Last week, John Seglias, CIO of the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched The Greening Government a sustainable technology strategy for the UK government to achieve by 2020.
The paper sets out the need to endorse a clean and green approach to technology in the UK. This will be in line with the UK government's commitments to, for example, UN Sustainable Development Goals, carbon budgets, and fair and sustainable employment practices.
"As our modern world grows increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies, so our responsibility to deliver and use these in sustainable ways has never been more important," Seglias wrote in a Defra Digital column.
"It is essential that we use cleaner, and greener technology services and practices throughout the lifespan of ICT. This includes using technology to make energy efficiencies such as offering alternatives to travel, and continuing to reduce paper use and waste sent to landfill including packaging."
Green IT delivery unit
In light of the fact that the British government purchases most digital and technology services, rather than developing 'homegrown' services, the paper advises that the procurement process must be stringent and in line with objectives set out by the Green ICT Delivery Unit (GDU). This unit is also currently assessing the benefits and impacts of cloud services.
Some of the sustainability concerns that could enter into the procurement process include those at the construction phase (e.g. are the materials used sustainable, is the process energy efficient), the operation of the assets (using energy-saving modes), and disposal of assets (avoiding landfill, following the Waste Hierarchy, as well as considering more sustainable options like leasing, which grants a longer life to particular technologies).
The GDU will launch a full repository of all industry codes and standards addressing these areas in the upcoming months.
The overall vision of The Greening Government expresses a desire that by 2020, the British government can show marked improvement on all of these fronts. Seglias will be instrumental in ensuring that this vision is realised, and called for collaboration between bodies to give the strategy the best chance of succeeding.
"Key to the strategy's success will be close working with a wide range of stakeholders from across industry, academia, UK government and professional bodies," Seglias added.
"I encourage you all to read about these challenges and opportunities and to find out how we can all play our part in this vital area."