By Mae Kowalke
It will take dedication, teamwork and technology to achieve the future we want in terms of reducing poverty, advancing social equity, and ensuring environmental protection. That’s the message behind upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, this June in Brazil.
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) and others are focusing heavily on technology as one key aspect in achieving a better future. At a Rio+20 planning conference earlier this month, Philippe Richard, who heads up green strategy at Bell Labs, participated in the closing panel, where he highlighted the role information and communications technology (ICT) plays in sustainable development.
“ICT is a mandatory enabler if we want to succeed in time,” Richard stressed in an ALU Corporate Responsibility blog entry. “The technology required for making a difference will mean leapfrogging for many.” To help push successful sustainable development, ICT must also be efficient and ubiquitous. “Ultimately access to broadband must be a top public policy priority for inclusive global sustainability,” Richard added.
ALU has been busy working on ICT solutions as a component of sustainable development, through Bell Labs. Its GreenTouch initiative is a co-creative platform the enables meaningful collaboration as part of the green economy. “Alcatel-Lucent’s ICT solutions contribute towards the much needed, low-carbon economy, including perspectives relative to national energy consumption patterns,” Richard noted.
A key message during the planning conference was that long-term results for sustainable development and the green economy depend on technology investments that yield OPEX savings—rather than short-term CAPEX deals. ICT has a lot of potential in this area, but needs more investment.
“Unfortunately, we are not going fast enough because of financial and economic roadblocks,” Richard said. “Even if the best technology is available, deployment is hindered by those limited by CAPEX only based decisions. This is where UN agencies, EU/global policy makers can help by providing appropriate policy support and incentives (including carbon pricing).”
It all boils down to investing wisely and starting early enough in development projects to make a lasting difference. Smart procurement, coordinated policy and reward programs for transformative technology are all important elements in creating a sustainable green economy.
For Richard, his colleagues at Alcatel-Lucent, and others involved in sustainable development, ‘green’ is the next big revolution of the 21st century. With forecasted 27% increase in energy consumption associated with communications service provider networks now through 2016, the time is ripe to capitalize on ICT opportunities, including potential for 15% global emissions reduction by 2020.
“We have an enormous and still relatively untapped potential, to dramatically help other economic sectors to be greener,” Richard concluded.