Aware of this, and in response to the call made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007, ITU has made significant progress towards climate neutrality in recent years. The combined effect of the actions already undertaken, together with the recent decision by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao to offset ITU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, have resulted in ITU joining the leading agencies within the UN system in becoming climate neutral – as of 1 January 2015.
This is an important milestone for ITU and its membership, and the achievement is the result of many years of hard work identifying, monitoring and reducing ITU’s resource consumption – leading ITU to become one of the top performers among UN agencies, with a per-person environmental footprint substantially below the UN system average.
Examples of the actions undertaken include: purchasing electricity for our Geneva Headquarters exclusively from hydraulic renewable resources; using wet heating from a centralized gas-powered communal facility; and becoming a participant in the innovative ‘Genève Lac Nations’ building cooling project.
Other actions undertaken have included the gradual transition towards paperless meetings and paperless administration. Today, most of our major conferences, workshops and meetings are run digitally, and since 1996 we have produced our publications in electronic format, distributed via the ITU electronic bookshop. In addition we have prioritized the use of the Interactive Remote Technology (IRP), which facilitates full participation to ITU meetings without the need to be physically present. The use of IRP has so far led to savings of 24 million kilogrammes of CO2 – roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of some 17,000 cars.
Many internal administrative processes have been reviewed to reduce paperwork and improve efficiencies. Examples include salary slips, personnel movement notifications, and the recruitment process, which are all now managed digitally.
These actions allow ITU to lead by example, and to be a much more responsible global citizen, as well as helping us move towards being a more efficient and modern administration.
While there is still room for improvement, ITU’s climate neutrality is a step forward which demonstrates our willingness to undertake actions to contribute to the vision launched by Ban Ki-moon eight years ago, and to further enhance our ability to effectively address the serious and urgent challenge of climate change.
By: Malcolm Johnson
Malcolm Johnson was elected ITU Deputy Secretary General at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 in Busan, Republic of Korea. Mr. Johnson was elected as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2006 in Antalya, Turkey and was re-elected at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He serves as Chair of the ITU Climate Change and Emergency Communications Task Force.