Enabling Sustainability in an Interconnected World
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are more than just gadgets meant to entertain. They are devices, systems, and platforms that are transforming how people live, work, and communicate with one another. Interconnected ICT opportunities have the potential to expand access to information, generate economic benefits, and improve Canada’s environmental performance. The opportunities for ICT to support sustainability are endless; the challenge lies in identifying and implementing those that have the greatest potential to benefit Canada.
This report comes at the request of Environment Canada, which asked the Council to assemble a multidisciplinary expert panel to assess the existing or potential opportunities for ICT to contribute to a “greener” Canada. The Panel, chaired by David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada, focused on a three-pillared concept of sustainability, which encompasses economic, social, and environmental benefits.
This unique, forward-looking report highlights a range of technological opportunities, applications, and practices from Canada and around the world that could help move Canada toward sustainability. It also identifies some common challenges to realizing these opportunities and explores possible solutions. The Panel’s report provides an evidence-based approach for assessing and understanding the potential of these technologies, and offers new insights about building an interconnected and sustainable future for Canada.
Having considered the evidence, the Panel found that the potential of ICT to drive sustainability is currently not being fully realized in Canada. The Panel determined that there are substantial opportunities to promote and support sustainability through ICT by building on existing Canadian strengths and capacities, in areas like technology adoption and physical and research infrastructure. These opportunities range from small-scale changes, such as household water conservation through applications that inform consumers of their water use, to large-scale changes, such as more reliable and efficient electricity systems when aging utility networks are replaced with smart grid technologies.
The Panel explored ICT-enabled opportunities within six thematic areas:
-Smart interconnected utilities
-Smart interconnected buildings and neighbourhoods
-Smart interconnected mobility
-Smart interconnected production
-Healthy people and healthy communities
For additional details and examples, see Chapter 4 of the report.
Beyond these six thematic areas, the Panel also observed that Canada is well positioned to be a global leader in green data centres due to its stable supply of emissions-free electricity, which can power energy-intensive data warehouses, and its cold climate, which can reduce energy needs for cooling equipment. Green data centres are one of many efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of ICT themselves as they enable centralization of processes such as server and network virtualization.
What existing or potential opportunities exist to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to create a greener Canada?
Report and Related Products:
- Enabling Sustainability in an Interconnected World
- Executive Summary
- Report in Focus (abridged version)
- News Release
The Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Innovative Uses of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Greening Canada is chaired by David Miller, President & CEO, WWF-Canada. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Innovative Uses of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Greening Canada page.
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