Statement of Mr. Fikret Akcura, UNDP Resident Representative, at the ICT and Climate Change Conference in Baku

Nov 24, 2011

UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan addresses the Conference participants

Dear Minister Abbasov, Dear Deputy Minister Aliyev, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s conference touches on two modern-day topics that have come to impact our lives only during the past few decades. Information and Communication revolution has favorably changed the way we conduct our daily lives and our business. However, Climate Change has emerged as a threat to our continuing progress along the traditional path of industrialization which is very much centered on the growing consumption of fossil fuels.

Fortunately, ICT is a sector that comes forward as a solution rather than as yet another contributor to global warming and climate change. Direct contribution of ICT to greenhouse gas emissions globally is only 2 to 2.5 per cent. At the opening of the ICT Exhibition yesterday afternoon, we learned that in the European Union, ICT consumes 8% of EU's total energy and generates 4% of its emissions. The bulk of the problem is caused by transport, manufacturing, commercial and residential sectors.

For example, 23% of the carbon emissions globally is through transport sector. Here, ICT has great potential to reduce the need to travel by making available voice and data transmission at high speeds and reliability. Moreover, the rapidly emerging ICT areas of telecommuting, e-government, e-commerce, education via Internet, video- and tele-conferencing have great potential for much decreasing the demand for land and air transport. These ICT tools shrink distances and facilitate the conduct of personal and professional business, leading to not only the cutting down of travel but also significantly improve personal comfort.

The emissions causing global climate change arise from four factors: population, economic activity per person, energy intensity of economic activity and carbon intensity of energy supply. Of those four factors, the last two are open to reduction through science, technology and regulation. ICT can make a major contribution to decreasing the energy intensity of economic activity through smart systems that are embedded in the cars, trucks, planes, buildings, appliances, manufacturing processes that make them much more efficient.

Getting more GDP out of less energy, that is increasing energy efficiency, has been a long-term trend. With smart phones, we are already seeing so many applications that improve our living standards while also generating more value for less energy. Through more intelligent use of information technology and electronic sensors associated with them, many sectors will increasingly produce more quality and quantity while consuming less energy. This will be a win-win situation made possible with more imaginative application of ICT to ever broadening fields of human enterprise.

Azerbaijan's National ICT Strategy promotes a widening use of ICT tools to raise efficiency and transparency in the public sector, and recognizes innovation as one of the underlying principles for ICT application. Azerbaijan is also well-known regionally and internationally for its promotion of information society as a national development priority.

The UN General Assembly Resolution 64/186 on building the “Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway” welcomes Azerbaijan's aspiration to lead broader, regional efforts to improve the ICT infrastructure, and create new content and services. Together with those efforts, the annual Bakutel event which has been going strong for 16 years, firmly establish Azerbaijan as a major regional ICT force.

At the same time, it is with great pleasure that we are witnessing Azerbaijan's growing emphasis on solving environmental problems, within the framework of the 2010 Year of Environment and beyond. The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources has established an extensive meteorological network to monitor climate, implemented wide-scale reforestation projects, promoted alternative energy to ensure environmental sustainability and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

By virtue its mandate, UNDP has an catalytic role to play at the crossroad of ICT and Climate Change. UNDP has been supporting Azerbaijan in its endeavors to bolster e-Governance initiatives across the public sector, working closely with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, the State Customs Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Social Protection Fund and the Ministry of Justice. We are also working closely with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Industry and Energy on the implementation of projects linked to climate change, such as capacity-building for Clean Development Mechanism, adaptation of water resources to climate change and promotion of cleaner energy sources.

The United Nations is honored to work closely with the two ministries under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Abbasov and Mr. Bagirov. We are ready to support additional initiatives that connect ICT and Climate Change in the national, regional and global contexts. We will continue to bring the best international practices to the decision-makers and practitioners in Azerbaijan.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a fruitful conference and thank you for your kind attention.

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