Green ICT Applications towards the Achievement of Sustainable Development

Green ICT Applications towards the Achievement of Sustainable Development

Zacharoula Andreopoulou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Emmanouil Stiakakis (University of Macedonia, Greece) and Maro Vlachopoulou (University of Macedonia, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4550-9.ch002
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“Green ICT” constitutes a new term in Informatics that describes environmentally sustainable ICT and the use of ICTs in the interest of the natural environment aiming to sustainable development. It encompasses innovative ICT tools, e- and m-services, and smart technologies in combination with green practices and green behaviour either for the ICT industrial sector or the ICT user/citizen that contributes not only to the protection and restoration of the environment but also to the enhancement of the quality of human life. Thus, “Green ICT” has become synonymous with eco-friendly technologies and software tools.
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are often seen as the way to limit environmental problems and improve the aspects of our lives under this context. At the same time, the production and use of ICT equipment has its own harmful impact on the environment. This study presents the meaning of “green ICT” and its importance of adoption. The goal of this paper is to aid in the understanding of green ICT, its applications, innovations and strategies, and to draw the attention of decision and policy makers in green ICT. Furthermore, the benefits and the improvements in quality of life, environment, and economy through green ICT are presented. It is necessary to understand that ICTs can reverse the current situation and that can constitute a powerful vehicle for sustainable development. Economic recovery and sustainable development are key challenges that all countries nowadays face. Over the years, ICTs have been adopted in several areas of our lives and work, impacting upon our professional and private life, offering convenience, and improvements. Furthermore, they constitute one of the most important factors of economic growth, productivity, and social development. ICTs play an important role in the economy transformation process and in addition they are a vital source of competitiveness for enterprises. However, and despite the benefits that ICTs provide, they also contribute to environmental problems, consuming great amounts of electricity and generating carbon dioxide emissions. According to the literature concerning the environmental impact of ICTs, ICT is considered part of the global environmental problem and the same time part of the solution.

It is accepted that ICTs can promote sustainable development (Hilty et al., 2008). Green ICT or ICT sustainability refers to an approach of efficient and effective design, manufacturing, use, and disposal of computers, servers, and associated sub-systems in order to achieve reduction of energy, emissions, and consumption of resources (Murugesan, 2008). Furthermore, green ICT indicates ICT applications that will optimize energy usage and will create a more sustainable environment. It promotes economic viability and cost effective management, including cost of disposal and recycling, while complying with social and ethical constraints. Green ICT attracts significant interest and it is assumed that it will be an important issue for several years to come. It has taken such extend, that companies are striving to compete each other in how much “green” they will be. The words “green” and “sustainable” are sometimes used in the literature without discrimination. However, the term “sustainable development” includes not only environmental impacts but also economic and social aspects. Therefore, it can be mentioned that sustainable ICT provides a broader view than green ICT.

Figure 1 presents a conceptual framework for a systematic approach of green ICT aiming to sustainability development in the context of global economic crisis. The framework incorporates problems and solutions based on ICT, involved parties, and categories of activities/applications that have to be chosen for green and sustainability.

Figure 1.

Green ICT aiming to sustainable development in the context of global economic crisis


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