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Internet Governance

Using ICTs and the Internet to meet environmental challenges

Chair: Arthur Levin (ITU)

Intro: The purpose of this workshop was to discuss concrete policies and to look at how environmental performance could be improved to make effective use of the internet in meeting environmental targets, harnessing the ICT sector’s potential for sustainable growth and employment, speeding a green recovery and underpinning green growth in a time of economic turmoil.
Heather Creech of Canada, discussed ICTs as a force of transformation and systemic change. She spoke of 3 orders – first (direct effects), second (indirect effects), and third (systemic changes that investment in ICTs may be able to bring about – unfortunately not an area of vigorous research). Some examples are (1) Open architecture democracy – open source democracy where there is potential for problem solving, debate and innovation. (2) Networked governance – more institution-based with stakeholders collaborating together – meeting virtually to problem solve. (3) Data commons – a playing field for decision making – large amounts of data can be shared, using the same models and sharing some common perceptions. These models could enable global solutions. New values, goals, principles and processes are evolving as people consume more ICTs but at the same time creating problems related to this consumption. Communication is a basic need and even though one may be earning only $2 a day, a mobile phone is still seen as an essential item to cater for this need. The implications for internet/ICT policy development include: better analysis of systemic effects, including methods to measure these effects; opportunities for applying ICT enabled networked governance approaches to sustainable development policy making and implementation; an integrated approach to issues and polices at national and international levels; sustained attention to capacity in the South; R&D on how to drive “green intelligence’ out to the edges where the individual is – at their own workplaces and homes. Finn Peterson of Denmark agreed that a strong economy is possible while addressing environmental issues; green ICT is not the sole solution but it has unique potential; Denmark have set a goal of 10% reduction in Government’s energy consumption before 2011. Their action plan includes greener ICT use; IT solutions for a sustainable future (encouraging corporate and public authorities to become more green, focusing on employee behaviour and smarter use of servers and data centres; creating guidelines to establish green IT solutions). He sees clear targets as essential for achieving these goals; environmental and economic strategies and policies that can contribute to ‘green growth’; using ICTs to increase energy efficiency; and international cooperation. ICTs can be part of the solution. Luis Neves of Germany explained global warming and the need for a reduction of global temperatures for a healthy earth. Graham Vickery of OECD believes that alternative energy sources are not economic enough. We are a petrol driven economy and the cost of alternative energy makes it not worth developing. Individual venture capital investors are investing in clean technology, but governments aren’t helping by their lack of support for enabling initiatives (green energy, green transport). Very few initiatives have measurable targets for the evaluation of their policies or programmes.

During a discussion about the value of partnerships, Heather thought they were a great idea but it must be clear about what the partnership is supposed to deliver (any hidden agendas?); Graham believes that the bigger framework is the problem – how do we reach where we want togo? What are the best practices? It is important that we share information. Luis said that sometimes partnerships with the private sector can be difficult as commitment can decrease with time. The business model can intrude on the partnership. Finn agreed that they are a good idea but practicalities –vision and commitment – must be clarified. Best practice promotes good development.