Civil Society Working Group on Environmental Sustainability
Thomas Ruddy,

Input for the drafting group
, 24 February 2003

<C. Key Principles
<Invoking the use of ICTs as a tool for environmental preservation and sustainability

We welcome the mention, but would prefer to see it reworded as ....

"Harnessing the use of ICTs as a tool for environmental preservation and sustainability"

We are still missing mention of

The need for attention to:

  • The energy consumption of ICTs
  • The potential of ICTs to help dematerialize our economic activity
  • Ecodesign and longer life cycles of electronic equipment
  • Recycling and the trade in e-waste
  • Improved coherence of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) such as the Basel Convention on Toxic Waste (including electronic waste) with the WTO.

We also refer in this context to civil society's input to the work of the "Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly on the Coordinated Follow-up to Major UN Summits and Confrences", especially those dealing with sustainable development and known under such headings as Rio +10 or Johannesburg.


We have already submitted this statement last week on Action Lines:

  1. The energy consumption of our rapidly spreading electronic devices must be given careful attention, and the devices' energy efficiency must be rated in a manner easily understandable to users. In many cases, innovations in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have not led to a decrease in environmental degradation despite the hopes attached to them. That is due to a rebound effect that, for instance, gives us now more paper than ever instead of the improvement that we had expected from using email and PCs in a paperless office; instead of a reduction in traffic by tele-working and tele-conferencing, we are seeing energy consumption in the traffic sector rising fast. Because of the short life cycles of most electronic devices, masses of electronic waste are being generated and have to be disposed of. The UN multilateral environmental agreement Basel Convention is at risk of conflicting with the WTO's non-discrimination principle, and more coherence between the two types of treaties is needed.
  2. To ensure, that ICTs become a tool to achieve environmental sustainability, a global framework should be established, which creates prices that internalise the costs of global common goods. Furthermore, special attention should be placed upon the potential of ICTs to safeguard and monitor the environment.

We have already submitted this input to PrepCom2 entitled
"Why and how the environment has to be taken into account at the World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005" (rtf)


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