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Market News

 July 21, 2010
Cyberspace and the Green Economy

  The International Institute for Sustainable Development urges Canada to secure sustainable prosperity by using the Internet and other digital technologies to help build a green economy and address the major social and environmental challenges facing Canadians and others around the world.

The Digital Economy and the Green Economy: Opportunities for Strategic Synergies-IISD's submission to Canada's Digital Economy Consultation- sets out ways for information communication technologies (ICTs) to really contribute to sustainability objectives.

For example, ICTs can support the development of the green economy through such things as improved energy efficiency and the increased use of virtual products and service. Smart systems are already transforming transportation infrastructure, buildings maintenance and production, and can also be used to improve monitoring of the environment and management of natural resources.

Changes in the underlying global governance structures can also assist sustainability goals through changes in consumer behaviour, attitudes and values, as well as opportunities for economic and social innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Just as sustainable development policy-makers have begun to focus on the role of innovation, market mechanisms, and social entrepreneurship in the achievement of environmental and other objectives, the ICT sector and ICT policy-makers have begun to recognize the opportunities emerging from the critical role ICTs can play as a key enabling technology supporting green growth and the development of the green economy," the report says.

It suggests Canada take a leading role in the promotion of "green ICTs" as the ICT sector needs to "clean up its own act". The ICT sector currently generates around 2-3 per cent of global CO2 emissions - an amount larger than the emissions of the airline industry and roughly equivalent to those of Canada, according to the report. 

"Canada's digital economy strategy should be framed in the context of the major economic, social and environmental challenges facing Canada and all other countries in a world where opportunities for sustainable prosperity and threats to human well-being are increasingly complex, interconnected, and global in scope.

"To do this, we need to seize opportunities and overcome barriers," it says, adding that it will be necessary to develop an action plan that maximizes the linkages between the digital economy and the green economy.

The submission identifies opportunities for creating strategic synergies between digital economy and green economy strategies through:

  • Green ICT products and services; smart energy grids, transportation infrastructures, buildings and production processes in all economic sectors;

  • Smart systems for monitoring the environment and managing natural resources; dematerialization of products and services in consumer and business marketplaces, and in government and public services;

  • Transformation of organizational structures and work practices throughout the economy and society; and transformation of values, attitudes and behaviour of individuals, as consumers and citizens.

The submission concludes that the digital economy consultation gives the federal government an opportunity to establish Canadian leadership in the development and implementation of sustainable development policies by creating synergies between its digital economy and green economy strategies.

 

The full report is available here

Source: www.iisd.org