This is now a legacy site and could be not up to date. Please move to the new IGF Website at

You are here

IGF 2020 – Day 12 – WS219 Co-Designing policies for a sustainable digital industry

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 




>> VICENT TOUBIANA: Do you hear us?

>> Yes, you loud and clear.

>> VICENT TOUBIANA: I think Annie is not here.  She's having a sound issue?

>> So before we begin, I want to remind everyone that the session is recorded and hosting under the IGF code of conduct and UN rules and regulations.  Thank you.  So I think we should start.

[ Speaking French ]

>> VICENT TOUBIANA: Okay.  So maybe we shall start.

Okay.  So let's start.  I hope we'll find a way to have all the panelists speaking to us.  Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Vincent Toubiana, and a work for a French independent called the French Digital Council.  It aims at proposing new regulations and it was created in 2011.  So we'll soon be celebrating our ten‑year anniversary, and for the last three years we have been participating and organizing workshops at the IGF.  And we are very happy to be able to participate to this year's forum.

The council has 34 members with different backgrounds and come from academia and ten from civil business and society and four MPs.

Members are nominated for two years mandate.  And the last mandate just finished and normally we should have new members very soon.  Over the last two years as the members have been working on a variety of topics.  The Working Group led by Annie, who is one of the panelists and other members of the council come back with 50 different stakeholders including academics and public institutions and administrations:  We propose this workshop to share feedback on how co‑design work and learn from designing roadmaps an projects related to digital transition.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the panelists, who are going to share their experience with us.  I would like also to thank Lucien Castex who is going to moderator.  He is a member of the multi‑stakeholders adversary group.  That's it for the introduction.

I will leave the screen to Lucien.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Vincent.  Good afternoon, good morning, and good evening, depending on where you are.

Thanks again for joining us.  I will be moderating the session.  While the goal is sim, discuss the positive and negative impacts of the digital industry open environment.  So today, we have four distinguishes speakers around the table.  A few rules.  First, rule of term be civil, first, obviously.  Present yourself on the chat.  It's quite important to do so.  So you can speak to one another and to the panelists.

Also, use and abuse the chat discuss the issue, to exchange ideas and use the Q&A pod to interact directly with participants from the panel.

My colleague Mary Lou Leroy will help me with moderating the chat in the Q&A.  So we're looking forward to having questions from you.

So first off, I would like to give the floor to Ananya Singh.  You are an economic scientist and Internet Governance advocate.  How do you pursue the role of ICT in the context of sustainable development?

>> ANANYA SINGH: Hi, good morning, everyone.

First of all, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this amazing workshop.

So because I have been associated with the United Nations program and Samsung's engineering sponsors, as the eco generation for over five years, I'm pretty much deeply affected and I do deeply care about this topic of sustainable development.

Interestingly, it's one of the focusing themes of IGF 2020.  So sustainable development has been a focus of international public policy, since the 1987 report when it was first announced and the Earth Summit in 1992.  It identifies three core objectives for human development.  The first one being economic growth, and the second one is social inclusion and the third one is environmental sustainability, the one which we're going to discuss more deeply today.

Only by pursuing these three goals together can we achieve development that meets the needs to be present without compromising the ability of the future generations, to meet their own needs and this is precisely what sustainable development is all about.

The past 30 years have seen tremendous growth in the capabilities and the reach of information and the communication technologies.  The Internet, especially has become a critical enabler of social and economic change, transforming how governments, businesses and decisions interact and offering new ways of developing developmental challenges.  Connected devices promise to be the major drivers of change within the coming few years.

The pandemic which we are going through right now has disruptive lives, limiting movement, closing schools and constraining people to work from home.  But billions of people confined at their homes, the Internet traffic has surged over the last few months, it's probable that you have already relied to a couple of emails and scrolls through Facebook and started a Zoom call, in fact you are attending a Zoom call right now and seen live videos from YouTube and maybe performed a quick Google Search.

As the day wears on, you are doubtlessly going to spend more time breezing outline, and streaming videos, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So each of these activities that you perform online come with a cost, a very small cost, that is a few grams of carbon dioxide, due to the energy needed to run the devices and to power the wireless networks to access.  Less obviously but I have even more energy intensive or the data centers and vast services to support the Internet and still the content will be accessed over it.

By Google's own estimates one search on its engine calls 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide emissions at an average of 47,000 search requests every second, you have 500 kilograms of emissions offsetting.  A common convenience like speaking lights on by speaking to a digital assistance, create a chain of reactions from beyond your home as information travels back and forth.

But we rarely consider that there is an energy beyond what shows up on our bills for electricity and mobile data.  Less surprising is that hardware production requires a lot of financial ‑‑ like, you have so many phones and so many devices, even if it is easier now a single ewaste, when we buy a physical new gadget.

The physical manifestation requires fuel to run.  For example, in India, it takes about 8,000 liters of diesel to keep a mobile tower running as backup per year.  Data centers like those run by Facebook and Google and that essentially power digital lives consume about 3% of the world's electricity and you are responsible for 2% of the global green house gas emissions.

The energy consumption of the Internet is enormous and the studies have suggested that global communications technologies will be responsible for more carbon emissions in 2025, that any country of China, India and the United States.  This puts the carbon footprint of the Internet at approximately the same level as global air travel.

If the Internet were a country, it would be the sixth largest in the world, based on the energy it uses, ahead of Germany and a little shy of Russia.  Now that we have successfully established that the Internet poses a great threat to the global climate.  It's hard to regulate the ICT or the Internet in particular, because so many of us use it for so many different reasons.  One of the most energy intensive uses of the Internet being watching or streaming videos.

Online videos have represented 80% of the global leader of flows with the remaining 20% representing websites, data video games, et cetera.  Imagine ten hours of high quality video comprises more data than all of the English energies and Wikipedia and text.  Watching a half hour online leads to 1.6 kilograms of carbon emissions.

Let's look at it from a completely different view point.  Email made physical mail essentially redundant but more than the convenience of it, would appear to be a promise for our future was that email was environmentally friendly.  This was not only because fewer forests or trees were going to be destroyed for paper and onwards but also because massive amounts of transportation fuel was going to be saved.  For our generation, this was the larger promise of the Internet.  But according "The Guardian" an email has 1/60th carbon footprint.

In power we send several times the number of emails than we did in letters making the statistic redundant.  Imagine you trying to squeeze all of your thoughts on a piece of paper when sending an email multiple times with single sentences of two or three sentences barely.  The same report estimated that sending, sorting and filtering of Spam email around 63 trillion annually utilizes like 33 billion‑kilowatt hours of electricity.

The carbon footprint is 0.3 grams and one with a long attachment is 50 grams.  Can you imagine the amount of carbon emissions that we have done by now at this time of the day?

The Internet's promise of a greener world, hence, needs to be evaluated.  With higher demands for this technology from both the public and the private sectors in the next few decades we will obviously need to start shifting towards greener technologies.  Thank you.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you.  That was great in setting quite inspiring.  I would like to give the floor to Annie.  Annie, you are a professor of law, at IMT Atlantique.  Can you present the roadmap of the French digital council, and its elaboration?

(no audio).

I can't hear anything.  We might have a small issue that's being sorted.

(Background conversation).

>> VICENT TOUBIANA: Sorry.  I'm trying to call her back.  Trying to find a solution.  Give me ‑‑ give the floor to the next speaker.  Sorry, Lucien.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Well, we will move to the next speaker and give Annie Blandin floor.  And next we have Esther.  Can you, present the public policies on environmental aspects of digital technology.

(conversation in French).

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Vincent, we can hear you.

We lost Esther for some reason.  She might have had a problem with her connection.  Well, I guess we'll move to Pierre and try to get back to the speakers just next to Pierre Bonis.  You are the executive director.  Can you give us a practical use case?  So domain system is a key part of the Internet.  Can you tell us more about its environmental footprint?

>> PIERRE BONIS: Hello, everyone.  I hope that you can hear me.

So thank you very much, first of all, for inviting me to this panel, and as I intervene just after this ‑‑ this setting that we had on the Internet, I may just start to share some thoughts about the limitations ‑‑ the limitations from my point of view of this approach.  Trying to present every action on the Internet and giving it a carbon footprint.  I think it's very interesting to do that, but at the same time, it's no the giving justice that the Internet is a materialization economy, which means that when you look at carbon footprint, you look at the carbon footprint that's issued by the making of the computers, the making of the infrastructure and if you want to reduce the use of this infrastructure, at the same time, you increase the average carbon footprint of every user.

It's a little bit like when you are on a plane.  If you want the plane to stay on the ground, of course, the carbon footprint of the plane will be equal to zero if you don't think about the making of the plane.

But in the plane flies, it's better that it flies with 100 passengers than two passengers because if it flies only with two passengers, the average carbon footprint for each passenger will be much higher than if it flies with 100.  It's the same thing for the Internet infrastructure.  If they are used, it reduced the average carbon footprint infrastructure itself.  So adding a name to a video, to a research, to each and every interaction that we can have on the Internet, to me is once again interesting but can may not be exactly what we are trying to do.

So in order to share what AFNIC has done since 2012 on this issue.  We started to do our carbon footprint in 2013 with an objective aim of reducing our global carbon footprint from 20% in ten years.

So far, I mean, we have not reached the ten years because we are in 2020, and not 2022.  We have reduced a little bit, but we didn't reduce it to the 20% that we had as an objective, and one reason for that is that the carbon footprint for an organization such as AFNIC which is a relatively small organization as a registry of domain names, we are around 80 people working in the registry.  The reason why is mainly because we have grown till 2012, and we have hired more people, and the carbon footprint of the people working and I'm not talking about the machines or the infrastructure, is increasing normally because they take the transports to go to the office, even if now they are not taking any transport at all, but this is another question.

Because also they eat, they go to the restaurants, they use some computers.  So ‑‑ so it's ‑‑ it's about reducing the ‑‑ the best way to reduce it for a ‑‑ for an organization like AFNIC is ‑‑ after having gained some carbon footprint with the internal organization, is to put pressure on the contractants that we have, to try to ‑‑ to try to contract with people would have a strong vision on the reducing of the carbon footprint, trying to find some equipment that are ‑‑ that consume less energy, for instance.

But even with that, it's ‑‑ it's not as easy as it seems just when the carbon footprint are calculated.  One thing I would like to stress is that we have starred to benchmark ourselves with our European colleagues and the first thing that is striking me is that not everyone put the same thing in a carbon footprint.

Some of us are just focusing on the travel of the people who are working for them.  Some others are focusing on the infrastructure and the core business.  Some of us are including everything in the carbon footprint, which goes for instance even to the coffee that Lucien is drinking currently.  That has a carbon footprint in itself.

So once you do that, there is a ‑‑ there is some difficulties to benchmark.  Of course, for those of us who are targeting the carbon footprint, mostly on the travel, they will have great success these 2020 year on their carbon footprint and a huge reduction of it, because they have not taken the plane, but what about the core business, and how to exactly evaluate the carbon footprint of the core business?  This is another question and even if we have moved forward, there's a lot of uncertainty.  I'm very sure that Annie will give us some ‑‑ some insight on the way that we have to look at the carbon footprint of our core business, but just to finish, I would like to share a ‑‑ an experience with you giving you ‑‑ an idea of the challenges that are ahead.

In the DNS, the Domain Name System, we have to work mostly on the resilience of the infrastructure, make sure that everywhere in the world you have servers that can answer your ‑‑ your domain name or answer any kind of resolution that is asked by any kind of user.

Two years ago, we opened a new DNS spot in New York, just to serve the North America but also the Caribbeans asking for their information.  And we were very happy to install one of our facilities in the best ‑‑ also called Best Data Center New York.  And one year half we did our carbon footprint and it decreased 15% in the DNS resolution in the year before.  And we asked ourselves now.

It was just the no, data center, which is a very modern one and a very excellent one and the data center who has a policy on reducing the carbon footprint is plugged on an energy plant that is using coal.  And in France, you know that most of the energy doesn't come from coal, but from nuclear energy, which has some problems, but not too much problems in terms of carbon footprint.

So ‑‑ so it gives you an insight of the details that you have to look at, when you are contracting with ‑‑ with others and this is in the core of our business, to contract with a lot of people all around the world to make sure that the ccTLD is working well.

I will finish with that because I'm sure I have been a little bit too long, but it was a way also to let the others to get connected.  So thank you very much for that, and I'm very open for discussion later.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you.  Thank you, Pierre.  Quite an interesting approach on actually benchmarking our carbon footprint.  Sorry also for the technical hiccups.  Some panelists are having problem connecting or connecting to the audio.

Well, I would like to give back the floor to Esther Ngom.  Esther, you are a lawyer and you are the president of the Cameroon chapter the Internet Society, can you present the public policies on the environmental aspects of digital technologies in Cameroon?

>> ESTHER NGOM:  We have a bit of a problem with the Internet here.  Hopefully now I can follow all the ‑‑ all meeting.  Okay.  In terms of public policy on digital in ‑‑ and the environmental aspect of digital in Cameroon, we first of all, I would like to say that the question ‑‑ the main question on the environmental aspect of digital on electric waste ‑‑ (Garbled audio) to maintain it, and the ‑‑ the carbon footprint coming from the production of the material err we are using.  So you have data that is in force in Cameroon.  We don't have any specific law, any specific text or regulation concerning the digital environment aspect of the digital activities.  We have a range of provision in different text and different domain, but we have text that is specific to the digital.  We don't have any provision on the environmental aspect of those activities.

What ‑‑ (garbled audio).

Right from the carbon print of the ‑‑ are first in the law carried off in the law of 1996 which was the main law in Cameroon.  And this allows for principle participation of all the citizens in the protection of environment, the principle of who is ‑‑ who have carbon print, and the responsibility of the producer of the waste, and those principles are applied in specific text on the waste, that is the text from both the ministry of environment and ministry of trade is the text of 2012.  Giving the reports and the technical material in the digital domain ‑‑ (garbled audio).

So there's no specific provision in the digital domain, there's no specific provision on the environmental aspects of the activities and there's also other provision in the domain of energy, but they are very, very few insights in those text on energy, and how it ‑‑ we have to manage the environmental impacts of the GTAG in terms of waste of energy to maintain the system and to use the domain name to have electronic trades.  So this is something that has to be taken into account in the ‑‑ in the next text that we will do in Cameroon.

For now the single law making process is the law on private data, but we are ‑‑ we are ‑‑ we will ask civil society and the Internet Society to probably make a white paper on that question so that we ‑‑ the policymakers and the government should take this discussion into account if you want to have a sustainable digital economy here.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Esther, for a great use case.  The IGF is a great place for promoting and tackle the dialogue, but also a great place to compare policies and regulation and be actually able to move forward together on such a global issue.

I would like to give the floor to Annie Blandin.  You are the professor of law at IMT Atlantique, which is a school in France.  Can you tell us more about the roadmap of the French digital counsel and also tell us more about the context of its elaboration?

(No audio).

>> ANNIE BLANDIN: Do you hear me?


(no audio).


>> VICENT TOUBIANA: Sorry, just one sec.

>> ANNIE BLANDIN: (Feedback).

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Yes, there is an echo on the audio, and indeed don't use the speaker and Vincent you can maybe turn down the sound a bit.

(Speaking French).

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Perfect on my side.  Yes, it's working.


(speaking French).

>> ANNIE BLANDIN: So I will present the work of the French digital council on digital and environment in the form of a roadmap.  This roadmap was a roadmap on the basis from the French minister of the ecological and solidarity transition and the French secretary of state for digital affairs.

It is also the result of a major concept and fruitful collaboration with the French high person for climate.

This work is in line with the French digital doctrine and measures already in existence or in the process of being ‑‑ the French digital council has been adopted over the course of its mandate with various partners.  It's important to point out that many measures already exist or will be adopted.  We are not starting from a blank sheet of paper.  One need only sign the law on the circular company to this.

We have therefore lists of these measures and carried out the state‑of‑the‑art.  This roadmap is part of a very rich European and French agenda with the Green Deal and the French Recovery Plan, it's intended to lead to action.  Numerous recommendations will be decided within the framework of the interministerial strategies.

Germany is another member of the European Union that has launched its own strategy on digital environment last March.  The territorial level is also essential and already involved.  In the European Union, citizen mobilization strong and we believe that the time is right to implement a real digital and environmental policy.

This is this operational focus of our work that justifies the method to which the council is loyal and which has enabled and continues to emerge, but also to identify sensitive points.  We have brought together the administrations with competencies area, institutional players but also committed companies, and civil society organizations, experts, and citizens.  We have carried out a real iterative work of intelligence, where the opinion of all could be heard.

Each recommendation of the roadmap was co‑constructed in workshops where we presented ‑‑ and where contributors were invited to provide written feedback.

From the plurality of opinions, strong' realistic opinions emerged.  One might wonder whether these honor continue.  On the one hand, the desire to slow down the pace and curb or financial consumption and on the other hand, the financial sector is more intensive.  It is precisely these tensions that these two transitions if the world does not take the measure of the environmental exchange, and it faces the ecological transition is likely to slide, just as if these were not addressed and the digital transition would not be able to take in a sustainable way.  This is why we wanted to present something that French and Europe will have to support that of responsible digital technology.

A digital system that controls its own environment and footprint and a digital system that supports its provision to a more ecological and socially responsible society.

Here again, noting the digital technology has a harmful environmental footprint, while having the use to support the ecological transition must seem paradoxical.  It is true that the negative impact of digital technology on the environment is more or less measurable while this is more in the form of opportunities sometimes more difficult to perceive, but it may only be a matter of time.

The path we have chosen is therefore systemic, the pillars of the roadmap are inseparable.  There are two sides of the same core point, of course, it's a not question of letting the digital technology slip away on the grounds that each ecological impact would be offset by the services to the environment.  The proposed measures are interwoven.  So it outlines the digital policy in relation to the environment.

The measures we have presented are on two pillars, the first pillar is digital sobriety throughout all the different products and services.  And the seventh is to put at the second of the environmental transitions.  In this respect, there is no shortage of examples for commitment and agricultural to the protection of biodiversity.  There are many potentials to be exported.

Environmental data is the cement that holds these two together, which is why the world map is compiled by the environmental data generating interest.

Although the environment is one of the main challenges in humanity, digital technology has so far failed to demonstrate any distribution to the ecological contribution.  The digital world is seen as immaterial and clean, and this image is false.  Digital technology has harmful environmental impacts even if the assessments are not converted, there is a significant trend and our recommendation concerns profiling methods for assessing the impact of digital technology.

This is particularly managing in terms of materials, metals, and energy and water, in addition to the cost to the environment, there is also the human cost, because the minerals needed for technology have too often been extracted in this regard of human rights.  Particularly by exploiting children.

Downstream users, for the prediction and the construction of electricity, and end‑of‑life management of the collection we use.  This format is divided in three projects, project one, as part of the objective set by Paris agreement to contain climate change, reduce the environmental footprint of digital technology, and adopt digital sobriety for a wider action.

And there is better evaluation in quantifying the environmental footprint of digital technology, and another example of better consuming implies asking an essential question, the question of the relevance of the certain uses with regard to the environmental footprint.

Project two making digital technology at the quality solidarity, program and putting data at the service of ecological and solidarity transition and mobilizing digital technologies around projects and sustainable innovation, low tech, corporate economy, agricultural energy for the future mobility and sustainable intelligent territories, and create a responsible European intelligence, consistent with the key ecological.

And three, financing, the recommendations of the roadmap, because France and Europe to responsible technologies will not be achieved without massive investment.

Finally, our work has indeed highlighted the crucial role of environmental data in the ecological transition.  This data are both the source and the product of knowledge the decision makers use to understand, anticipate and manage the environmental programs.

They are also at innovation processes saying that we can say economic performance, social progress and environmental preservation, particularly in the form of digital services.

The potential for using this data, in the energy or agricultural sectors, for instance justifies the need to speak of the data economic driven by the general interest, which is what the European Union is calling for.

We have made a distinction between environmental data by nature, geographic data, for example, and data by destination within the use that can be made of it, such as ‑‑ (telephone ringing) and there is another dimension, which is all the more important, as they are linked to other data in relation to agriculture, for example.  This machine data reminds us that our environmental protection requirements must be integrated foot various policies and actions of the European Union.

Environmental data can be public or private.  Public data are already open.  As for private data, it is only partially ‑‑ it only partially benefits from populous on the basis of sectoral approach.  It is to them that the term of data is currently reserved.  The council ‑‑ the council in its opinion has the visualization of the explicit qualification of data and general interest for environmental data produced privately for its citizens.

It proposing consolidating the status by basing it on the incentive and project based approach of innovative nature of case law, when it gives persistence to the right to information or commercial interests.

The role of the legislative approach would be above all the end stream by drawing all the less ops from the observation practices as far as the regime of data is consumed, the council believes it must be based on the reconciliation of data control and organized.  It must take into account several issues since it's the subject of appropriation strategies by large companies.

Thus the economics of data go hand to hand ‑‑ hand in hand with the geopolitics of data and it is significant in this respect that the union is considering the creation of overlooking the data space whether or a European or local scale the environmental data is a close link with the territory that needs to be developed.

In conclusion, we can see that the ecosystem has embraced a need to reduce the environmental footprint of digital technology as a necessity, but above all an opportunity.  The same commitment applies to all actions and putting digital technology at the service of the environment.  And we can also count on citizen mobilization.  Taking advantage of this context to provide the incentive and obligation in order to create a climate of trust:

It is with this hope of friends and the commitment to technology and the service of the future these interventions come to the end and I would like to thank you very much for your attention.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thanks, a lot, Annie.  That was quite inspiring, digital sovereignty, protection of biodiversity quite a few recommendations, indeed, human rights and sustainable innovation are key aspects, indeed for fostering a strong digital industry for the future.

And now, I would like to give the floor back to Ananya, but to ask her what must policymakers keep in mind when framing policies to promote rapid digitalization without causing irreparable damage to the environment.

>> ANANYA SINGH: Thank you for asking me to speak before I actually address this question, I would like to thank you have for referring to the example of Europeans and carbon footprints.  We discuss this example in our classes.  We just do it in a different context, more in terms of pricing.

About that carbon footprinting, I do agree there that there is ‑‑ there are 50 people traveling on a plane, then there's the same amount of carbon footprint and it's literally going to be more damage to make only two people travel on the same plane, because we will either way have the same amount of carbon footprint.

Here what we have to understand is we are not asking airlines to stop their business all together.  And we are also not asking people to stop traveling via airplanes all together.  We are, though, we are simply asking people to be collective about the number of times we need to travel via the air.  So we are simply asking people to prioritize.  Metaphorically speaking, full stops are never, but shorter and simple sentences are better than a lot of commas to make the same sense.

So the first one, like Annie just kind of touched upon, is the concept of digital sobriety.

In the treaties such as the Paris Agreement, made commitments to drastically reduce green house gas emissions.  So meeting this challenge demands a rethinking of the world's consumption.  Thus, they must pursue an approach which is based open digital sobriety:  Just in a more mindful and responsible way, as opposed to completely cutting it out.

So environmental experts from Paris created a think tank on this shift project which proposed this idea of digital sobriety.  This think tank thinks that this ewe manty is the victim of a concept in which websites employ mechanisms and recommended section of streaming sides to maximize the amount of time we spend as users on the platform.  It allows for a continuous flow of video, rather than a time usage which boosts the large amount of content and generates the associated data.  For example, the auto play own NetFlix, encourage people to watch more and more episodes than they originally attended.  There's little time to opt out before the next episode starts.

This asserts that regulation of content is needed which means we would be aiming at redimensioning the design of platforms to audience behaviors to encourage behaviors where we are trying to persuade people to reduce the volume of content, they are consuming and be more consistent with their exact needs and in a sense this is an approach that we are trying ‑‑ the designers and the makers to make and this is not exactly coming from the consumer side but from the producer side.

The second point that I would like to highlight is demography.  So, for example, a policy that is suitable for India may not be suitable for the United States because both have very different populations and with that, population count with several different accents of people, young and old, literate and illiterate.  Acing to 2018 study, Americans have almost 18 connected digital divisions and whereas an Indian owns an average of one single device and consumes 2gb per month and they don't even have those devices.

So give this diversity, it's inadvisable to provide this digital sobriety.  So where they are making any type of policies where they are trying to advance digitally but also trying to save the environment, we must keep the local emotions and ideas of what is good for us in our mind.

The third point is about geography and politics.  So I would like to highlight the difference of four different countries in Asia.  The first one is China.  A large country.  So China is attempting to crack down on the overusage of the Internet.  But it is noting that the intention of serving emissions.  China announced it would impose on curfews of minors playing video games to curb what it thinks is an addiction.  So gamers under 18 are barred from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 p.m.  And during the week, the minors can pay for 90 minutes a day.  So this allotment is extended to three hours on weekends and public holidays.  It may encourage website designers to reduce their use of addictive design mechanisms.

The next example is of Singapore which is a democracy, a very small country compared to China.  They have Internet sensors which are being used to determine when things are switched on and off.  A similar thing has been happening in India under India's smart city mission, which also is increasingly relying on online services to think about transferency, especially using mobile services and providing services without having to go to multiple municipal offices forming egroups to listen to people and opt in feedback and using online monitoring, et cetera.

While this sounds like a very good one, we are reducing travel and there's a huge cut in carbon emissions we have to understand that India as a country with 1.3 billion people.  Imagine 1.3 billion people logging in at the same time, the amount of traffic it generates the amount of carbon emission it will generate will be huge!

The next example is also of India.  So India has actually undergone a lot of change, because he launched the digital India campaign and this aims to increase digital connectivity.  And so under this program, the government has planned to introduce public Internet access programs, broadband highways and things as such.

So these are all platforms which will boast the development process an will help the citizens to engage themselves.  Like we have a digital program, a flagship program of digital India.  So this kind of runs parallel with the digital India's vision that every citizen in the country will be provided with a private space on a public cloud to make all of their documents and certifications available in this space through this platform issuance and verification of documents will also be done so we are eliminating the requirement of any physical documents.

So the Prime Minister also launched the integrated case management system of the Supreme Court, the first step taken by the code towards becoming paperless and digital.  So we are having all the litigants now access their data online.  So while all of these are conserving the environment, the physical environment, in some ways, the increased digital dependence cannot be an environmentally sustainable one given that India, like I said has the world's second largest population with over 1.3 billion people.

The other example is of the Green New Deal and it has two pillars.  The first one is the Green New Deal and the Digital New Deal.  Under the digital, they have basically tried to convey the idea that it intends to spend about $41 million to build the 5G construction and cloud computing for the government, as well as for an additional $541 million to promote the industrial convergence within 5G and AI.  What we have to understand here is for the westerners, 5G comes with both its pros and cons.  While it has its own set of pros, there's also cons that was widely discussed in western countries, especially in European countries.

But for countries in Asia, 5G is one thing, it's development and progress.  It means speed.  For a layman, it means development.  And anything that leads to development is something that any Asian countries will do.  Most are going digital but they are not keen on digital sobriety.

Many countries in the AP region have significant populations.  With we have China and India and they are the most populously, they are in the Asia region, right?  That means we have increased dependence and more reliance on the digital space.  We can't simply look at a given technology and energy uses and rule out its use and completely ban its use.  That's not right.

It all boils down to two things.  First one, are people spending more time online and what is the environmental impact of this creased use is there a way to cut down the increased use?  We have to explore the alternatives.  If people are spending more and more of their time of consuming information and entertainment onlines, then this is actual going to have a lower environmental impact.  Are they going to travel or go for a drive, we have to look this activity compared to what else we would be doing with our time and what are the environmental we would be having if weren't doing this.  We have to explore and evaluate the opportunity cost of this activity.

So is it something which is harming the environment less?  Then that's something that we have to consider while training a policy.  The fourth one is more installation.  Is it being used for, streaming video or texting.

A good policy may be tailored according to the dimensions regarding the patterns of Internet users.  And if it's the most environmentally damaging one, then it's important that policymakers underline soft measures.  So this could range from anything, such as social media campaigns tore advertisements and we need to start using the Internet to save the environment.

And the final point is we have to go for more research and development that will help us to reduce the ecological damage that we are causing.  Like there were reports that they have been trying to move behind 100% green energy to power themselves and pledges from Facebook and Google to do the same.  Microsoft set is up a system to save costs and keeping them cool.  We just have to understand that regulations need to be implemented on a policy level, that balance of mitigation of environmental harm and people's right to information and freedom of speech.

Thank you.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Ananya.  Great ideas.  A few solutions indeed.  I would like to give the floor back to Pierre Bonis and ask him, are there any plan, any project you can elaborate on for further evaluate and improve the energy use of a DNA request?

>> PIERRE BONIS: Yes, thank you.  Thank you, Lucien, and once again thank you very much to Ananya for explanation.  One of the last points that I spoke about was the foreseen R&D.

I think the first thing we can do is to make sure that we fully understand what is the carbon footprint of the core infrastructure on the Internet.

And I spoke about what we ‑‑ what we are used to speak about as the high level Internet.  She spoke about Facebook, Apple, videos, and this is very important.  And this is quite important.  But this is the underlying infrastructure that is still here, and from AFNIC point of view and maybe Annie will agree with that.  We think this is part of the Internet footprint that is not very well none.

So at AFNIC, we are committed to work on that.  When I say work on that, it's not us only.  We will try to share our work with engineers in the IGF during the year 2021, in order to evaluate the real carbon footprint of an average request on the DNS.

Why so?  Not because we are expecting that this is the most important part of the Internet carbon footprint, but first of all, because this is our car business.  So even if we think that our carbon footprint is not compare to the one of the gold mining industry in South Africa, for instance, there's no reason for us not to try to understand very deeply what are we doing and what is the impact of it?  So this the first reason.

Tidy your room, it's your own food, however you say it, this is our core business.  We have to make sure that we know what is our carbon footprint.  And in some cases, it will give us some input to discuss with other organizations that fill this kind of gap and calculate it for us which is not a good idea, I think.  The second part is if we know better about the DNS request, which is at the basics of Internet functions.  Even if it's not seen without the DNS, you don't have the Internet.  With this evaluation maybe and that's what we hope, we will see differences between different kind of services or at least different infrastructure that are deployed.

For instance, what we are expecting ‑‑ maybe I'm wrong we will see that when we work on that.

What we're expecting is that a DNS that goes from, let's say, an Internet ‑‑ a local Internet service provider revolver to authority DNS server that is in the country, and comes back to the user maybe less consuming in terms of carbon that a DNS request that is sent by the local ISP revolver but goes all through the Atlantic Ocean, for instance, with DOH to a huge American country that ends it back to the local user in Europe for him to access the content that is located for instance, in India.  So I don't know, but this is something that we have to look at.  If we look at the methodology in the carbon footprint, you have some measures that are calculated on an average usage, which means for instance, if you what want to evaluate the carbon footprint of mail that is sent and this is what Ananya talked about, you took about a mail that is sent through Gmail, for instance, with an average of number of attached files, it's ‑‑ if we want to encourage people to change their usage, you have to show them that maybe there are other ways to use the email and lower your carbon footprint.

The only way is not sending less emails.  The way can be that there are other ways to reduce your carbon footprint.  So what AFNIC is committed to do on the DNS requests.  There are a lot of other things that could be worked on, which is GDP, which satellite protocol that could be analyzed and to look at if it has a huge or average carbon footprint and this is going to be more and more important to evaluate all the Internet protocols, TCP, DNS with the IEFT to fuel the global thinking and the global evaluation of the carbon footprint of the Internet.  I'm not talking about Ananya has said very well that Internet on its own has also external positivities when it ‑‑ I mean, when you send an email, you don't send a mail, for instance.  When you do a Zoom conference, you don't take the plane.  So even putting that aside we really need to know more about our real carbon footprint.  That's that is what I wanted to share and thank you, Lucien for having asked a question.

By the way, answering this question is also a way to say to participants to this excellent panel that AFNIC will not do it alone.  So if there are some volunteers to help us work on that, and especially to the IGF or other engineers that are interested in the Internet for example, we will be more than happy to share the burden with them.  Thank you.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you.  Thank you, Pierre.  Indeed.  I was at core Internet walks and it's its environmental impact is a great way to encourage people to change I would like to give the floor to Annie.  And to ask her could we imagine cooperation of digital and ecological transition?  Could you explain why there is a link with the problem of addiction and of environment?

We can't hear you.  We can't hear you the at least on my side.


>> LUCIEN CASTEX: That is fine but the echo is back.



>> LUCIEN CASTEX: It's working fine now.  Thank you have.


>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Well, we only have about 15 minutes left, I will ask Esther about how could we improve policy making at the global level to foster a sustainable digital industry?  And then I will give back the floor to Annie for concluding remarks.  Esther, you have the floor.

>> VICENT TOUBIANA: And so I'm in line with Annie.  I will try again.

>> ANNIE BLANDIN: Thank you to the question about the measure and the impact or the footprint of digital technologies, we have to measure this impact and also it was told by Pierre Bonis considering the infrastructure.

We have also to take into account the opposite effect.

And we have to consider the more structural problems and the source of the exponential uses of Internet of digital services is not ‑‑ everybody knows is the economy.  So the in our work, we thought it's fess to regulate the attention economy.  So this is ‑‑ this is a problem that is not addressed for the moment.

The only problem that is addressed at the moment is that of competition with the big ‑‑ the Big Tech industry but regulate attention is really a huge challenge, I think.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Annie.  Esther, well, I already asked the question.  I will repeat.  How do you think we could improve policy making at the global level to foster a sustainable digital industry?

>> ESTHER NGOM:  I think the first step is to have a Study Group to study the issue that's inside the environmental aspects of digital economy and then we cannot avoid to have a global text, maybe under the form of recommendation for the countries for the Internet text, or if possible more binding text that will have provision on all of those aspects and this will be implemented at the national level later because the economies are all linked and if you have only your consideration, it will not work this question.  So this is what I see first, the Working Group, like what we did with this session in the most mature way and with thematic sub group and have a binding text at the global level and it will be implemented in each the countries.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Esther.  We have like ten minutes.  We have a great question in the great from Sebastian.  It seems that a lot of measures are coming from national government or with some specialized structures.  How can we finance real multi‑stakeholder discussion?  Is it the IGF the place or the first step?

Pierre?  Do you have any thoughts on that?

>> PIERRE BONIS: I fully understand why this is coming from the national level.  My understanding is that the international level is used to set the objectives that we have to reach, let's say, for instance the cup, '21/22, et cetera, and then after the countries are ‑‑ are taking specific measures to reach that objective, I will give you an example for that.  And it goes back to the example I gave about the DNS facility that we opened in New York two years ago.  This is unto the national authorities to foster the research of Green Energy.  If this green energy is developed in one country, because the data centers will be greener mechanically.  So for me waiting for a kind of global policy is ‑‑ it could delay the concrete measures that could be taken to lower the carbon footprint on the Internet.

That doesn't mean that it won't be discussed at the international level.  I think IGF is a good level because we exchange experience.  We share the knowledge, but we are as some say a toothless animal, which means we are not creating regulation.  If we want to find a place where we should create regulation on the global level, I can tell you that the battle with the different levels will last two years before we have an opportunity to take some decisions.  So let's move at the national and regional levels and discuss at the international level.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you.  20 years, right!  Indeed.

And I see Esther would want to take the floor.  Esther, the floor is yours.

>> ESTHER NGOM:  As Pierre concluded.  We need to move at the national and the regional level to have something done and to have nothing done in the towns to address these issues but we need to discuss at the international level to have minimum provision for everybody and as I said before, maybe we can see this first event as the first step, like, Sebastian said, to look more at this question, having kind of Working Group and what I would suggest as recommendation for this day is that all what we discussed today, the genesis we made, the proposition we made, the example we had from some national context, we should create a white paper and send it through the IGF network and ISOC so we start a discussion in all the national contexts so have this important issue addressed.

The policymakers have never looked at that problem in Cameroon.  That will be more and more big because of the digital economies, we growing very fast here.  So as a recommendation, I don't know if we can put together all that we did today that we have a white paper on the IGF network and other network as ISOC so that it touch everybody at the national level and we started a discussion and we start having solution, like Pierre said at the national/regional level and then continue the discussion at the international level using the IGF network as a first step.  Thank you.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Esther.

Having discussion at the IGF in the multi‑stakeholder arena and implementing policy at the local level, it's quite ‑‑ that's quite a challenge.  It's quite interesting to be able to actually compare policies and discuss policies.  I would like to give the floor to Vincent Toubiana, for thanks and last remarks since we have like three minutes left.  Vincent, the floor is yours.

>> VICENT TOUBIANA: Thank you to all the panelists for a great discussion and it was very interesting.  And as I was trying to solve technical glitches, I really enjoyed the conversation and we had a very broad perspective not only the issue but on the way to try to saving dress it and also it was an opportunity to see what new consortium could be used to address the digital transition.  And so it was really ‑‑ I really enjoyed that.  And so thank you to all the panelists for sharing your experience and that was very useful and I think thank Lucien for moderating.  And sorry to everyone for the technical glitches.  I hope next year we will be able to meet in person and, yeah.  That's it for me.

>> LUCIEN CASTEX: Thank you, Vincent.  Thank you, everyone.  Thanks to the speakers.  Thanks to the participants and to the people following us on YouTube.  See you next time.


Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411