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While climate action transcends sectors and regions and is an issue that all stakeholders have committed to, the world seems to be dangerously off-track in delivering the UN 2030 Agenda’s targets. How can the Internet and digital technologies reduce their own environmental footprint and help stakeholders get back on track to achieve sustainability and climate goals?

At IGF 2020, the thematic track on environment will consider and discuss:

  • How to develop truly integrated and innovative solutions to meet the UN 2030 Agenda’s targets regarding environmental sustainability and climate action
  • Understand how the Internet and digital technologies can be utilised to connect people, initiatives and resources across the globe, to aid in monitoring and tracking the environment, facilitating better understanding, prevention and more targeted interventions globally
  • The impact the growth in the adoption of Internet and digital technologies can have on energy use, carbon emissions, increased use of finite resources, pollution associated with manufacturing, and e-waste
  • The urgent need to identify and address how the development and use of Internet and digital technologies, as well as related devices and services, may have adverse environmental impacts
  • Understand the interdependencies between the use of Internet and digital technologies to preserve the environment, but also to threaten its sustainability
  • Consider how the positive impacts of ICTs for climate action can be enhanced while minimising any negative impact



This list includes both MAG-suggested sub-themes as well as sub-themes proposed by session organisers.

Clean and renewable energy
Climate change
Emerging technologies and environment
Human rights
ICTs' carbon footprint
ICTs' impact on the environment
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and big data for environmental sustainability
Management and limitation of e-waste
Responsible consumption
Sustainable cities/Smart cities
Technology development for climate action
Water scarcity


Related Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 6. Clean water and sanitation
SDG 7. Affordable and clean energy
SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13. Climate action
SDG 14. Life below water
SDG 15. Life on land


Overarching Policy Questions

The following high-level policy questions have been developed by the IGF secretariat based on an analysis of all IGF 2020 sessions under the theme of “environment”. The high-level policy questions reflect overarching concepts and trends reflected across all data sessions at IGF 2020:

High-Level Policy Question 1


Climate change and environmental degradation have become serious threats to humanity and other species. For humanity, these threats are related not only to our health and survival, but also to the economic and governance frameworks that underpin our societies.


How can the benefits of the Internet and digital technologies continue to be harnessed (capacity for greater inclusiveness of marginalised communities, etc.) while at the same time reducing their environmental and climate impacts throughout the lifecycle, from creation to use to disposal of digital devices?

High-Level Policy Question 2


The ability to collect, store and analyse data has increased exponentially over the years and has now underpins almost every aspect of our public and private lives. The borderless nature of the Internet means data can travel across the globe in seconds. And yet, international and national legal and regulatory frameworks have lagged behind in ensuring that human rights and protections available to citizens in the real world are also available in this new world of internationalised data flows.


How can the Internet and digital technologies be further developed and leveraged, particularly by sectors that traditionally have not considered themselves to be stakeholders in digital and Internet policy (such as the agricultural sector, construction industries, and retail supply chain) to aid in combating climate change and environmental degradation and instead promote sustainable, inclusive economies??

High-Level Policy Question 3


As climate change related impacts on the world continue to accelerate, leading to more extreme weather patterns, the infrastructure and systems that our societies rely on (such as roads and railway tracks, communications infrastructure, physical buildings, and food and medicinal supply chains, etc) face the prospect of increasing levels of damage and destruction as a result of more severe and more frequent floods, fires, and extreme levels of heat and cold.


How can the Internet’s infrastructure be made more resistant to damage caused by climate change related weather events and how can the Internet be leveraged, through developments such as big data, distributed networks of Internets of Things, and community networks, to monitor and provide alerts when infrastructure, systems and ecosystems face imminent threats or have sustained damage, with the aim of repairing damage before threats to human life lead to actual loss of life?


Previous Discussions on Environment at the IGF

Discussion of environmental issues have not been prominent at the IGF in the past, even though several workshops have addressed aspects of the theme. Where environment-linked issues have been raised, they have mostly been discussed in the wider context of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. IGF 2020 will be the first IGF to give issues related to the environment a prominent place in the discussions.


See also:

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