ITU addresses conflict minerals, environmentally-friendly batteries

ITU has underlined its key role in green ICT with a raft of
announcements by Study Group 5 of its Telecommunication Standardization Sector

A meeting of the group in Seoul, Korea has seen agreement on a
globally-recognized set of methodologies to assess the environmental impact of
information and communications technology (ICT).

It also saw agreement to produce a report on due diligence guidelines
for conflict minerals supply, and to study environmental protection and
recycling solutions for batteries for mobile phones and other ICT devices.

After the problem was raised by delegates to ITU’s ‘ICTs and Climate
Change’ symposium in 2008, ITU took on the challenge and has pioneered adoption
of a new globally-agreed set of standards.

To ensure consistency between different approaches, the new methodology
has been developed in cooperation with other standardization organizations such
as ISO,
IEC, ETSI and ATIS. The new methodology is also aligned
with the Digital Agenda of the European Commission. 

This methodology has been developed by ITU’s industry members. This
will be important in ensuring it gains wide acceptance by the world’s ICT
industry. An internationally agreed methodology means estimates of the impact
of ICTs on greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption will now have much
greater credibility. It will also show just how significant a contribution ICTs
can make by reducing global emissions in other sectors,” said Hamadoun Toure,
secretary general, ITU.

I’m pleased that the industry is taking the task of measuring its own
footprint so seriously. And I’m pleased that the ITU, as a UN agency, is doing
such good work facilitating negotiations, reaching out globally to industry
sub-sectors and to other standardization initiatives,” said Neelie Kroes, vice
president of the European Commission.

New guidelines on conflict minerals

New ITU work on -conflict minerals’ will also begin in response to a
request from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ITU will make a survey of
existing due diligence requirements and guidelines concerning sources of
conflict minerals, as well as their use in conformity with recognized
international treaties and national legislation, where this exists.

Rare earth minerals are used in consumer electronics products such as
mobile phones, DVD players, video games and computers. Agreement to address
this issue demonstrates the ICT industry’s commitment to sustainability at all
levels of the value chain.

Following on from the success of ITU’s
Universal Charging Solution for mobile devices
(Recommendation ITU-T
L.1000), the meeting also agreed to study the benefits and disadvantages of the
standardization of batteries for mobile terminals and other ICT devices,
looking at energy efficiency over the battery life cycle, eco-design
information, battery lifetime and exchangeability, safety and environmental
protection, recycling and reuse. This could lead to a reduction of harmful
materials used in batteries and an increased lifespan of ICT products. Battery
manufacturers, device manufacturers, operators and users will all benefit, say

This has been the most productive and significant meeting in the long
history of Study Group 5. Twelve new important standards have been agreed,
including many critical to methodologies to assess the environmental impact of
ICT and the protection of home networks and next generation network (NGN)
equipment from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and environmental effects.
The meeting also saw revisions to a key set of standards on resistibility to
overvoltages or overcurrents of telecoms equipment. ITU is the only
organization producing these important global standards,” said Ahmed Zeddam,
chairman of ITU-T Study Group 5.

By Team
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