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IGF 2020 - Day 7 - WS217 The role of digital tech. in environmental sustainability

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. 

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>> ROSS CREELMAN:  Hello, everybody, who has joined us today.  Good afternoon if you're in Western Europe, hello to you depending on the time of the day you're dialing in to this IGF workshop.  On The role of digital tech in environmental sustainability.  I'm with ETNA, I'm Ross Creelman, and we organized this session in close collaboration with others.  You won't hear much from me, I'll come back at the end to sum up and to present some of the findings.  I will now hand over to our moderator, Professor Beat Estermann from the Bern University of Applied Sciences.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for this welcoming opening words, and I'm happy to welcome you all on this panel on The Role of Digital Tech in Environmental Sustainability.  This is a very important issue if we want to reconcile the digital transformation with the preservation of a healthy environment for future generations.  This view has been underlined by the participants by this year's youth Internet Governance Forum starting their list of recommendations with exactly this call, we should actively strive to mitigate environmental impact on the internet and ICTs.  Let's discuss today how to achieve this.

The session is structured as followed:  I will start with a few introductory remarks followed by a short poll giving us a first impression of what type of problems we are trying to solve.  After that, we'll have short inputs from each of the panelists before we enter the discussion phase where you will all be invited to join us.  We'll conclude the session with a final poll and the summary of the main takeaways with our Rapporteur.

To set the stage for the discussion, I would like to draw your attention to two points:  First, there are three different levels of impact digital technologies have on environmental sustainability.  The literature distinguishes between first order, second order and third order affects.  First order affects refer to the direct consequences of the use of new or different equipment.  Think of the production, the use, the disposal of this equipment.

Second order, it refers to better eco efficiency of goods and services, thanks to the use of Internet Protocol.  Third order affects, it refers to the feedback of first and second order affects with social behavior, for example, new activities facilitated by the use of Internet Protocol or higher demand due to price reductions resulting from efficiency gains, et cetera.  These are the so‑called rebound affects.  Research shows that rebound affects so far outweigh any eco efficiency gains that may have been achieved thanks to the use of Internet Protocol.  This is the first point that I would like you to keep in mind in view of the ensuing discussion.

The second one concerns the types of measures we may take to decrease the environmental footprint of our use of digital technology.  There are three of them.  We'll try to improve the efficiency of processes.  We can try to improve the circulatory of resources.  Think for example of recycle, slowing down of usage cycles or we can decrease channel consumption and production levels.  Measures of this effect is generally referred to as sufficiency measures.  Let's try to keep in mind all three of them during our discussion.

Before I give the floor to our panelists, we have come to our first poll.  We would like you to answer one question in order to find out what are the main issues that we need to reresolve as a global community.

Go to menti.com and then use the code that's shown here and answer the question that is shown on the screen from your point of view, from your point of view, what are the main reasons why important environmental issues remain unresolved to this day?

I hope we'll see your answers coming in.

You will see the answers coming in.

It is still moving.  I think we can slowly try to interpret the result.

What you see, on the left‑hand side, there is data, and then the two following items from the left are about understanding.  The fourth one, it is about awareness, and to the right, they're more about framework conditions and what we see now here in this group what, we think where we have the biggest lack, inefficient political impetus.

The following ones, laziness, inconvenience in everyday life, these are kind of a psychological factor as well as insufficient international cooperation.  I will leave it here.  I think it is quite typical for this group to focus on these and it doesn't surprise me to have that first.  What doesn't surprise me either is that we have the tendency that data is kind of there, understanding largely of natural phenomena, it is there.  Maybe hear what's interesting to see in a study we did in Switzerland, we didn't have inefficient understanding of the environmental technologies that also ranks high here.

We'll leave it to that.

We'll move through our panel discussion.  Let me introduce our first panelist.  First on the list, Andrea Halmos, working as a policy officer in the smart mobility and learning unit with the European Commission in Brussels and the current activities focus on helping cities and communities better harness data and artificial intelligence in order to meet environmental and climate objectives.

The floor is yours for 3 minutes input.

>> ANDREA HALMOS: Thank you very much for inviting me.

Indeed, I would like to just put the discussion into context, and perhaps address the comment that was made, that there is still a lack of political impetus, as you know, the European Commission’s strategic objectives related to both the digital transformation, so putting or creating, making Europe fit for the digital age as well as the European Green Deal seem to be transformational going ‑‑ as a twin digital, green transformation for Europe and this was also reconfirmed in the current overarching recovery plan for Europe.  The political impetus is there.

As you already said, there's a number of ways how to look at the link between digital and the environmental sustainability ambitions and in particular, you already mentioned that certainly we can look at digital as the environmental footprint of digital technologies as in terms of reducing the consumption of energy and in terms of the material use or waste but where cities in particular, smart cities come in the picture, it is more from the enabling role, as you said in the second, the third order effects.  Looking at how digital technologies can really help, for example, creating or dematerializing, decarbonizing certain technologies with their ‑‑ certain sectors with their enabling role, but also how they can, for example, change completely business models in certain sectors as well as how they said change behavior and the cities and the communities often have more ambitious objectives than national Member States in terms of the environmental impact.  What we also have seen is what really is needed, it is digital ecosystem, i.e., an infrastructure that would enable to better understand better monitor and to better address environmental and climate impacts.  What we have done, what we're doing from the European Commission's point of view, it is trying to create digital ecosystem for smart city, both from the connectivity as an enabler to actually have the connectivity for cities to manage this digital ecosystem but also from the point of view of having the necessary digital urban, digital platforms, having the right access to data and having the capabilities and applications and solutions to actually manage the data and turn it into more informed decisions, we know that cities at the moment, they use only about 12% of the data for decisions and we believe this can be hugely increased and working with cities, we try to help them develop their capabilities, for example through the use of urban digital trends.  We also believe that cities themselves, as public sector organizations have a particular role in making this happen and what we have done with cities themselves, it is to bring them together in a movement called living in E.U. movement, European movement that brings cities together to turn this Internet Protocol and the digital solutions into a specific purpose to link it to their environmental, climate objectives.  For that, we'll have some funding at the E.U. level and we're also working with cities to identify specific indicators on how to use the digital technologies for increasing the livability of cities and helping to increase the quality of life for citizens in cities.  I'll stop here.  We have, as I said, overview of objectives creating the digital infrastructure through platforms, data, and the applications, we worked with cities through political movements, declaration and movements and we have some funding available for them and I can elaborate on this later.

>> MODERATOR: Sounds great.  Thank you.  I'm sure we'll come back to you later on during the discussion.  Now I would like to introduce our second panelist, Sara Ghazanfari, who works with the European Telecommunication Operator Network Association in the areas of public policy and regulatory affairs and is based in Brussels and the areas of expertise are sustainability, competition policy and network infrastructure regulation.

>> SARA GHAZANFARI:  Thank you for the introduction.  Good afternoon to the panelists and also to our participants that have been joining us from Europe and beyond.

I represent the association of the largest telecommunication operators, just to give you the number, we count for 70.5% of the networking in Europe.  Let me just start by saying that we're strongly, vocally welcoming the ambition of the European Commission Strategy of the European Green Deal has put forward and our members have been put forward in the course of the past years different measures to cut carbon emissions and energy consumptions, just to give you data we have performed some collection within our members and it looks like data traffic increased between 2010 and 2018 by 1100% and carbon reduction reduced, and in practical terms, what our members have been doing so far, starting from the last year, end of last year, our members have been at almost 50% of energy consumption, using renewable resources and more policies have been implemented as we speak.  Many more members are committing to climate targets and thinking about tele company, the team and many more.  At the same time we're also deploying new and mobile networks, I'm thinking of 5G, it will also increase the energy efficiency.  At the same time, we're really deploying fiber networks all over Europe that as you know, it is expected to deliver increased energy and efficiency in terms of energy consumption.  At the same time, we're also working with regards to data centers, as you know, they're part of our network infrastructure and also of our Cloud services, so we saw yesterday the discussion from the European Commission, they have put forward, and I really look forward to collaborate with regards to the best policy measures in reducing an energy efficiency when it comes to data centers and Cloud services.  The other topic, we're working a lot when it comes to bringing financial aspects for example, Telefonica, they have put forward a unique option in Europe and we're doing very much on these topics and regarding actions.

At one point, it is really close to us, to our members, I would like you to look at us not like the other sectors but really like the enablers as mentioned by the European Green Deal.  The networks are at the core of the digital transformation and through digitalization and with our network, other sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, public administration, transportation can be more productive, more efficient, and then in turn greener.

I would like to close with a number that came up this number, in a very workshop that we had with members of European Parliament, the European Commission and our members and the tele company from our side managed to quantify the enabling factors and it turns that in 2018 the companies helped other sectors to reduce CO2 which is similar to taking 230,000 cars off the road every year.  We're talking about big numbers and I'm ready to take your questions after this intervention.

Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for this interesting input.  I'm looking forward to coming back to you with some questions.

Before that, I would like to welcome our third panelist, Andrea Halmos, a Belgrade based researcher at the DIPLO foe education where she conducts research on artificial intelligence, Sustainable Development and environment, Human Rights as well as other digital policy related topics.

The floor is yours.

>> ANDREA HALMOS: It is a pleasure to be here today virtually with you.  I will dive right into how DIPLO tackles the interplay between digital technology and environment and we do so in two ways, the first is through our modus operandi and the other is through digital analysis of digital policy, issues and trends.  I will start first with our modus operandi.  A large number of our activities, by this, I mean our learning webinars and training, they actually take place online.

This is since we established 20 years ago, well before COVID‑19.  In this context, I would like to share a couple of numbers with you that will help put things in perspective with regard to the positive role that digital technology, namely the internet, can play for the environment.

In 2019, for instance, we had over 450 students who attended our online courses for more than 120 countries.  Instead of having them fly in from their respective hometowns for instance to Geneva, Malta, courses were delivered online.  On that way, we were able to save more than 814 tons of carbon dioxide.

Roughly speaking, it would take around 30,000 trees to process this amount of CO2 for year.

Since we have been doing this for years, it adds up to a large amount of CO2 production.  I would like to mention that the online learning, the eParticipation, it is not only done for CO2 reduction.  Something that the IGF has been advocating for a long time is the increase in inclusion and legitimacy of global digital policy.  Online participation, especially allows this by allowing ‑‑ providing a platform that marginalizes stakeholders and participants from small and Developing Countries.

Now I would like to tackle the second point that relates to actually the substance of our work and our activities evolve on two fronts, the first, it is through the digital watch observatory where we basically look at digital policy and digital issues and trends.

The second one, through our webinars and policy research.  That's through a slightly lesser extent.

Our digital watch observatory for instance, specifically addressing the issue of eWaste and this refers to discarded electronic equipment, including our computer, smartphones, TVs that in themselves constitutes a rather significant technological issue.

We have gathered data from the World Economic Forum, for instance, that shows over 50 million tons of eWaste are generated every year, however only 20% of this eWaste gets recycled.  Statistics for the future are even bleaker and suggests that by 2050 we'll be produce producing double the amount of eWaste we have produced nowadays.  On digital watch we monitor the trends in the field of digital and environment and water and technology and we conduct analysis on issues such as circular economy but we also look at the relationship that tech giants have with, for instance, with the oil and gas industry.

We provide regular updates on these developments.

When it comes to our policy research, I would like to refer to one particular study that's titled Science and Diplomacy conducted in partnership, it basically explored how countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem.  Among other things, we looked at the role in the context of the environment and we found that they have to address issues like renewable energy, marine debris, water source management, and also energy in general.  We also found that the role that Boston Universities, they play a major role for certain countries like Egypt, for instance, that helps them strengthen their capacity in strategic areas like water and renewable energy.  This is basically in short what DIPLO does on the interplay between dataization and the environment.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Thank you to all panelists for your introductory remarks. 

As we don't have a fourth panelist today unfortunately because Reyna Ubeda is not able to join us today.  We have some minutes for discussion, I'm quite glad we have this time to go deeply into all of the questions.

To our participants, you're all invited to participate in the discussion by asking questions to the panelists.  You can do so by raising your hand.  If there is too many of you trying to ask questions, you can also use the Q&A session and our online moderator will try to pick the most interesting ones.

I will maybe start with the first question, I would like to ask Sara maybe to respond to it first, maybe other panelists would like to respond.  We have heard about efforts that are currently being undertaken with regard to the improvement of energy efficiency, the circulatory of resources.  There is no doubt that these measures are very important.  They are certainly part of the solution to green the internet but the question is, will they be sufficient?  Let's face it, the big elephant in the room is the rebound effects or the gains in terms of eco efficiency of services that have been outweighed by the increases in the overall demand and hence consumption.  What's your take on that?  This is a question from one of the participants focused more concretely on Friends of the IGF infrastructure, yeah, we'll have some efficiency gains there, we'll reduce the circular consumption but at the same time we'll probably increase demand and overall consumption.

>> SARA GHAZANFARI:  Thank you for the interesting question and to the audience.

That's an idea we're also thinking about.  Generally, what I can say, based on data collection, we have performed with our response, the answer is yes, Friends of the IGF would bring ‑‑ it is less energy consumed, I think we have to realize in a broader sense and our members are not only focused on Friends of the IGF deployment but they're implementing further measures for example when it comes to making a Cloud system or the data centers, they're working on systems to use less energy.  It is really a shared neither all of our members within Europe and beyond have been following but not only recently, but it had already started some years ago.  I think we need to also pick these efforts to add on top of what we said before which is the enabling potential and what we would like to call as a digital enabled value chain.  With the 4G and Friends of the IGF and fiber, then you create IoT and then you have the communication services which are boost by AI and data, and in turn they create, of course, a green application that the entire industry can then use and then make linear.

I think there are some layers and some sets of actions that we're taking on and it is a joint effort, the private sector is being deploying in and we need also the help of the public sector as well.

>> MODERATOR: What would be your response to that?  Are you as optimistic about that if you look at the overall consumption levels and overall waste from the IT Sector when looking forward?

>> ANDREA HALMOS: Well, I would say the answer lies somewhere in between obviously when we look at the pollution generated by digital technologies, when we look at eWaste we have the negative part, the digital technology plays earlier on I touched upon the role that tech companies, for instance, have when it comes to the cooperation and partnerships with the oil and gas industry.  For instance, we're seeing for instance Amazon, a company that can be considered as an oil company give than it produces gas oil.  Then we have other companies that deliver services and products to companies that produce large amounts of data into companies that produce large amounts of data that in itself already pollutes a lot and consumes a lot of energy.  Consumption, I remember there was ‑‑ we looked at some studies that was conducted on the amount ‑‑ on the amount of electricity that for instance bitcoin mining issues, in certain cases, it amounted to more than the energy consumption of certain countries.

We also looked at in the amount of energy that data centers consume and that is expected to Ryan Clough to I think 8% of global electricity consumption by 2025 if I'm not mistaken.

Then there is the positive side.  For instance, we have explored, we have conducted mapping on our digital watch observatory of how digital technology can help advance certain SDGs that relate to the environment and I will just give two examples.  The first one pertains to SDG14 that refers to water and particularly target 1 is reducing marine pollution, we for instance identified an initiative called Eclipse Environmental that gathers data, using strong surveying, machine learning in order to map the distribution of material pollution in the oceans.  Then we also identified for SDG12 that refers to responsible consumption and production, target 5 that looks into waste generation where we pin down projects like recycle bank, I got garbage that is increasing citizen participation in waste management as well as public private partnerships in tackling the issues.

I think the answer is, we need to have taken into consideration both sides of digital technology and it is not all black and white, there is a lot of shades of gray in between.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

How about, Andrea, you want to respond or say something about your take on reducing the overall footprint?

>> ANDREA HALMOS: Absolutely.  I put it already in the answer.  So the commission is working on a number of fronts in reducing the carbon footprint of the ICT Sector itself.  So through initiatives related to greening, for example, the data center, the Cloud, network, Telecom, also in helping reduce consumption of material use for devices and, of course, reducing eWaste, what I put in the comment box, it is that's not ‑‑ let's not underestimate the potential of Internet Protocol as an enabler, especially for example in the area of smart cities where we see that digital is used for a purpose and this is also what we're trying to advocate, and indeed it is a lot more about addressing Specific Needs of cities and we're very much focusing on the use of digital technologies in cities for environmental aspects and addressing climate change, extreme weather events and better monitoring or modeling different urban decisions with relation to environmental sustainability.  We'll be helping cities implement urban platforms to monetary data to actually implement certain governance structures to share urban data and also to experiment with so‑called urban digital trends and there is a powerful means for cities to create scenarios and to model their decisions in particular bringing together different domains in a city to see what certain decision, how they would impact the environment on a micro level and we'll look at it at larger macro level, the commission is preparing a digital twin of the earth with a number of forthcoming pilot actions and the urban digital twins will at one point be somehow linked to the urban services, this destination earth, the virtual image of the earth.  We believe that this could be a powerful means for cities to actually innovate in and model their decisions.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

Now I would really like to turn to our audience.

Have you spotted any interesting questions?

>> In fact, yeah, there are interesting discussions going on in the chat and in the Q&A section.  Perhaps I can just read out what is being asked, we hear a lot now about eWaste, the problematic eWaste and he's asking who is actually responsible for tackling this issue, is it just the responsibility that lace with the companies, with governments, and what is the most effective measures to tackle eWaste?

We have another question by David, from the UN environmental program, and he's saying that there are currently defining their core priorities and he would love to know from the panelists what they feel is the most important role that the UN could play to help stakeholders to lock and harness digital technologies for driving environmental sustainability, that's these questions, they can be ‑‑ now with the panelists to be answered.

>> MODERATOR: Let's focus on the eWaste one and move to other core priorities.

Who wants to respond to the question regarding the severity of eWaste and who has to tackle that problem.

>> NATASA PERUCICA: It is a relevant question and it is a pity my colleague is not mere to specializes on eWaste.

Who is responsible for the management of eWaste, there is an international convention, the Basel Convention that regulates the shipping of hazardous materials, electronic materials pertaining to eWaste.  So far, only some 90 countries have actually ratified the convention, nevertheless, they do not adhere to it, they still violate what they signed up for.

A particular point I would like to raise, in addition to the regulation of eWaste, it is ‑‑ the legal dumping that most of the time takes place in developing ‑‑ in the developing world, that produces the least amount of eWaste, also it has other consequences and this pertains to the rare earth materials whose mining is extremely harmful.  This is a lot of hazardous chemicals that are released and most of the time, child labor is involved, and these are all issues that need to be regulated and states obviously bear the responsibility for this.  We have a case where developed countries are shipping their waste to developing countries but it is also the responsibility of companies producing these gadgets and we have seen the initiatives for example from companies where they actually ask their clients or customers to return back materials that they do not wish to use any more.  We have seen also initiatives to introduce for instance single chargers for certain devices to reduce the amount of eWaste being generated.

At present, it is being ‑‑ it is meant to be regulated by the Basel Convention and we're seeing initiatives also from private companies.

>> MODERATOR: Do you want to add to that.

Should we move to the next question.

Sara, you want to add anything to that?

>> Sara Ghazanfari:  Maybe I can put in a broader term with regards to what members are doing with regard to the circular economy, I think eWaste is well placed in these regards and we're taking measures also when it comes to our value chain for the past year so we're, of course, selecting suppliers and products in compliance with the environmental sustainability criteria and we're checking periodically the entire life cycle of our products so we're also recycling the devices in the most environmental friendly way and we're also, which is really important for us, we're putting forward some leveling measures to enable our customers to be most informed and also in the choice of products there buying from us.  It is all of a set of let's say voluntary measures and our members, they have been implementing it in the past years and we see that these voluntary measure, the information sharing of Best Practices, it is actually working.

I think before regulating eWaste, when it comes to circular economy, you need to also have a look at what's already working and what the industry has been putting forward in a voluntary way.

>> MODERATOR: Wouldn't it be useful to have some pushing from policymakers both in regard to companies at the international level like maybe that they have responsible actors in developed industrialized countries to actually take more care of what happens in developing countries?

>> ANDREA HALMOS: Just to add to what you were asking, indeed, in the commission, we have a number of initiatives to address eWaste.  Particularly through eco-design, but also modular repair and recycle and we're also ‑‑ and also to what extent we can keep the device alive so I think extending the life span of the device, its components, it would add to this or really contribute positively to these efforts.  What we have had in mind, based on the circular economy action plan, and the big initiative around creating all kinds of sectorial common European data spaces, you may have heard from the digital strategy that there would be so‑called a Green Deal data space and within that, we're hoping to have some initiatives that will bring together the relevant stakeholders to agree on how to best share the data, the data may be public, private, may be personal, but whatever data that makes sense to actually create this digital infrastructure for environments so this Green Deal data space.  In addition to some of the work that we'll be doing for the smart cities, there will be an initiative to create some kind of a product passport to better identify where the components come from and what their life span, usage has been and that will eventually lead to, for example, even a data space for circulatory which will be a very helpful contribution to deal with all kinds of waste, including eWaste.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

You want to add something to that?  Otherwise I would suggest we move to the next questions?

>> NATASA PERUCICA: I was following the chat and a point was made around the responsibility of customers and I think this is something that's very important, we should all be aware of having two phone, two laptop, that the amount of eWaste that it eventually results in, and I think that the awareness raising is something that's also crucial in addressing this issue.  It is not something that only ‑‑ that only private company, the ‑‑ the public institutions can hear, but also it is us as citizens should also be aware of.

>> MODERATOR: Let's move to the question on the core priorities.  I think it was asked in view of the UN environmental program, but I would extend the question to ask which areas could and should the Internet Governance Forum facilitate, where should we foe kits on to coordinate the collective action at the international level.

>> ANDREA HALMOS:  Maybe on this some questions I would like to hear all of you, maybe saying what actor the UN EP or the IGF or some other international actors should do to actually facilitate coordination.

You want to go first. inches what's impactful, the work we're doing on the digital image of the earth.  There will be a lot of international cooperation on this.  It will allow for monitoring, for example, in different areas of the earth like oceans, coastal areas, and so on.  In this one, there is certainly a need for cooperation, for example, on data sharing, different image, so on.  That's one element. 

I also wanted to quickly just respond to one of the questions that I was looking in the chat about indicators, maybe we'll come to that later, that the commission at the moment is pulling together different stakeholders to agree on a neutral indicator for Internet Protocol as an indicator so if some people are interested, maybe I can convey that interest to the colleagues that already worked on this.

>> MODERATOR: Sara, what are the core priorities snap.

>> SARA GHAZANFARI:  I think I can echo what was just said with indicator, it is an aspect from the very South of Europe, there is a discrepancy on a variety of indicators that makes our lives also when it comes to the background understanding of what's going on and also to take us to a baseline and then measure our accessibility and others.  I think that we have needed a better coordination when it comes to indicator and also when it comes to maybe giving the right feasibility to all of the projects that our Telecom operators have been doing throughout Europe and also to connect, also to look at communities because I knew that we're doing many projects, but sometimes citizens are not well aware of this so maybe if we give the right visibility thanks to IGF and other fora we can also leverage on them and also create a better momentum.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  You want to add to that?

>> NATASA PERUCICA: I will keep it really short.

I think that the priorities should be non‑traditional stakeholder, so involvement of actors who are not traditionally involved in discussions on technology and the environment.

An example would be the gaming industry.  This to an extent has already been addressed in a report that was written by UN environment gaming for the planet.

The gaming industry, it is extremely attractive because of the large site, it is customer, audience, the users that they have worldwide.

In my opinion, it would ‑‑ it is one of the priorities, it would be to expand the stakeholders involved who can contribute to raising awareness, who can reach out to different individuals so as facilitating when addressing issues on digital technology and the environment.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

Do we have any further questions?

>> LIVIA WALPEN:  In fact, we have ‑‑ I mean, there are still one question on ‑‑ he asks if there is strong governmental intervention needed.  I think we have tackled this.  He can go further to the question by Herman, he says it goes in this direction, but perhaps I can still ‑‑ countries are struggling to implement regulatory frameworks and he's asking if there are ‑‑ if they're capable of developing an extensive, an adaptive framework to deal with technological innovation related to sustainable environment and as an example he says, he gives the preparation of renewable energy assets for new cybersecurity threats and other issues and that's something that's very concrete.

Perhaps just the second question, it is also in the Q&A, she I think is particularly interested in the topic of eWaste again, that we have already had, and he asks the panelists if you can elaborate on factors that have led to the success of such in learning from projects and policies aimed at the same thing in different contexts and she's giving the example in Switzerland and there is the company that refurbishes the tech and resales it and then they regularly report having trouble and motivating consumers to really bring in their old technical equipment.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

We'll start with the question about regulatory frameworks.  Are they sufficient?  Are countries able to follow?  You mentioned before that we want to track where all the materials come from, et cetera, all of the countries, are they able to implement them or is it something that's just for industrialized countries and the others will just lag behind?  What's your take on that?

>> My focus on Smart Cities, what I can tell you there,.  In the local environment, you may have other things that you don't have at the national level.  You have the right focus and the right innovation ecosystem to practice good practices.  We have been working with regional, local structures in learning labs and also with digital innovation hubs that will help administrations experiment with digital technologies and in particular from the commission's point of view, we have been working a lot with administrations to try to have them experiment with artificial intelligence and at local level, for example, a smart waste management, using artificial intelligence, it is a very interesting approach and we see that many cities have been working with that and, therefore, we are also in the future funding period, we'll be helping cities implement AI enabled cross domain solutions that will use artificial intelligence.  There is a potential there for the local level to actually experiment with innovative technologies, for example, better waste management.

>> MODERATOR: Any other thoughts on that?  You want to add on that, are countries able to implement in a sufficient manner?

>> NATASA PERUCICA: Well, I would actually ‑‑ I will post a link in the chat.  As part of this, we have mapped out, we have looked at which countries have regulations in place so legislation on eWaste, which do not, and when we look at the map, we can see that the majority of European countries have legislations in place and there was a number of countries in Asia, including China, India and Brazil for instance has proposed the legislation on eWaste and then when you look at the majority of the African continent, you see that countries do not have legislation in place and this is where most of the eWaste is unfortunately dumped.  Some sort of ‑‑ this shows us that countries do have the potential and the knowhow to act at the national level, how much some sort of experience sharing could help in the process and also what I mentioned earlier on adhering to the Basel Convention that actually ‑‑ that actually regulates the dumping of eWaste, there are countries that are for instance that are good at extracting like Japan that are good at extracting rare earths from eWaste and making use of them again for other electronic devices and even I think they have made Olympic medals from recycled eWaste and there are countries that have the knowhow on how to recycle and make use of the gadgets for something else.  There is still ‑‑ it is an unbalanced relationship.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Before time runs out, I would like to come to the last question, kind of switch around maybe from regulatory to consumers.

The question was whether ‑‑ it is actually ‑‑ are there good example where is it works to actually influence consumers on eWaste, more or lessen an involuntary basis, we saw it at the beginning because of this psychological factor, it is playing an important role, our laziness, our commodity, everyday life, it may lead us to consume ‑‑ what is your take on that.  Are you seeing progress there, or is it ‑‑ Sara, maybe you want to start with that?  I think your organization has been trying to influence the sector in a way to actually reduce consumption levels.

>> Sara:  That's a very good point.    I think the link to our consumers and our customers, it is really ‑‑ it is really important.  All of our members actually have been implementing different measures to raise awareness and I think it was a point that was raised before but really to visualize let's say the consumption they're undertaking, I think it is the best way to make them aware and then change the habits.

We know it is difficult to change our personal habits, but when you figure out what you're doing in a practical way, I think it is easier to go into a more sustainable way of living.

As an association, we're try, of course, to leverage on these Best Practices to create more awareness and also to share those and raise to an upper level.  We're also trying to work with other stakeholders which I think it is also something that will amplify our baseline and also to enlarge our activities.  It is a process that started some years ago and the best is yet to come.  You're learning on a daily basis here.

>> MODERATOR: Are sufficiency measures part of the upcoming funding programs?

>> ANDREA HALMOS: What's difficult at the moment, it is really to have a clear indicator framework on the enabling factor of ICTs.  We'll be working on that as I put it into the chat.

We will be certainly calling for projects and really large‑scale deployment of digital solutions that will address issues related to sustainability, the environmental sustainability and the climate issues.  We really are putting in for at least the smart city context the Green Deal, the Green Deal objectives as the purpose for the digital transformation of ICTs.

On engagement of consumers, so on, there is quite a number of applications and solutions that will measure individual carbon footprint, whatever, depending on the behavior of citizens.  What's really been an issue for us, at the E.U. level, it is to see how we can scale up these solutions.  For this purpose, we have been promoting through the movement that I mentioned earlier, the implementation of the interoperable urban platforms because that allows for an easy take up of solutions between cities or even for companies to bring solutions from one city to another.  Also, we have been working and we'll continue to work with the community of citizen science, citizens can bring an interesting contribution to all of these discussions, for example, through their data collection activities and when we make those contributions, we acknowledge them and we put them into the right format so that they can be useful for the cities and I think that can be really powerful and we have citizens better create dashboards and creating their contribution to the environment and climate objectives.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  Thank you, all, for this interesting discussion.  Unfortunately, our time is running out.

We would like you to answer one final question, I would like for you to show us the final poll again.

On the basis of what's been discussed, in which areas is international coordination most needed when it comes to greening the Internet Protocol?  Answers are coming in..

Promoting a circular economy, reducing consumption is third.

The consumption is going up.  It is like this Biden and Trump thing, it turns around in the middle.

We're settled, you can see the ‑‑ still people coming ‑‑ I guess you can see the main gist of your answers and I will now turn or   give the word to Ross, our Rapporteur, to give us a summary of the session outcomes.

>> Rapporteur:  Many thanks and many thanks to all of our speakers.  I don't know how I can possibly summarize such a rich debate.

In such a short time.

Let me try.

I have got 4 main points from what we heard today.

Number one, the Internet Protocol sector is a key enabler.  That's the crucial word, it is an enabler, be that in terms of connectivity, use of renewables in the sector, green financing options, and the use of data.  There is great potential.  This is brought to fruition in smart cities and the Internet of Things, distance learning, some examples of that.  The second point, however, there are rebound effects, is the enabler enough?

 

 

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