Built-in ICT resilience needed to face climate change

Report calls for mainstreaming of climate change adaptation principles

Geneva, 28 April 2014 – Adaptive practices for the ICT sector will become part of the ‘new normal’ as climate change impacts increase. This is a key conclusion of a new report produced by ITU along with UNFCCC and UNESCO with support from Deutsche Telekom.

The report titled “Resilient Pathways: The adaptation of the ICT sector to climate change” recommends that positioning climate change in the sector’s agenda requires the active engagement of stakeholders at all levels, fostering the adoption of innovative measures to better cope with, respond and adjust to change. The reports launch follows the addition of a new ICT Solutions pillar in the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative which ITU welcomes as a very positive step towards strengthening the transformational potential of ICTs as part of climate change responses.

The “resilient pathways” highlighted in this report constitute desirable routes of action amidst an increasingly interdependent and changing international environment. These pathways can allow the ICT sector to go beyond short-term reactive measures, in order to improve its overall adaptability to future unforeseen effects, while approaching adaptation from a collaborative, multi-level perspective.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré: “Mainstreaming climate-resilient innovation in research and development needs to become a priority. We need to foster 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. ITU, together with key partners like UNESCO, UNFCCC and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), stand ready to support the international community in this endeavour.”

Luis Neves, Group Sustainability and Climate Change Officer, Deutsche Telekom: “It’s clear that the ICT industry is a powerful force in terms of adapting to climate change. For precisely that reason it’s equally clear that we must generate new solutions with resilience in mind. This report provides some concrete guidelines for industry on how to incorporate some of those principles into the development of new technology.”

The report recommends a number of adaptive actions based on the principle of resilience. It highlights, for example, the need for improvements in telecommunication service coverage, particularly in locations vulnerable to climate change impacts. It also recommends the development of new work to strengthen the resilience of ICT infrastructure, such as those taking place in ITU-T’s Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery (FG-DR&NRR) and ITU-T’s Study Group 5 “Environment and Climate Change.

It notes that ICT sector stakeholders face the challenge of building greater awareness of, and resilience to climate change impacts, especially in the context of increasingly interconnected and interdependent business and supply chains. In this respect the report highlights the Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP), of which ITU is a partner.

Also recommended in Resilient Pathways are the implementation of novel approaches to improve systems’ diversity and interoperability, including virtualization, server networks and system backup, in order to ensure intra-sector redundancy, and thus the continuity of services and operations during climatic disturbances.

The Resilient Pathways report is part of ITU’s efforts to deepen multi-stakeholder collaboration and foster innovative responses to the challenges posed by climate change. It responds to an increasing interest within the international community on the significant potential of ICTs as part of climate change strategies, and aims at stimulating the exchange of experiences in this field.

Information on ITU-T’s activities on climate change can be found at: www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/climatechange/Pages/default.aspx

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For nearly 150 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world.