Nº 5 2013 > Greening the future
Bridging the standardization gap in environmental sustainability
The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA‑12), organized by ITU in Dubai, in November 2012, recognized the vital role that information and communication technologies (ICT) play in tackling environmental challenges including climate change, human exposure to electromagnetic fields, and electronic waste (e-waste), and called for increased participation by developing countries in international standardization work.
During WTSA‑12, ITU’s 193 Member States adopted key resolutions in each of these important areas. These are Resolution 73 on “Information and communication technologies, environment, and climate change”, Resolution 79 on “The role of telecommunications/information and communication technology in handling and controlling e‑waste from telecommunication and information technology equipment and methods of treating it”, Resolution 72 on “Measurement concerns related to human exposure to electromagnetic fields” and revised Resolution 44 on “Bridging the standardization gap between developing and developed countries”.
In response to these resolutions, ITU is organizing a series of events worldwide, giving substance to its commitment to bridge the standardization gap in environmental sustainability. The events seek to leverage the role of ICT in order to build a more sustainable future.
Workshops on environment and climate change
From 15 to 16 July 2013, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, ITU held a workshop on “Building a Sustainable Future through Green ICT Standards”, hosted by Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP). The workshop, which focused especially on the African region, raised awareness of the importance of using ICT standards to build a green economy. The first meeting of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T) Study Group 5 Regional Group for Africa took place from 16 to 17 July 2013, immediately following the workshop.
On 30 July 2013, in São Paulo, Brazil, ITU held a workshop on “Smart Sustainable Cities in Latin America” hosted by Telefónica. This workshop looked at the role that ICT and green ICT standards can play in shaping smart sustainable cities. ICT-based solutions were presented that can drive green and sustainable growth for cities, with a special focus on Latin America.
ITU will hold the third Green Standards Week from 16 to 20 September 2013, in Madrid, Spain, hosted by Telefónica. This event will include a forum on e‑waste, which will be co-organized by ITU, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU) and the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE). There will also be a forum on “Greening Mobile Devices: Building Eco-Rating Schemes”. The week will see the second meeting of the Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, a High-Level Segment on Smart Sustainable Cities, the award ceremony for the third ITU Green ICT Application Challenge, and the third ITU/WMO/UNESCO IOC Workshop on Propelling a Pilot Project on Green Cables. A closed meeting of the ITU/WMO/UNESCO IOC Joint Task Force on Submarine Communication Networks for Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning will wrap up the Green Standards Week.
From 4 to 5 October 2013, ITU and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka will hold a national workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka on “Bridging the Standardization Gap on Environmental Sustainability”. This workshop aims to make progress towards bridging the gap between standardization and environmental sustainability and will also offer a technical tutorial on Green ICT standards.
Workshops on e‑waste management
On 9 July 2013, in Durban, South Africa, ITU held a workshop on “Environmentally Sound Management of E‑waste in Africa”. The workshop provided an overview of best practices on policies, regulations and international standards for improving e‑waste management and concluded suggesting the following actions:
- African countries should develop and implement e‑waste policies, regulations, and best practices, pursuant to Article 11 of the International Telecommunication Regulations.
- The African Telecommunication Union (ATU) should partner with the African Union, regional economic committees, ITU and other relevant organizations such as the Basel Convention, Bamako Convention, UNEP, UNIDO, STEP, and so on, to help African countries develop national legislation/regulation.
- ATU should partner with the African Union to develop a model programme for cooperation between governments and industry for national actions to handle e‑waste, including the implementation of international standards (for example, Recommendation ITU–T L.1000 on the universal power adapter and charger solution, and Recommendation ITU–T L.1001 on external universal power adapter solutions) at the national and regional level.
- ATU should partner with the African Union to develop a model legislation and best practice for e‑waste management, based on existing regulations that have proven effective, and ITU’s work in this area.
- ITU should carry out a project in Africa to illustrate the benefits for a country and its population of implementing e‑waste policies, regulations and best practice for e‑waste management. The project should also look into the possible establishment of processing and refining/recycling facilities.
- ATU should encourage African countries to participate actively in ITU–T Study Group 5 “Environment and Climate Change” so as to develop international standards on e‑waste management and encourage their implementation at the national, regional and international levels.
- ITU–T Study Group 5 should carry out a survey on existing legislation in Member States on e‑waste. African countries are invited to contribute to the next meeting of ITU–T Study Group 5 regarding this survey.
- ATU and ITU should organize a follow-up workshop in a year’s time to review progress (preferably in conjunction with an ITU–T Study Group 5 meeting in Africa in 2014).
On 13 August 2013, ITU will hold a workshop in Quito, Ecuador, on “Environmentally Sound Management of E‑waste in Latin America”, kindly hosted by Telefónica. This workshop aims to identify major challenges and strategies associated with the management of e‑waste in Latin America.
On 9 October 2013, ITU and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) will hold a workshop in Mendoza, Argentina, on “Environmentally sound management of e‑waste”.
Workshops on human exposure to electromagnetic fields
On 14 August 2013, in Quito, Ecuador, ITU will hold a workshop on “Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields in Latin America” kindly hosted by Telefónica. This workshop, which will focus especially on Latin America, will provide an overview for policy-makers and other stakeholders of the concerns raised by electromagnetic fields.
Looking further ahead, ITU and UNESCO will organize a series of workshops in February 2014, in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the invitation of the government of Uruguay. The themes of these workshops will include smart sustainable cities, human exposure to electromagnetic fields, smart water management, and e‑waste.