MEETING ON ICT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT “GREEN TECHNOLOGY & SUSTAINABILITY: THE GLOBAL HIGHWAY TO SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT”
7 OCTOBER 2009, DELEGATES DINING ROOM
4TH FLOOR UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
by Gary Beach, Publisher Emeritus, CIO Magazine
22nd Annual ICT for Development Conference Series: GreenTech and Sustainability
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York
Global leaders in the green technology/sustainability markets gathered at the world headquarters for the United Nations on October 7, 2009 for a one-day conference focused on key technology issues of green technology and how green technology can support the global efforts of the United Nation’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Michael Lackey, president of AIT Global Inc., the conference organizer, welcomed delegates to the meeting and introduced Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator, Secretariat of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development, to set the stage with opening keynote comments.
Mr. Khan framed the day’s events with this singular statement: “the world has reached a seminal turning point in human history unless we collectively slow down and turn around the impact of greenhouse gases and wasted energy use, our lives, and our lifestyles, will change. And change not for the better.” Mr. Kahn reminded delegates that we have a “social responsibility” to implement this slow, gradual change for the betterment of mankind.
Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations from Luxembourg and President of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, was next to speak and focused her comments on tying together the social responsibility and economic themes of green technology. Ambassador Lucas issued this challenge to the IT industry: “The ICT Community has a direct social responsibility to the nearly seven billion people that inhabit the planet earth to leverage the powers of technology to solve the challenges of global warming.” She critiqued the ICT Community for an over focus on the economic side of the green IT solution.
David Hsieh, vice president, marketing, Emerging Technologies at Cisco, challenged the audience to join in an effort to reduce reductions in greenhouse gas emission by 25% by the year 2012. He offered four areas that delegates should focus on to make that emission target a reality. Those areas outlined by Mr. Hsieh were 1) grid (power), 2) smarter transportation policies and practices, 3) smarter buildings and 4) alternatives to traditional travel (where he highlighted the benefits of virtual technology like Cisco Telepresence).
Jeff Nick, senior vice president and chief technology officer, for EMC Corporation, led the delegates through a compelling presentation that addressed three main themes: a) the incredible amount of “data” that is created in the world each year (currently 988 exabytes and growing), b) the large amount of data that is needlessly replicated, and hence needs more computers (and power and energy usage) to store the duplicated data, and 3) the relatively low (15 -20 percent) utilization rate of server computers. Mr. Nick highlighted also the concept of “cloud computing” for the delegates as a smart option to help developing countries to utilize more data, more effectively at lower power consumption rates.
Tod Arbogast, Director, Dell Sustainability Business, offered a cogent presentation that shared with the delegates a three-pronged strategy that would lower business and institutions carbon consumption and lead businesses, non-profits and governments to sustainable carbon neutrality positions.
A panel discussion comprised of Kathrin Winkler, EMC, Dr. Cheemin Bo-Linn, Board Member WITI and CEO, Peritus Partners, and Ted Arbogast from Dell discussed the key take aways from the morning session.
David Thompson, group president and CIO, for Symantec offered delegates comments at a luncheon keynote where he emphasized the importance of partnerships between public and private firms. He thanked the delegates for their commitment to green technology/sustainability and emphasized how critical that strategy was to his firm Symantec.
After lunch Jeffrey Seigel Adjunct Professor, NYU, gave a compelling presentation that clearly pointed toward the incredible inefficiency of office buildings as the main culprit on the massive build up of greenhouse gases and offered delegates insights in to future governmental policies/regulations to make buildings more efficient. During the question portion of this presentation one delegate suggested that governments around the world make greenhouse gas awareness/green tech a “mandatory” education curriculum requirement.
Sarbuland Khan, in his closing comments to the delegates, made this analogy: modern human history spans about 5,000 years and he asked us to think of those 5,000 years as a 24-hour day which starts at 12AM. He then shared this startling fact: only in the past 300 years has the nearly four trillion metric tons of green house gases built up commencing with the beginning of the industrial age in the 18th century. He likened those 300 years to about one hour’s time (1AM) on the 5,000-year history of human development clock.
He closed the conference by challenging the delegates to join him in dramatically reducing the world’s carbon footprint by 1:15 AM, which he equated to about 2050. The analogy left unsaid that if unchecked the continued build up of greenhouse gases would eventually cause a catastrophic change in the human condition. He challenged the private and public sectors to work and collaborate closely to turn back/slow down the hands of that clock.
Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ghazi Jomaa Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations Headquarters today. I hope that today’s programme is both informative and productive. I am honoured to be part of this Meeting on ICT for Sustainable Development and I would like to express my sincere appreciation to AIT Global and to the Secretariat of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development for inviting me to speak before you.
Ladies and gentlemen, a seminal challenge of our time is how we can fully harness the potential of information and communication technologies to achieve our goal of sustainable development. Indeed, the use of ICT can be a principal means by which we can effectively implement and achieve our development agenda. This was clearly manifested at the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Geneva in 2003 and in my country, Tunisia, in November 2005, where governments, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders galvanized their efforts and vowed to place information and technology in the service of development, in particular, the Millennium Development Goals. In the words of the World Summit on the Information Society, we need to “build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life”
However, genuine development requires that our use of resources and the environment today does not restrict the use by future generations. Our future is in peril unless we begin to adopt effective sustainable development strategies. Fortunately, the advances in information and communication technologies can help us advance our efforts not only for growth and development, but also for environmental protection and preservation of our ecosystems. – o – Ladies and gentlemen, we have been constantly reminded in the media of climate change as a global problem. This is indeed one of the most pressing problems facing the world today. The United Nations must therefore ensure that the international community is prepared to address and cope with this global challenge. And we must harness the collective energies of all stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and the public at large. Cleaner technologies should be central to our response. Many of these technologies already exist and would be beneficial particularly to developing countries. But barriers to technology transfer and cooperation between developed and developing countries exist. We need to strengthen international cooperation to assist developing countries with their increasing energy needs and to move in the direction of low-carbon, renewable energy and cleaner fossil-fuel technologies. We must advance new and emerging technologies and facilitate access to them by those who would benefit the most. Furthermore we need to work on making these technologies more sustainable and therefore limit the e-waste they produce. The ICT community can play a critical role in reducing this waste and the use of hazardous materials in designing and packaging products and equipment
Many of you come from the private sector, which has always been a strategic source of solutions. The business community has always been key to turning problems and challenges into opportunities by coming up with technologies and innovative business models. Each and everyone of you should step up to the challenge by implementing “green” solutions, products and programmes, and creating new and alternative technologies. In addressing climate change, the ICT community can contribute to mitigating its effects through increased energy efficiency, for example, by using new and renewable energy sources or developing energy-efficient data centers. Teleconferencing, wireless communications and online transactions, executed with the help of devices like mobile phones, replace physical travel, and therefore can help minimize our carbon footprint. Providing access to ICT can also help promote economic and environmental sustainability. Extending access to ICT to remote and rural markets can help not only to grow the customer base, thereby promoting economic growth, but also minimize impacts on the environment as a result of interconnection and communication.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all should act with a sense of urgency. And we must continue to be innovative in our responses. During the meetings today, I urge each of you to contemplate what you and your organization can contribute or may contribute to the global effort to promote sustainable development and how we can effectively leverage green technologies for this purpose. As it was urged at the Summit on Climate Change here in New York last month, it is vital that we all collaborate to generate one common political vision on how to tackle climate change and to work towards “Sealing the Deal” for a fair, effective, and ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen at the end of this year. I do not want to take much of your time and I would like to hand the floor to Mr. Mike Lackey so we can proceed to the next sessions
H.E. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas
President of the Economic and Social Council and
Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Economic and Social Council, I would like to welcome all of you to this “Meeting on Green Technology & Sustainability”.
I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to AIT Global for organizing this timely event and to the Global Alliance for ICT and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for its continued support to advancing the United Nations development agenda by promoting dialogue and discourse with business leaders on how information and communication technologies can be fully leveraged for development.
I also would like to thank all of you for your participation and for taking a strong interest in today’s most urgent global agenda.
The global agenda of sustainable development Ð which integrates the goals of economic growth, social development and environmental protection Ð has received renewed and vigorous attention in the United Nations. The Economic and Social Council which I have the honour of chairing this year, is the principal organ of the United Nations responsible for economic and social issues and the main coordinating mechanism for development policy. The Council is composed of 54 member Governments, elected for a 3 year period. ECOSOC’s focus in 2009 is to explore key challenges in achieving the international agreed development goals and commitments in the area of global public health. We strongly believe that information and communication technologies are playing a vital role for the health care systems around the world. Virtual and mobile technologies provide health care advice and services, and raise awareness. Distance-learning and telemedicine enable communities to access practical medical information in real-time, and educate the health care professionals that are urgently needed, especially in the developing world.
Indeed, the world today is struggling with new and emerging challenges, such as soaring world food and energy prices and the onset of global warming and climate change, which are threatening our efforts to lift people out of poverty. These challenges become even more severe for developing countries, particularly the least developed countries and small-island states.
As the effects of climate change and global warming are being felt around the world, for many small island countries, it is now becoming a threat to their very existence. Many countries in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, have also become vulnerable to more extreme weather, and these are the same countries which have very limited capacity and capability to cope.
The current turmoil in the world economy risks furthermore to reverse the modest progress and development that have been achieved in many of these countries, and to be detrimental to our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The challenges we face today are complex and we need to be creative and innovative in our responses. In this age of technological achievements, we see unparalleled growth in the capacity of technology to address today’s development problems Ð to increase productivity in agriculture and industry; to help fight diseases and illiteracy; and to communicate across great distances and create seamless systems for the flow of information and knowledge for sustainable development.
New technologies are now moving towards building agricultural and industrial applications that are more sustainable. ICT can be useful in management and monitoring of soil through remote sensing. They can also help manage water demand through drip and advanced irrigation. They can be used in monitoring and assessment of air pollution, forest fire management and in various meteorological applications. They can also help establish new paradigms for educational systems to open up the world of knowledge to events in the remotest corners of the globe.
ICT allows us to understand the environment and the impact of climate change fully. They can be useful tools to help arrest and ultimately reverse the adverse effects of greenhouse gases. They can help in making electricity load and energy management more efficient, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. They help modernize mass transit, reducing the impact of urban transportation on the environment. And they can also be instrumental for providing information on climate change and disaster management.
But we need to keep in mind that the ICT sector itself (excluding the broadcasting sector) contributes about 2.5% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG), and as the ICT industry is growing faster than the rest of the economy, it is likely that this share will increase over time. The main constituent (40%) of this is the energy requirements of PCs and data monitors, with data centers contributing a further 23%. Fixed and mobile telecommunications contribute an estimated 24% of the total. ICT can contribute significantly to finding a solution to reducing the remaining 97.5% of global emissions from other sectors of the economy, but at the same time it is essential that we develop more sustainable and green technologies in order to decrease the Greenhouse Gas emission and the enormous amount of e-waste that ICT produce at the moment.
The Economic and Social Council attaches great importance to the issues of sustainable development, environmental protection and climate change, and recognizes the strategic role of information and communication technologies in addressing these questions. In 2006, the Council requested the United Nations Secretary-General to launch the Global Alliance for ICT and Development with a view to fully exploiting the potential of ICT for sustainable development. Important contributions have meanwhile been made through multi-stakeholder partnerships and dialogue.
In the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN is also working hard to build a common ground and to mobilize political will across the globe to conclude an ambitious, global and binding agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in December.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On addressing the complex issues of sustainable development, no one can do the job alone. Today’s global challenges require a collective response. Partnerships and collaboration among all stakeholders Ð governments, private sector and civil society Ð have become more crucial than ever. Indeed, development is no longer the sole responsibility of governments. The private sector has a critical role to play. Not only does it contribute to employment generation and wealth creation, it can even help lay out the structure of a low-carbon economy and promote sustainable and renewable energy. The private sector is at the forefront of creating innovations and new green technologies, which, when used effectively, can have tremendous impact on the lives of people around the world suffering from poverty or natural calamities, and help lay the foundation for a sustainable future for us all.
I am confident that this meeting will provide an important opportunity for all of you and the United Nations community to exchange views and ideas on how new technologies, in particular green technologies can be placed at the service of sustainable development. I look forward to benefiting from your exchange of experiences and views during the discussions that are taking place today. I call on each and every one of you to be actively involved in the development efforts of the United Nations and that of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
With these remarks, I would like to hand the floor to Mike Lackey and Sarbuland Khan.