“ICTs as Enablers of the Green Economy: A Brief on Internet Policy Issues” IISD

Sep 22, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Don MacLean, IISD, 2011. Commentary, copyright: IISD

Today more than a quarter of the world’s people use the Internet and more than two thirds have mobile phone subscriptions. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that Internet-related consumption and expenditure is now bigger than agriculture or energy. It also found that the Internet’s total contribution to global GDP is bigger than that of Canada or Spain. As a result of its economic impact, the OECD has stated that “as the services it supports become pervasive, ubiquitous and more essential in everyday life, the economy is increasingly the Internet economy”.

In addition to these economic impacts, the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) have enabled significant changes in social structures, human behaviour, and governance processes. This has given rise to new opportunities for enabling the development of the green economy — for example, through the deployment of smart systems that increase efficiency in the energy, transportation, building and manufacturing sectors, as well as through the dematerialization of products, services and transactions throughout the economy and society. It has also given rise to new challenges, such as reducing the toxic waste and greenhouse gas emissions produced by the ICT sector itself.

In recent years ICT policy-makers have begun to analyze these opportunities and challenges with the aim of identifying key issues related to the role of the Internet and other ICTs in green growth and recommending appropriate lines of action to their stakeholders. The purpose of this policy brief is to summarize the results of this work for green economy policy makers, so that they can begin to consider the potential benefits of closer collaboration with ICT policy-makers on issues of common concern.

Access the policy brief here.  

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development 

The world is challenged by a changing climate, biodiversity loss, abject poverty and environmental degradation. What can make a difference? Good ideas. Creativity. Passion. Innovation. The achievement of change. 

IISD is in the business of promoting change towards sustainable development. As a policy research institute dedicated to effective communication of our findings, we engage decision-makers in government, business, NGOs and other sectors in the development and implementation of policies that are simultaneously beneficial to the global economy, the global environment and to social well-being. 

In the pursuit of sustainable development, we promote open and effective international negotiation processes. And we believe fervently in the importance of building our own institutional capacity while helping our partner organizations in the developing world to excel. 

Established in 1990, IISD is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization with a diverse team of more than 150 people located in more than 30 countries. Through our dynamic portfolio of projects, we partner with more than 200 organizations throughout the world. To learn more about our history, please visit the IISD Timeline. 

Click here to learn more about our project work and programs, which are guided by our strategic institutional directions. And please visit our IISD Linkages site to follow our coverage of international negotiations on environment and development. 

IISD is registered as a charitable organization in Canada and has 501(c)(3) status in the United States. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Environment Canada, and from the Province of Manitoba. The Institute receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector.

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