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Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

GeSI response to public consultation on Rio+20

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), representing over 30 of the world?s leading vendors and service providers of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the public consultation on Rio+20. Our response addresses two areas: cooperation mechanisms and implementation tools that encourage transformative ICT solutions, and the expected outcomes of Rio+20.

1. Cooperation mechanisms and implementation tools that encourage transformative ICT solutions

It is imperative that two decades on from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro the discussions on sustainable development take into account today?s societal and technology contexts. GeSI is calling on all Rio+20 stakeholders to fully recognise and take advantage of the role of transformative ICT solutions in fostering sustainable development and addressing 21st century challenges like climate change. Companies should no longer only be seen as a source of environmental problems, but certain sectors, such as ICT, should also be viewed as solution providers and ?positive? contributors to the sustainability debate.

In particular, GeSI appeals to Rio+20 stakeholders to:

? Ensure that Rio+20 recommendations and structures created do not ignore, or undermine, emerging ICT solutions.

? Take advantage of existing and widely deployed ICT infrastructure. Most countries have national ICT and broadband plans, yet the utilisation of this infrastructure to deploy services and solutions that benefit sustainable development is largely untapped.

? Create an enabling policy framework that supports the deployment of ICT to deliver solutions, for example, in the areas of e-health, smart grids, transport and mobility, food and agriculture.

2. Expectations for the outcome of Rio+20 GeSI?s expectations for the outcome of Rio+20 relate to a number of areas. Specifically, we call on stakeholders to:

? Focus on delivering the services that society needs, and not necessarily the traditional ways of providing them.

? Recognise the importance of including transformative ICT solutions in Rio+20 outcome documents and processes.

? Set targets for sustainability contributions of transformative ICT solutions.

? Encourage a policy framework that includes transformative ICT solutions.

? Encourage engagement of the private sector, in particular to foster innovation and dematerialisation perspectives through modern technological advances.

Transformative ICT Solutions

The landmark report ?SMART 2020: Enabling the Low-Carbon Economy in the Information Age? gave a clear picture of the key role that the ICT industry plays in addressing climate change globally and facilitating efficient and low-carbon development. While ICT?s own sector emissions will nearly double by 2020, the strategic application and diffusion of ICT solutions in other business sectors can reduce total global emissions by as much as 15 per cent. These savings are five times larger than the total expected emissions from the entire ICT industry and with more focus on transformative solutions this contribution could be significantly larger.

Examples of sectors where transformative solutions can help reduce emissions by 80 per cent or more include:

? Smart transportation: Radio tags can be attached to items in a cargo and their journey tracked from manufacturer to warehouse and to shop. This makes it easier to move goods and stock more efficiently. Using ICT could help cut emissions from distribution and transportation by 1.52 billion tonnes. ICT can also facilitate decentralised and on-demand production that reduces the need for transport and storage to almost zero. In a similar way ICT can make commuting much more efficient while teleworking is even better and can support a much more resource efficient way of working.

? Smart grids: Connected electricity supply grids can be controlled so that energy is sent to industries and homes in the most efficient way, accelerating the uptake of renewable energy. By 2020, this could reduce carbon emissions by two billion tonnes. Smart grids can also support decentralised renewable energy distribution and the accelerated uptake of electric cars.

? Smart buildings: By using ICT in buildings for managing light and heat systems, resources consumption can be adapted to match demand in real time. Smart buildings could save 1.7 billion tonnes of emissions. ICT can also help a shift in approach where connected buildings in cities become net producers of renewable energy.

? Smart motor systems: In factories, the motors used to power machines such as pumps or conveyor belts can be made ?intelligent? through the use of ICTs. With ICTs, emissions from motor systems could be reduced by 0.97 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, worth EUR ?68 billion.

? Dematerialisation: Further savings can be achieved from the potential of ICTs to enable dematerialisation- replacing high-carbon physical products and services with virtual alternatives. For example, e-commerce leads to dramatic reductions of physical transport and could avoid more than a billion tonnes of carbon emissions. Virtual meetings and remote working will also significantly reduce carbon emissions caused by travel, saving half a billion ton of carbon emissions without any major investments.
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