Drowning in data – digital pollution, green IT, and sustainable access – WS 11 2017

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Drowning in data: digital pollution, green IT, and sustainable access – WS 11 2017

Programme overview 2017

Session information

Date: Wednesday, June 7

Time: 14:00 - 15:30

Room: Tornimäe II

Venue: Swissotel, Tallinn, Estonia

Remote participation will be available as well (details coming soon).

Session teaser

We cannot legitimately discuss Internet access without addressing sustainability.


Access, Carbon footprint, Circular economy, Climate change, Digital pollution, E-waste, Energy, Greenhouse gas emissions, Green IT, ICT4D, ICT4S, Sustainability, Sustainable development

Session description

Largely absent from discussions surrounding Internet governance and Internet access is the concept of sustainability. It touches on much more than merely the kind of energy supplying critical Internet infrastructure or cooling servers; it also relates to the sourcing, manufacturing, and recyclability of Internet-connected devices, the amount of power that is being consumed by information and communications technologies (ICTs), the energy needed to power our ever-growing data consumption, and even "digital pollution," such as unused spectrum or Internet Protocol (IP)/Automated System (AS) addresses.

Europe is a global leader in promoting sustainability and renewable energy, and considering that environmental challenges such as the proliferation of e-waste and worsening climate change, the EuroDIG community is in a prime position to promote sustainable access and concepts like the circular economy as it relates to ICTs. Given the Internet governance community's endeavor to [www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/policy-options-for-connecting-and-enabling-the-next-billions-phase-ii connect the next billion] Internet users as well as the exponential growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, it is critical that we consider sustainability when addressing Internet access.

Working with the RIPE NCC, this session aims to bring the concept of sustainability to the fore, and explore how the Internet governance community, specifically in Europe, can work in a multistakeholder fashion to promote sustainability within the Internet ecosystem.

Our intended aims & outcomes for the session include:

  1. Link the work of the ICT for sustainability community with the Internet governance community, and highlight the interconnection
  2. Promote sustainable access and concepts such as green IT and the circular economy
  3. Address why sustainability and sustainable access are relevant to Europe and the European context

We are also partnering with a local e-waste recycler (ESS – Ringlus) to provide an on-site, e-waste collection point for those attending EuroDIG to leave their e-waste


The session will be conducted in a manner that maximizes interaction using a roundtable discussion format. It will include key participants as well who can better inform the discussion about various perspectives on the topic. The agenda is as follows:

5' – Introduction to the session and of the key participants, and an overview of why the subject is relevant and timely.

20' – Key participant presentations (sharing a range of perspectives that reflect the various stakeholder groups)

60' – Moderated discussion with guiding questions (to allow for open and organic discussion relevant to the roundtable participants' questions and interest)

5' – Wrap-up and conclusion

Further reading

Select resources and links reflecting perspectives from stakeholders are listed below:

  1. David Franquesa and Leandro Navarro (2017) – Sustainability and Participation in the Digital Commons
  2. VOX (2017) – Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness
  3. Energy Transitions Comission (2017) – Better energy, greater prosperity: Achievable pathways to low-carbon energy systems
  4. VOX (2017) – Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change
  5. DEMAND (n.d.) – Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand
  6. Jason Koebler (Motherboard) (2017) – Apple Forces Recyclers to Shred All iPhones and MacBooks
  7. Arielle Duhaime-Ross (VICE) (2017) – No mining required: Apple promises to stop mining minerals to make iPhones – it just isn’t sure how yet
  8. Apple (2017) – 2016 Environmental Responsibility Report
  9. Michael Oghia (CircleID) (2017) – Shedding Light on How Much Energy the Internet and ICTs Consume
  10. Telefónica Internet of Things (IoT) Team (2017) – Infographic: 5 saving and efficiency Key Factors in Smart Energy Solutions
  11. World Health Organization (WHO) (2017) – Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment
  12. E-mail exchange between Michael Oghia and Vint Cerf (2017) – What fraction of the power consumption does the Internet (and its access devices) take?
  13. Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Dynamic Coalition on Internet and Climate Change (DCICC) (2016) – Linking ICTs and Climate Change: Towards COP21 and SDGs
  14. Michael Oghia (CircleID) (2016) – The Internet’s Climate Quandary and the Inconvenience of Practicing What We Preach
  15. David Franquesa, Leandro Navarro, & Xavier Bustamante (2016) – A Circular Commons for Digital Devices: Tools and Services in eReuse.org
  16. Emily Cox, Sarah Royston, and Jan Selby (UK Energy Research Centre) (2016) – The impacts of non-energy policies on the energy system: A scoping paper
  17. Danny Bradbury (The Register) (2016) Super cool: Arctic data centres aren't just for Facebook
  18. Karmenu Vella (European Commission blog) (2016) – To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we must change our linear economic model
  19. Hazas et al. (2016) – Are there limits to growth in data traffic?: On time use, data generation and speed
  20. CircleID (2016) – Data growth, IoT will lead to unlimited energy consumption if not controlled, scientists warn
  21. GSMA (2016) – Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals
  22. Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) (2015) – SMARTer2030 ICT Solutions for 21st Century Challenges
  23. Jason Koebler (Motherboard) (2015) – How to Fix Everything
  24. Jessica Benko (New York Times) (2015) – Making and Unmaking the Digital World
  25. CCCB Lab (2014) – How polluting is the Internet?
  26. The Atlantic (2014) – Inside a Massive Electronics Graveyard
  27. Leyla Acaroglu (New York Times) (2013) – Where Do Old Cellphones Go to Die?
  28. Greenpeace (2012) – How Clean is Your Cloud?
  29. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) (n.d.) – ITU-T Goal 3 Sustainability
  30. UN Climate Technology Centre & Network (n.d.) – CTCN

Additional resources on sustainability in Europe

  1. Rescoop.eu (n.d.) – European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives
  2. European Union (2016) – Green Digital Charter
  3. European Union product policy (n.d.) – Cool Products.EU
  4. European Union Resource Efficiency Coordination Action (n.d.) – EURECA Project
  5. European Telecommunications Standards Institute (2015) – Environmental Engineering (EE): Methodology for environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) goods, networks, and services
  6. European Commission (2014) – Study on the practical application of the new framework methodology for measuring the environmental impact of ICT – cost/benefit analysis
  7. European Commission (2013) – Towards an overall measurement methodology of the carbon and energy footprints of the ICT sector
  8. European Commission (2013) – ICT footprint: Pilot testing on methodologies for energy consumption and carbon footprint of the ICT-sector
  9. ICT Footprint.eu (n.d.) – European Framework Initiative for Energy & Environmental Efficiency in the ICT Sector

Additional resources on data center efficiency

  1. Google data centers
  2. Efficiency: How others can do it (Google)
  3. Google’s green data centers: Network POP case study
  4. Machine learning applications for data center optimization
  5. The data center as a computer: An introduction to the design of warehouse-scale machines
  6. Data center best practices guide: Energy efficiency solutions for high-performance data centers

Additional resources on e-waste

  1. UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (2014) – The global e-waste monitor: Quantities, flows and resources
  2. e-Reuse
  3. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) activities on e-waste
  4. iFixIt e-waste website
  5. WHO e-waste
  6. Solving the e-Waste Problem (STEP)
  7. Flashdrives for Freedom
  8. Pacific Hazardous Waste Management (PacWaste)


Focal Point & WS 11 Wiki Editor

Subject Matter Expert:

  • Chris Buckridge (RIPE NCC | Netherlands)

Key Participants (for workshop)

  • Mike Hazas (Lancaster University | UK)

Dr. Mike Hazas is a senior lecturer at Lancaster University, who works at the confluence of human-computer interaction and social science. His research combines qualitative and quantitative methods to understand everyday practices and technologies, how they can be related to carbon emissions and energy demand, and more sustainable trajectories.

Key Participants (workshop) are experts willing to provide their knowledge during a session – not necessarily on stage. Key Participants should contribute to the session planning process and keep statements short and punchy during the session. Please provide short CV’s of the Key Participants involved in your session at the Wiki or link to another source.


  • Michael J. Oghia

Michael is a Belgrade-based, independent consultant working within the Internet governance ecosystem. His work includes a focus on sustainable access, development, and digital rights. Michael is also a YOUthDIG 2017 focal point & co-organizer. For more information, see his LinkedIn profile.

Remote Moderator

  • Dan Waugh (Union of Students in Ireland | Republic of Ireland)

Daniel Waugh is the vice president for campaigns for the Union of Students in Ireland, and represents 354,000 students across Ireland. He is an Open Con alumni, an award-winning journalist and campaigner, and EuroDIG alumnus. Dan is also a YOUthDIG 2017 focal point & co-organizer. For more information, see his Linkedin profile.

Organising Team (Org Team)

As they sign up The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member.

  1. Suso Baleato (CSISAC | Germany)
  2. Suzanne Taylor (RIPE NCC | Netherlands)
  3. Alexandra Groza (Independent | Romania)
  4. Mike Hazas (Lancaster University | UK)
  5. Robert Clark (ITU | Switzerland)
  6. Amali De Silva-Mitchell (Futurist/Consultant | UK/Canada)


Elisabeth recently obtained her MA from the University of Graz. Her academic focus lies on human rights law and international relations theory, in conjunction with environmental sustainability management. Elisabeth is also a YOUthDIG 2017 focal point & co-organizer.

The Reporter takes notes during the session and formulates 3 (max. 5) bullet points at the end of each session that:

  • Are summarised on a slide and presented to the audience at the end of each session;
  • Relate to the particular session and to European Internet governance policy;
  • Are forward looking and propose goals and activities that can be initiated after EuroDIG (recommendations);
  • Are in (rough) consensus with the audience; and
  • Are to be submitted to the secretariat within 48 hours after the session took place.

Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes

The organizing team – hereby referred to as org team – took some time to shape, as the topic at hand has been traditionally absent from the wider agenda of Internet governance. The first pre-org team meeting was held between Michael Oghia (focal point) and RIPE NCC staff members Chris Buckridge (subject matter expert) and Suzanne Taylor (org team member) on 16 March 2017 while in Copenhagen, Denmark, for ICANN58 (the minutes of that meeting are available here).

Two weeks later, Chris and Michael met once again at RightsCon 2017 in Brussels, where Michael was able to connect with many new individuals who may be interested in getting involved. These include an energy-conscious data host (Greenhost), a sustainably sourced smartphone maker (Fairphone), and a member of the Access Now team (which hosted RightsCon) that cares about sustainability. In addition to Suso Baleato of CSISAC (OECD), who formally joined the org team as well at RightsCon, Cristobal Irazoqui (independent) met with Michael on 29 March 2017, and he agreed to join the org team as well but eventually had to step down. Chris also put Michael in touch with a contact at Telefonica, which has conducted environmentally friendly research, and Michael reached out to Google. As of 4 April 2017, Michael is still waiting to hear back from the ITU secretariat and Study Group 5, but he am also in touch with a contact who works at the UN's Climate and Technology Center & Network (CTCN) to see if he would like to join the org team (see these notes for more information).

On Monday, April 24, Michael sent the first message to the organizing team (available here), followed by discussion and follow-up emails (available here). We agreed to host our first online meeting (via Zoom) on May 8, 9, or 10 depending on the Doodle poll.

The org team held its first online meeting via the Zoom platform on Wednesday, May 10 from 14:00-14:30 (GMT+2) with Chris, Michael, and Robert present. They discussed the following agenda:

  1. Overview of our progress so far
  2. Review the draft agenda
  3. Discuss key participants
  4. Brainstorm intended outcomes for the workshop given our draft agenda and key participants
  5. Moderator, reporter, and remote moderator roles

Michael gave an overview of the progress made so far, and updated about collaborating with an e-waste recycler in Tallinn to provide e-waste recycling bins during the session. We agreed to simply the agenda to allow for more open and organic discussion, and discussed key participant recommendations (including inviting an operator to join the discussion (Chris will follow-up) and/or inviting Dominique Lazanski from GSMA). Michael will also reach out to Konstantinos Komaitis (Internet Society) who confirmed his interest and availability. Michael will also reach out to individuals in his network he knows are attending EuroDIG to find a remote moderator and reporter. Lastly, we discussed our intended outcomes, which include: (1) linking the work of the ICT for sustainability community with the Internet governance community, (2) Promoting sustainable access and concepts such as green IT and the circular economy, and (3) Address why it is relevant to Europe and the European context.


Get in contact with the Org Team by sending an email to ws11@eurodig.org or Michael: mike.oghia[at]gmail.com.

Video record

Will be provided here after the event.


Will be provided here after the event.


Please provide a short summary from the outcome of your session. Bullet points are fine.

Session Twitter hashtags

Hashtags: #eurodig17 #DrowningInData