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ETSI’s Summit on Sustainability: ICT Standards for a Greener World

The ETSI Summit on Sustainability – How ICT developments and standards can enable sustainability and have a positive impact on society, took place on 30 March 2023 and focused on the key role of the ICT industry and related standardization activities to support Green initiatives. The event brought a large and global audience of over 220 stakeholders including operators, solution providers, policy makers and standards bodies or fora working on the topic.

A multitude of presentations including two interactive panel sessions, rhythmed the day and succeeded to make it a highly interactive Summit, pointing out challenges and how ICT can be both the problem and the solution.

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The opening session examined the sustainability challenges and global green initiatives from numerous global standards bodies and fora. One of the suggested actions was to adopt ESG (Environmental Social Governance) goals as an integral part of the company’s objectives. Another highlight from the session was the need for standards work on the measuring and reporting of “avoided emissions,” that is being covered by ongoing work in ETSI. Feedback from the audience pointed out that it would be beneficial to further investigate the balance of ICT deployments vs real needs. Do we really need to endlessly deploy new technologies, when exiting ones serve the need?

The following are presentations from the welcome address and session 1:

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The second session focused on the role of ICT in sustainability and was animated by two panels. The first one addressed the operators’ objectives and their plans for sustainability. The second one dealt with various initiatives being taken by solutions providers to meet the needs expressed by the operators and society as a whole. Suggested actions emerging from the debate included putting sustainability criteria in the procurement phase towards the vendors and enhance collaboration between operators, to share their common requirements and provide them to the supply chain ecosystem. In an animated exchange between the Panellists and the audience it was highlighted that there is an urgent need to reduce energy consumption, extend the lifecycles of ICT equipment and systematically recycle and repurpose in order to reduce ICT waste.

The following are presentations from session 2:

  • Session 02 – The Role of ICT in Sustainability: The session comprises two interactive panel sessions examining 1) Operators objectives and plans for Sustainability and 2) several initiatives being taken by solutions providers to meet those objectives. Session Chaired by David Boswarthick, ETSI
  • Operators Panel Moderated by Anita Dohler, NGMN Alliance e.V.: The purpose of this panel is to examine what are the sustainability plans, challenges & priorities for Operators
  • Saima Ansari, Deutsche Telekom
  • P. Balaji, Vodafone Idea
  • Marc Grant, AT&T
  • Luca Pesando, TIM

Solution Providers Panel Moderated by Joe Barrett, GSA, Global Mobile Suppliers Association – The purpose is to examine what the current solutions and remaining challenges on Sustainability are.

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The afternoon opened with an overview of ETSI, 3GPP and oneM2M activities supporting technologies for sustainability. One of the presentations highlighted that ICT should initially focus its own environmental impacts and consider digital sobriety as it is recognized that the cleanest energy is the one that is not consumed.

The following are presentations from session 3:

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The summit concluded with a dynamic exchange around what more telecoms can do to move forward in the right direction. ICT and specifically data centres create a significant carbon footprint, and there was a call to use the ISO Net Zero guidelines in order to develop sustainable strategies. The industry should adopt an eco-design (sustainability by design) approach and seek to have products that are energy efficient, with longer life cycles, recyclable and repairable.

The following are presentations from session 4:

As a conclusion it was agreed that ICT is part of the sustainability problem and must seek to reduce its own emissions, whilst at the same time ICT is certainly part of the solution and should be applied to other domains in order to help them reach their own sustainability goals. As a first step, making ICT more sustainable should be the #01 priority for the industry today and ETSI groups TC EE (environmental engineering), TC ATTM (access, terminal and multiplexing) and ISG OEU (operational energy efficiency for users) are currently providing the standards to enable this transition to greener digital technologies.

Event Wrap-Up / Conclusions is available here.

Should you wish to learn more about the summit, all of the presentations including the conclusion slides are available here.

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