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Information and communications technologies (ICT) can bring far-ranging levels of sustainable prosperity and opportunity to all corners of the world within the next 15 years, according to research published this week by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture.

The report, SMARTer2030, shows that as smart phones, networked sensors, smart grids and other ICT devices become faster, cheaper and more available globally, they have the potential to deliver profound environmental, economic and social benefits. These include a 20 percent reduction of global carbon emissions by 2030, over $11 trillion dollars in new economic benefits, the ability to extend e-healthcare to an additional 1.6 billion more people worldwide, and an estimated 30% increase in agriculture yields.

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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres listens as GeSI Chairman Luis Neves presents key findings
from the SMARTer2030 report at a press conference at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn

“Our findings show an ICT-enabled world by 2030 that is cleaner, healthier and more prosperous with greater opportunities for individuals everywhere,” said Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI.

Major findings of the study include:

  • ICT can enable a 20 percent reduction of global CO2e emissions by 2030. Besides the environmental benefits, this dramatic shift also means that policy or business leaders would no longer be forced to make tradeoffs between economic prosperity and environmental protection.
  • ICT emissions as a percentage of global emissions—and in absolute quantities—will decrease over time. The SMARTer2030 report shows the ICT emissions “footprint” is expected to decrease to 1.97 percent of global emissions by 2030 compared to 2.3 percent forecast by 2020.
  • ICT offers significant environmental benefits in addition to reducing carbon emissions. The most substantial benefits identified by this study include: increasing agricultural crop yields by 30 percent, saving 25 billion barrels of oil per year and saving 300 trillion liters of water per year.
  • An assessment of eight sectors of the global economy—energy, food, manufacturing, health, building, work/business, learning, mobility/logistics—shows that ICT could generate over $11 trillion in economic benefits per year by 2030, the equivalent of China’s annual GDP in 2015.
  • ICT will connect 2.5 billion additional people to the “knowledge economy” by 2030, giving 1.6 billion more people access to healthcare and a half-billion more people access to e-learning tools.

  • Worldwide growth of the digital economy continues to accelerate, providing the scale necessary to drive greater connectivity and new, disruptive business models. And, as opposed to the old production-line economy, individuals are firmly in the center of this process.

“The SMARTer2030 report comes six months before the crucial United Nations climate change conference in Paris in 2015,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “The long term outcome of the new agreement requires a peaking of global emissions in ten years’ time and a dramatic bending of the emissions curve thereafter. This report underlines the pivotal role of ICT in assisting to achieve these aims.”

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GeSI and Accenture partnered with the UNFCCC to launch the SMARTer2030 report at a press conference

Peter Lacy, managing director of Accenture Strategy, said: “This US$11 trillion opportunity shows that digital can improve the financial and business case for investing in socially and environmentally responsible products and services. Not only are new technologies easily available, but they are able to directly improve the quality of people’s lives. And they are now able to do so at massive scale, enabling sustainable business models to become mainstream and a source of competitiveness and growth.”

SMARTer2030 identifies three key stakeholder groups and recommends key actions they can prioritise for a more sustainable, profitable future:

  • Policy makers should create the right policy environment. In particular, setting national CO2 targets, recognizing the critical role of ICT, creating investment incentives to connect the unconnected with new infrastructure and ensuring a stable and balanced regulatory approach to ICT.
  • Businesses should recognize the growth and innovation opportunities enabled by ICT that make sustainable investments viable.
  • Consumers should be encouraged to adopt technology solutions that promote resource efficiency, such as those typified by the sharing economy.

Visit smarter2030.gesi.org for more information.

Contacts:

Chiara Venturini
Global e-Sustainability Initiative
+ 32 473 450 248
chiara.venturini@gesi.org

Matthew McGuinness
Accenture
+ 1 917 282 7187
matthew.mcguinness@accenture.com

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