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Tuesday, 24 April 2012 14:19

ITU calls for greater recognition of ICT's role in sustainable development

Just days after the Australian Information Industry Assocation chastised the expert panel reviewing the $10b Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) for failing to give any acknowledgement to the role of ICTs in clean energy development, the International Telecommunication Union has issued a 'call for action' to get greater recognition of the role information and communications technologies can play in sustainable development.

The ITU's call to action was issued by its Broadband Commission for Digital Development to co-incide with the second round of negotiations on the proposed outcomes for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in New York.

ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré said: "It is vital that information and communication technologies are given due recognition in the outcome of Rio+20 as ICTs provide the critical technological solutions needed to attain sustainable development for all humankind and the planet we live on.

"ICTs promote the integration of 'smarter' and more energy-efficient economic growth, social development and environmental protection. Failure to recognise the power of ICTs for development could very well lead to a 'Future we don't want'."

His comments follow those made earlier this week by AIIA CEO, Suzanne Campbell on the expert panel's report on the CEFC when she urged the Government to "more explicitly and directly include appropriate ICT solutions in the CEFC investment parameters now being considered," saying: "The ICT industry has the expertise, tools and skills that are pivotal to achieving the stated objectives contained in the report."

According to the ITU, "In a world where more people now have access to a mobile phone than to clean drinking water or a bank account, information and communication technologies, in particular broadband connectivity, offer an unparalleled platform to host an array of development services, such as mobile payment systems, e-Health applications, earth observation services and, increasingly, e-Government.

"Inclusion of a strong reference to the catalytic role of ICTs and broadband in the Rio+20 roadmap will help ensure solutions are found to meet the challenges of sustainable development in a rapidly evolving world where technology is increasingly central to all aspects of society."

The Broadband Commission's 'Call to Action' follows release last month of its report linking ICTs with climate action for a low carbon economy.

The report presented ten recommendations for policy-makers and global leaders to use ICTs to accelerate global progress towards a sustainable, low-carbon future. It also urged leaders to: "bring convergence to ICT policy formulation so that it aligns with other policy areas such as energy, health, education and climate in order to maximise impact."

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