2050Today Members

ITU – International Telecommunication Union

Contribution to climate action

The ITU leads efforts to align information and communication technologies (ICTs) with climate goals, working with 193 Member States and 900+ partners to foster a climate-neutral ICT industry and sustainable development while committing to internal climate action. The ITU is addressing climate change from within in line with UN-wide “Greening the Blue” commitments to ‘walk the talk’. Reducing negative environmental impacts is an ongoing effort for the ITU 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.

Through the ‘ITU Environmental Sustainability Statement’, in 2020, the ITU started to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS), with the aim of establishing a coherent approach towards sustainability management across the organization and systematically integrate environmental sustainability long-term into ITU’s internal practices. In the context of the EMS, the ITU developed an EMS Targets and Action Plan 2020-2030, with reduction targets and activities, in line with the first UN Strategy for Environmental Sustainability 2020-2030.

Additionally, to assess and improve the performance of ITU’s existing buildings, a methodology for assessing and scoring of sustainability performance of office buildings will be implemented (Recommendation ITU-T L.1371). Also works on Circular and Sustainable Public Procurement for ICTs has been developed, including  Recommendation ITU-T L.1061.

The 2022 Plenipotentiary Conference, ITU’s highest policy-making body, included the commitment to environmental sustainability in the Union’s Strategic Plan for 2024-2027. That same year, the ‘ITU Environmental Sustainability Policy’ was adopted.

Thematic actions

Energy

The ITU Headquarters’ 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 project for a new headquarters building. The new building will be linked to the SIG GeniLac project, 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. ITU advocates for energy best practices, encompassing preventative maintenance, regular assessments, energy management plans with behavioural, technological, and managerial enhancements, along with written, confidence-inspiring energy reduction targets. ITU has been actively participating in “La Nuit est Belle” to raise awareness of the issues of light pollution, as well as to add its efforts to initiatives from greater Geneva.

Food

ITU includes food consumption data in the information provided for the annual GHG inventory report, in collaboration with its catering provider in HQ. ITU also encourages its catering provider to engage and participate in 2050Today initiatives such as the competition “A Table” which was for the first time open to international organisations in 2023. A table is a gastronomic competition which runs for 4 weeks, where a large number of restaurants, in town and country, are making a commitment to healthy, local, high-quality food that respects our planet. With food accounting for between 20% and 30% of our environmental impact, we need to favour diets that promote locality, seasonality and biodiversity and limit the impact on climate change.

 

By taking part in the event, the restaurant is making every effort to comply with the following points:

  • Demonstrate maximum traceability for all products used, whether local or not
  • Offer as many local, regional and artisanal products as possible
  • Use as many seasonal, diverse and organic products as possible
  • Promote plant-based products and innovate with vegetarian suggestions
  • Demonstrate originality and creativity
  • Give maximum visibility to the competition
 

During the 4 weeks of the competition, the restaurants are judged anonymously by tester from the a table competition.

Sustainable IT

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, establishes targets relating to increasing the e-waste global recycling rate and to raise the percentage of countries with an e-waste legislation, as well as to continue taking appropriate measures within the Union in order to contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint and leverage insights regarding the efficiency of online practices developed during the COVID-19 pandemic (e. g. paperless meetings, videoconferences, etc.).

Waste Management

In an effort to improve waste management at ITU HQ, waste recycling stations have been put in place. They collect paper, plastic bottles and non-recyclable waste and can be found centrally on every floor to reduce the amount of unsorted waste from individual office bins. In recent years, many paper processes have been digitized. and there is also no longer paper wasted from publications as quantities are only printed on request. In addition, ITU has implemented various steps towards paperless conferences, this has led to three of the largest ITU conferences, organized in 2022, being virtually paper-smart. While ITU reduces the use of plastic bottles via water dispensers, since 2020 also plastic cups provided next to the dispensers were removed from staff floors and one free reusable water bottle was provided to all staff members to kick-off ITU’s single-plastic free journey. Single-use plastic has also been reduced through several initiatives with the ITU HQ catering provider. As such, plastic cups are replaced with glasses during key lunch hours and the amount of disposable food containers has been reduced by offering reusable containers from ReCircle. In the ITU HQ buildings pressure reducers were installed across the entire network, and automatic taps have been fitted in the Montbrillant building toilets. These cut water use by 50 percent compared with push taps. In addition, the ITU recommends a green cleaning programme to be implemented for all buildings with certified products and sustainability training for the staff.

Carbon Footprint

2050Today’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement methodology follows the GHG Protocol. The Protocol provides standards and guidance for organizations to measure and manage climate-warming emissions. It was created in 1998 through a partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

According to the GHG Protocol, 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).

 

The 2050Today carbon footprint takes into account the reported emissions generated by the activities of the institution over one year and is divided by categories.

Energy and water: It takes into  account the amount of the consumed electricity produced and purchased by the institution. The energy consumed to heat and/or cool the institution’s building area and the consumed water are included as well.

Mobility: It takes into consideration business travels and commuting (on a survey basis).

Food: The CO2 impact of food includes the catering of the institution and individual consumption (on a survey basis) during working hours. 

Purchased goods: The perimeter of purchased goods is set to a list of new office equipment, new mobility equipment (vehicles) and construction materials. 

Waste: The perimeter of the  waste inventory is set to waste production from facilities and internal operations of the institution

 

To ensure the reliability, accuracy and a recurrent updating of the carbon footprint assessment, 2050Today is advised by an international Carbon Footprint Scientific Committee.

It has to be noted that the collected data of the 2050Today members resulting in each carbon footprint are not yet fully standardized and might not be 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.

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

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