Collaboration crucial to ensure green ICT bridging digital divide: UN

green ICT digital divide
Dr Dena Assaf, UN Resident Coordinator of the United Arab Emirates

Green ICT can be a central enabler of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to develop a sustainable, green and equal society.

Dr Dena Assaf, UN Resident Coordinator of the United Arab Emirates, said that green technologies not only make it possible to envision a net-zero world in the coming decades, but also create new investment and employment that will reshape our economies and societies, at the Better World Summit (BWS) – jointly hosted by Huawei and Informa Tech – in Dubai.

The digital divide remains a serious problem, she added, a point that the COVID-19 pandemic made all too clear when millions of students were unable to attend online classes because they lacked sufficient and affordable connectivity.

It is encouraged that ICT companies make concerted and collaborative efforts to design solutions that enable inclusion, especially for youth.

“If these trends continue, we will see only a handful of countries, benefiting from New Frontier technologies, while the rest of the world tries to catch up,” Dr Assaf warned.

Dr Assaf hoped that ICT players to be mindful of their technological contributions to narrow existing inequalities and avoid creating new ones.

She also suggested ICT players to create economic opportunities especially for young people, particularly in terms of employment opportunities and giving them a stake in the fourth industrial revolution. “I invite you to be more proactive in reaching out to young people, showing them the possibilities, initiating volunteer spaces as well as creating internships, and outreach programs to show them the limitless possibilities that the fourth industrial revolution can bring.

Finally, Dr Assaf advised that green ICT initiatives must be multi-stakeholder efforts, bridging divides between different sectors and reaching beyond industry to communities, academia, civil society, media and other social partners to build the widest consortium of stakeholders possible.

“These conversations are necessary to ensure that we facilitate technology transfer, increase women’s participation in the digital sector, conduct technology impact assessments on the environment and society, and make sure that these frontier technologies being unleashed work for the benefit of all – and especially for our planet,” she said. “We need investors, companies, technology champions and policymakers to be more inclusive in their engagement.”

The BWS event – themed “Green ICT for Green Development” – echoed that call for cross-industry collaboration, with telcos such as Etisalat, MTN, Orange and Telenor sharing their own green ICT initiatives with a focus on more efficient power consumption.

Tommy Stadlen, co-founder of Giant Ventures, offered numerous examples of technological innovations and trends from different sectors that will come together to ensure a more sustainable future, including autonomous electric vehicles, smart cities, alternative foods such as plant-based and lab-grown meat, sharing platforms enabling lower consumption, remote working and telemedicine – all driven by data analytics and running on more efficient fibre and 5G networks.

Bob Cai, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, reiterated Huawei’s call at MWC Barcelona 2021 earlier this year for the industry to develop a standard and methodology to measure carbon reduction roadmaps. At MWC 2021, Huawei and Informa Tech jointly proposed the Network Carbon Intensity (NCI) index, which defines carbon emissions per bit of data as a new metric for green networks. 

At BWS, Cai announced that Huawei will hold a green development forum with its partners at MWC Barcelona 2022, and invited all industry partners and operators to attend.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to work with our industry partners and operators to empower all industries using our innovative technologies,” Cai said.

Related article: Huawei’s Ken Hu calls on ICT industry to work together on next-gen 5G

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