2050Today Members

ITU – International Telecommunication Union

Footprint and emissions by scope

The 2050Today carbon footprint takes into account the reported emissions generated by the activities of the institution over one year and was established according to international standards by Climate Services. Mobility takes into consideration business travels and commuting (on a survey basis). The CO2 impact of food includes the catering of the institution and individual consumption (on a survey basis) during working hours. Nevertheless the collected data of the 2050Today members resulting in each carbon footprint are not yet fully standardized nor entirely complete. Data collection is being progressively harmonized and improved. Therefore direct comparisons between tCO2 / employee among institutions – be it in general or per sector – are not yet possible nor relevant.

According to ISO 14064, the distribution of emissions is done by scopes.

Scope 1 represents direct emissions linked to the consumption of fossil fuels.

Scope 2 represents indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain (i.e. purchased good or services, business travel, employee commuting).

ITU specifics

Mobility includes all tickets issued for staff in the HQ and regional offices, consultants, delegates and fellowships, as well as an estimate for entitlement travel. Staff commuting is not included.

Food: The CO2 emissions reported refer to all clients of the ITU cafeteria in Geneva, including ITU staff, delegates and other visitors. Individual consumption of staff during working hours is not included.

The employee number includes the “full-time equivalent” of all persons managed by ITU based in Geneva.

The weight of this CO2 footprint

If we were to give a concrete weight to this carbon footprint, it would represent the weight of the following number of elephants  :

(average weight per elephant : 5’000 kilos) 

515 Elephants

The rate at which nature can absorb this amount of CO2

This amount of CO2 was emitted in one year. How many century-old cedars does it take to absorb this carbon footprint in the same amount of time ?

(a 100 year old cedar absorbs on average 25 kg of CO2 per year)

103 176 cedars are required

Our contribution to climate action

 ITU as the United Nations specialized agency for information & communication technologies, plays a leading role in developing an integrated approach to the relation between ICTs and climate change, focusing on monitoring, adaptation and mitigation. While ITU works closely with its membership – including 193 Member States and more than 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations – to lead efforts to achieve a climate neutral ICT industry and to promote sustainable development using ICTs, ITU is also addressing climate change from within in line with UN-wide commitments to ‘walk the talk’.


The ITU Headquarters’ purchased electricity is derived solely from renewable sources and the HQ employs innovative building cooling systems, using water from the local Lac Leman. While a large part of the ITU HQ premises has been renovated to limit electrical consumption, the current focus lies on the preparations for the new headquarters building, which begins construction towards beginning-2023. The new building will be linked to the SIG GeniLac network, while engaging in the recycling of heat from data centres and promoting the use of solar panels on the roof to enhance the sustainability of the overall construction.

In the context of the UN-wide Greening the Blue initiative, ITU has been climate neutral in its operations since 2015 by offsetting its residual operational emissions via the purchase of Certified Emission Reductions under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Reducing negative environmental impacts is an ongoing effort and several actions have been undertaken throughout the past years including digitizing paper processes, virtualizing ICT servers, and strengthening virtual meetings and remote participation capabilities. Early 2021, the Geneva Internet Platform and DiploFoundation recognized ITU’s efforts at the 6th Geneva Engage Awards, where ITU won the ‘Online meetings and participation’ category.

To assess and improve the performance of ITU’s existing buildings, Recommendation ITU-T L.1371 – ‘A methodology for assessing and scoring of sustainability performance of office buildings’ will be implemented. This Recommendation provides a consistent framework to assess, score and improve the sustainability performance of buildings in ten key areas: Energy, Water, Air, Comfort, Health & Wellness, Purchasing, Custodial, Waste, Site, and Stakeholders.

Through the ‘ITU Environmental Sustainability Statement’ in 2020 ITU adopted a series of guiding principles to step-up and act on internal sustainability ambitions. In line with the first UN Strategy for Environmental Sustainability 2020-2030, ITU’s Statement also commits to establishing an Environmental Management System to systematically integrate sustainability across its operations and to support the continual improvement of the Union’s environmental performance.

Find out more about ITU’s efforts to address climate change