure, including investments in flood barriers and more resistant infrastructure; implementing approaches to ensure continuity of services and operations during climatic disturbances; and strengthening cross-sectoral and multilevel collaboration, including access to broader networks of support.

The report further recommends, inter alia: a sector-wide assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities from climate impacts; improved telecommunication service coverage, particularly in disaster-prone locations; and research and development on energy-efficient devices and components that are suitable to projected climatic conditions.

Adaptive approaches could also involve tackling emerging business opportunities, according to the report. It suggests developing new standards, including measures that ensure sector robustness and cross-scale interactions; responding to business and consumer demands; and developing structures and skills to benefit from new possibilities.

The report includes sections on adapting the ICT sector to climate change from an ITU perspective, a UNFCCC perspective, a UNESCO perspective and a Deutsche Telekom perspective. The report is part of ITU's efforts to increase interest within the international community on the potential of ICTs as part of climate change strategies and to foster innovative responses to climate challenges. [ITU Press Release] [Publication: Resilient Pathways: The Adaptation of the ICT Sector to Climate Change]