Building an eco-friendly Green ICT Market as the lasting legacy of ICTFOOTPRINT.eu
The ICTFOOTPRINT.eu carried out its final event on 17th January 2019, in Brussels (Belgium), co-located and capitalising from the related audience attending the Connected Smart Cities & Communities Conference, organised by OASC was both a policy-oriented event, to provide some recommendations that ICTFOOTPRINT.eu leaves on a policy perspective, as well as a chance to showcase all the results achieved during the 36-month duration of the project and discuss future priorities for the Green ICT market development.
The event brought together a reputable group of expert opinion leaders who are knowledgeable about ICT resource efficiency and green ICT, and a heterogeneous audience providing the perfect occasion for networking and to share experiences.
The following six pillars make up the major recommendations that are being taken forward that may help and influence policy and research and development funding dialogues on a national and European level and delivers the main topics discussed and suggestions, from different ICT experts, on how to unlock the Green ICT market development.
1. Capacity Building - Training & Education
- Universities: Include Green ICT curricula topics to be covered in university course programmes.
- Professional Training: provide Green ICT skills to professionals, across distinct economic sectors, on how to make ICT more sustainable: How to implement and benefit from Green ICT and how different experts can work together for this cross-sectoral challenge. One of the main barriers for organisations to adopt Green ICT is due to the lack of professionals trained on this, on software, hardware, networks, amongst others.
- e.g. Electrical and Mechanical Engineers need to be properly trained and work together
- Public authorities: Promote capacity building and exchange between the (currently) few frontrunners and the many public organisations that would like to design and implement green ICT policies and procurement.
- Citizens: Promote the Green ICT lifestyle amongst citizens, to promote behaviour-change. This could be carried out with delivering some financial statistics on savings if you become greener in ICT.
- Young Generations: Educate the young generation on why it is important to adopt sustainable behaviours, namely on Green ICT: What is circular economy? How to decrease energy consumption? Educating and raising e-awareness of the young generation, since childhood, brings a high-value for the future, since it is a life-long learning process.
2. Policy Measures
- Define an EU Common policy on Green ICT 2020: With a roadmap, developed jointly by government and industry. The roadmap must consider goals to be achieved in the medium and long term.
- Define KPIs for sustainable SME: SMEs being the backbone of EU economy, it is important that achievable KPIs are customised for them.
- Define Green ICT & sustainable policy regulations:
- Tax benefits from Green ICT: All those who adopt Green ICT products, services and procedures, shall benefit from lower taxes. Another solution would be to implement higher taxes on products and services that are not sustainable. These policies will increase the Green ICT usage and encourage financially the transition to sustainable business models.
- Circular Economy - Recycling & re-usage goals: Define recycling and reuse goals, namely legislation on “design to be repaired” rather than buying new equipment. It would be very useful to define a percentage KPI related to recycling for each new equipment produced.
- E.g. In the car sector, EU legislation obliged companies to recycle % of each car components that were sent to disposal. Despite the strong resistance from automotive lobbies that said it was impossible to achieve in an economically viable manner, this has been successfully implemented. This forced manufacturers to vastly increase the level of recycling and reusage of their components. The same strategy and policy approach shall be applied in Green ICT in all Europe.
- Define priorities for each field: Priorities must be customised for each ICT dimension. Different actions and drivers must be taken, depending on the focus.
- Hardware: An example would be to favour the improvement of the battery’s full charge duration & the implementation of circular business models
- Networks and data centres: An example would be the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.
- Software: An example would be to promote the implementation of eco-design procedures and circular business models.
- Raise awareness campaign: Enable a mass campaign on consuming habits based on sustainability level rather low price.
- Carbon reporting: Make “carbon reporting” mandatory and easy to be done, specially for SMEs. Companies should report their carbon consumption to the public authorities, as easy as the financial reporting is. Carbon reporting will allow an accurate and close control and calculation of carbon consumption, but this knowledge must be accessible to all players, namely SMEs.
3. Demonstrate that Green ICT is a real competitive advantage
- Green ICT as competitive advantage: Green ICT is mostly seen only as a brand value. However, the society is not aware that Green ICT can also be a competitive business advantage. The greener one becomes, the more competitive also is. Companies are now becoming aware of the benefits from green ICT, but this mindset should be consolidated much more.
- Make it clear what are Green ICT benefits: Demonstrate the concrete benefits users can get with Green ICT. Without a real benefit for the users, they won’t have the motivation to embrace sustainable ICT practices. What is the value? What is the business gain? Green ICT must be a priority.
- Business-cases: Create business-cases, demonstrating the return of investment of Green ICT, indicating how it was implemented, which standards & methodologies were used and make it clear that investments on green ICT are not risky.
- A sustainable market opportunity: Companies should exploit the generation that today are in their 30’s years old. This is the first generation who does “conscious choices” on selecting products and suppliers. Companies with the “green ICT stamp” in their brand, will get attention form this market.
- Green IT in the business plan: Different stakeholders shall be together involved in green ICT: users, technicians and service providers. Green ICT topic must be considered right from the business plan writing.
4. Circular Economy as a commodity
- Create business models: Support the creation of circular economy businesses.
- Promote reverse logistics and reduce urban mining: Support the adoption of reverse logistics and the decrease or urban mining, to decrease e-waste. This concept shall be also considered during business plan writing.
- Address E-Waste: Define solutions and best practices to reduce e-Waste production or increase its recycling.
- Circular Economy as a “must be”: Define rules on ICT equipment design. ICT equipment’s must be designed to be easily recycled and repaired, to increase their lifetime. It shall be cheaper to buy a repaired or recycled ICT good rather than buying a brand new one.
- Remanufactured instead of new: Make mandatory for big organisations to include in their offer ICT equipment that is remanufactured, rather than having only brand-new equipment. Remanufactured equipment is not synonym of performance issues.
- Adopt the “Hiroki Hondo” model: The “Sustainable management of ecosystem: Integration of life cycle and scenario approaches” developed by Hiroki Hondo, defends that business models shall solve various social problems while also securing profits by applying business and management skills. More info at: http://er-web.jmk.ynu.ac.jp/html/HONDO_Hiroki/en.html
5. Increase the Adoption of Green ICT Standards
- Demystify complexity: Make it easier to interpret and implement standards & methodologies. Their complexity is holding back their adoption, due to the difficulty and time consuming that is required.
- IT manufacturers to adopt methodologies: Promote the adoption of standards & methodologies by IT manufacturers
- Global problems need global solutions: Standards shall be open and have minimal interoperability mechanisms, so support both industry and cities to create an open and global sustainable smart cities environment, based on cities’ needs.
6. Digital Societies shall be hands in hands with Green IT
Modern society today is extremely digitised: 5G networks, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Robotics, Cloud Computing, Big Data amongst others. These technologies are making our cities and businesses into smart ones and sustainable in some respects. However, this ICT usage is increasing the carbon and environmental footprint of ICT itself. ICT has a large potential to help cities and businesses become greener, but the authorities need to help ICT to become sustainable. There is a high challenge for cities and businesses to understand the size of this problem. It is essential for cities and businesses to make their ICT green.