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Artificial Intelligence: Programs

Sustainable Digital Government

Led by Canada, this Group aims to research and share knowledge towards greening government IT operations.

This document was published on 18 November 2021

at the virtual DN Ministerial Summit in London, United Kingdom.

Sustainable Government Information Technology

Group Lead: Canada

The Digital Nations Advance Sustainable Government IT

As we navigate through the pandemic, Digital Nations members are taking advantage of the strides we’ve made in digital service delivery to examine the impact of technology that governments use and own, and finding ways to reduce its environmental footprint. This includes data centres, computers, electronic waste, IT equipment packaging, and toxic materials, as well as their lifecycle impacts.

This is important work, due to the significant impact IT has on the environment. Worldwide, the share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from digital technologies continues to rise as the transition to a digital economy accelerates. At present, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry’s carbon footprint contributes 1.4% of overall global emissions (not accounting for other external factors, like water use or e-waste). By 2025, the global share of GHG emissions from digital technologies is expected to account for 8% of all GHG emissions – equivalent to the current global share of GHG emissions from automobiles. This carbon footprint worldwide is only expected to increase as technology continues to become an even more integral part of our workplaces.

As such, Digital Nations members are beginning an important collaboration, taking a close look at existing and future ways to green their government’s digital operations through the work of a thematic group on greening government IT. As a first step, members shared their current approaches, policies, and strategies, supporting efforts to green government IT. These include, for example, sustainable procurement plans, specific greening IT initiatives, and broader public sector environmental strategies, like Canada’s Greening Government Strategy.

The next steps for this working group include collaborating to identify best practices and taking further actions to solve this common challenge. Members will also engage major ICT companies, academics, and think tanks to inform this work.

Watch this space for more updates!

Sustainable Government and Information Technology: Programs
Sustainable Government and Information Technology: Image
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