Greening Internet Governance, Part II – Enabling an Environmentally Sustainable Digital Transformation in Europe – FS 01 2021
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Date: Tuesday, 29 June 2021
Time: 10:30 - 13:15 CEST (UTC+2)
Now is the time for Europe to integrate sustainability and digitalisation via concrete action with the EuroDIG community. Tomorrow will be too little too late. How do we make ICT more sustainable, and how do ICTs enable us to achieve greater sustainability in society and economics?
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Over the past year, the EuroDIG community has been addressing information and communications technology (ICT) sustainability and the crucial role of the Internet governance community in ensuring that environmental sustainability is at the heart of ICTs throughout their lifecycle. We are at a critical junction given the urgency of the topic coupled with a policy and regulatory environment that recognises the need for more concerted action vis-a-vis digitisation and sustainability – from the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Agenda, to the post-COVID recovery plans and the UN's Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
One year later, what has been achieved in Europe? What are the most prominent challenges? What else must be done to support all stakeholders in their respective roles towards greening Internet governance and the ICT ecosystem more broadly? What concrete commitments, collaborations, and plans for action are underway to develop rights-based and sustainable technologies as well as to ensure that technology is put in the service of solving the climate crisis and promoting environmental justice?
This session builds on EuroDIG 2020 Plenary 4: Greening Internet Governance to review the progress made since EuroDIG 2020 and examine concrete achievements and feasible action plans for a sustainable ICT environment in the future, particularly over the next decade in-line with the EU's digital action plan and Green Deal strategies. It also constitutes the launch of the EuroDIG intersessional project, Greening Internet Governance, which will draw on the discussions had during this session to elaborate upon via concrete actions and recommendations over the coming period.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the online nature of EuroDIG 2021, and the high degree of interest in this topic, our session has been assigned a new session format called a focus session. This extended plenary session will allow us to dive deeper into the topics and create a foundation to launch EuroDIG’s upcoming intersessional project, Greening Internet Governance. This plenary event will be divided into three distinct, 45-minute-long sections (Input, Breakout Groups, and Output), with two 15-minute breaks in-between, meant to help facilitate the online format of EuroDIG 2021. The session is only the beginning of much more intensive work to come, which will generate concrete policy actions and recommendations.
Session emcee: Michael J. Oghia (co-focal point)
PART I: Input
Allotted time: 45 minutes
- David Jensen, Head of Environmental Peacebuilding & Coordinator of the UNEP Digital Transformation Task Force, and Co-champion of the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES)
EuroDIG Question Time (30’) – BBC Question Time style
- Theme: One year later, where are we now?
- Moderator: Alexandra Lutz, Parliamentary Assistant for MEP David Cormand, Greens/EFA
- Ilias Iakovidis, DG-CONNECT, European Commission
- Kim van Sparrentak, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA
- Ana Petrovska, Director, State Environmental Inspectorate of the Republic of North Macedonia
- Marjolein Bot, Lead Energy, Amsterdam Economic Board
- Max Schulze, Executive Chairman, Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance
- Ugo Vallauri, Co-Founder and Policy Lead, The Restart Project
Closing remarks for the first section & breakout group briefing (7’)
- Reporter: Vesna Manojlovic, RIPE NCC
PART II: Breakout Sessions
Allotted time: 45 minutes
The purpose of the breakout sessions will be to focus each discussion on creating 2-3 key questions and/or concrete areas of inquiry/action on which we can further expand throughout the coming months as part of the Greening Internet Governance intersessional programme. Each breakout room corresponds to relevant developments over the past year, as raised by the organizing team, and in-line with last year’s messages (available in the “Further Reading” section below).
Theme 1: Energy
Title: The POWER of digitisation
- Co-Facilitator: Alisa Heaver, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate of The Netherlands
- Co-facilitator (Rapporteur): Kris Shrishak, YOUthDIG
- Subject Matter Expert: Emma Fryer, TechUK
Description: This breakout session will be focusing on energy consumption for the digital sector, which is on the rise due to the yearly exponential increase of data being stored in data centers and sent around the globe. Besides data centers, which are well known energy consumers, the aim is to identify other partners and stakeholders in the digital supply chain that use a high amount of energy and to figure out whether it is feasible to optimize their technology to consider energy use as a variable.
- How can we get companies to change the settings of their data centers to optimize their technology to also consider energy use?
- What is the potential for governments and/or economic incentives to decrease digital sector energy use?
Theme 2: Circular Economy
Title: Circular and digital: Internet governance as part of the solution
- Facilitator: Leandro Navarro, eReuse, UPC - BarcelonaTECH, and Association for Progressive Communications
- Subject Matter Expert: Beat Estermann, University of Applied Sciences, Bern
Description: The breakout session will be about the circular economy of digital technology products. Specifically, it will:
- Raise concerns, challenges, and requirements (what information to has to be collected and shared);
- Devise ideas for governance and policy solutions (how citizens and civil society groups can organise, how public institutions can regulate, how information has to be shared, etc.); and
- Facilitate discussion on how to enable European citizens to be aware and act collectively to ensure the Internet rapidly evolves and helps to achieve a more sustainable society (according to the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic).
The outcome of the session should outline a list of action items with a summary description of scope, a measurable goal/outcome, an expected time to achieve it, who can lead it, and who should or is willing to contribute.
- What are the requirements for a digital product passport (DPP) that supports the circular economy of digital devices? That can include end-user devices, network, server, and Internet of things (IoT) devices or even any "connected" device.
- How do we assess and regulate the environmental impact of the Internet and the efficiencies the Internet can provide?
- How the European Internet community can organise to oversee, raise awareness, and act collectively to comply with environmental impact reduction (through the circular economy) required to mitigate climate change?
- How can we assess (via metrics, data, stats, etc.) the degree of involvement of the European citizens in the circular economy, as well as assess the savings and required rewards for those contributions (e.g. voluntary or mandatory environmental impact reports perhaps related to the DPP for circular behaviours)?
- How do we generalise circular public procurement in the private and public sector?
- How can digital inclusion and the circular economy work together? (related to sustainability)?
Theme 3: Regulation & Policy
Title: Delivering on policy goals for Green Digital Transformation
Description: Since the last EuroDIG, a number of ambitious high-level policy goals have been set in Europe. In addition, every month for the last three months, we have seen landmark legal rulings that are now compelling further action on climate at a nation-state level, with the full force of the law behind it. At the same time, the picture is less clear when it comes to the actual delivery against these goals. Without well designed regulation, or a thoughtful approach that drives the behaviour you want to see we will see a failure to deliver on the promises made at a governmental level.
So with this in mind, the goal of this session is twofold:
- Cover the greening by IT of the key sectors – For this we’ll cover some of the key interventions proposed, and aim to explore a few areas: policy patterns that have delivered useful change before, the anti-patterns and mistakes we want to avoid, and possible areas not addressed so far. We’ll cover the claims made by organisations for delivering carbon reductions in sectors - how we favour ambition and transparency, and the drivers to make these easier to understand, independently confirm, and mechanisms to challenge greenwash and exaggeration.
- Cover the greening of the IT sector itself – We’ll then turn the discussion inward - applying the same ideas to the IT sector itself, and see what we are missing here. What are we incentivizing people to do? Which actors does the current regulations favour now, and how does that match the policy goals shared earlier in this session? What approaches from other sectors may be worth trying that have been overlooked so far.
The aim is to highlight a few areas for future research, ideally ones that can be adopted within the internet governance community, to provide early feedback about their effectiveness.
- What action would we expect to see from key players given the current policy goals shared?
- What unexpected consequences may result from the current policy goals that we should prepare for?
- How are policy-makers able to see if the proposed regulations are having the intended effects in time to respond appropriately?
- Which actors do current regulations favour now, and how does that match the policy goals shared earlier in this session?
- What approaches from other sectors may be worth trying that have been overlooked so far?
- What lessons can we learn from similar sectors that would be applicable to Greening IT?
- What role does procurement play as a ‘carrot’, to the ‘stick’ of regulation?
- Facilitator: Chris Adams, The Green Web Foundation & ClimateAction.Tech
- Subject Matter Expert: Ilias Iakovidis, DG-Connect, European Commission
Theme 4: Green Business & ICT for Sustainable Business Models
- Facilitator: Marcel Krummenauer, Youth IGF Germany
- Subject Matter Expert: Lea Elsemüller, Green Youth, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Theme 5: Lifestyles & Consumerism
Title: All that glitters is not... sustainable – Breaking down the elements of regulating/incentivising consumers’ relationship with ICTs
- Facilitator: Weronika Koralewska, digital rights & environmental advocate
- Subject Matter Expert: Ugo Vallauri, The Restart Project
Description: The aim of this breakout group discussion will be to discuss what factors should be taken into consideration while discussing the policy directions on regulating/incentivising consumers' relationships with electronics/ICTs (in order to make the consumption and lifestyles more sustainable). We also intend to think about what would be the elements of successful regulation that would help the consumers understand which digital solutions are environmentally friendly and which are not. Ultimately, the main goal of the session is to construct the "problem statement" that will be helpful for the future development of EuroDIG's Greening Internet Governance” initiative.
- What factors should we take into consideration while discussing the policy directions regulating/incentivizing consumers' relationships with electronics/ICTs (in order to make the consumption and lifestyles more sustainable)?
- How can regulation help the consumer understand which digital solutions are environmentally friendly and which not?
PART III: Output
Allotted time: 45 minutes
Reporting Back & Discussion (35’)
- Breakout group reporting by the rapporteurs (10’)
- Present key messages & action points from each breakout group (2 minutes each)
- Use the Zoom Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down reactions to gauge audience agreement/disagreement
- Followed by 25 minutes of discussion
Session reporting (5’)
Sustainability intersessional projects
Past EuroDIG sessions focusing on sustainability
- PL 4 (2020) – Greening Internet governance – Environmental sustainability and digital transformation
- Flash 13 (2019) – Fighting climate change with emerging technologies – for good or ill?
- WS 11 (2017) – Drowning in data – digital pollution, green IT, and sustainable access | It also includes an extensive and continuously maintained ICT sustainability resource database
PL 4 (2020) key messages
- A standardised methodology and indicators are necessary to assess and monitor the environmental and social impact of digital technologies to enable evidence based decision making at the regulatory and political levels.
- Internet governance must include sustainability at its heart (core).
- To reduce the environmental impact of the digital world, it is necessary to adopt measures to optimise energy and material efficiency (circularity) of the digital sector. For example, increasing the use of renewables, innovating for low energy consumption, keeping devices longer in use, facilitating re-use, improving reparability and recyclability, and adopting sustainable business models.
- We need to make sure that the infrastructure we use runs on green power. We should leverage policy, and in particular the policy on spending public money, to speed along the use of a greener Internet.
- Areas where international coordination is needed the most are measures to promote the circular economy, to share environmental data, to reduce environmentally harmful consumption, to promote efficiency and enhance digital applications, and to ensure transparency regarding environmental costs and materials, as well as the improvement of data protection through technical measures.
- Regulations that increase circular production and consumption, ensure corporate accountability, and increase the reuse of devices as well as increasing their longevity are some of the most important policy areas that need to be addressed in order for Europe to have a sustainable digital future.
Selection of past IGF sessions focusing on sustainability
- IGF 2020 Environment Track
- WS #266 Sustainable #netgov By Design: Environment & Human Rights (2020)
- Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC) – Sustainable Futures I – video (2018) & Sustainable Futures II video (2019)
Reports, regulations, and studies conducted by the European Union
- Coalition to work on the standardised assessment and monitoring methodologies & guidance (link)
- Commitments of EU MS on investing in green digital transformation (link)
- European Commission (2021) – Energy-efficient Cloud Computing Technologies and Policies for an Eco-friendly Cloud Market
- European Environmental Agency (2020) – Europe’s consumption in a circular economy: The benefits of longer-lasting electronics (briefing)
- European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) (2020) – Electronics and obsolescence in a circular economy
- Council of the EU (2020) – Digitalisation for the benefit of the environment
- European Commission (2020) – EU Circular Economy Action Plan
- European Commission (2020) – European Data Strategy
- European Commission (2020) – Shaping Europe's Digital Future
- European Commission (2020) – Guidance for the Assessment of Material Efficiency: Application to Smartphones
- European Parliament (2020) – Promoting product longevity: How can the EU product safety and compliance framework help promote product durability and tackle planned obsolescence, foster the production of more sustainable products, and achieve more transparent supply chains for consumers?
- European Commission & the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (2019) – Digital4Planet: Plenary session at Digital Assembly 2019
- Lower Energy Acceleration (LEAP) Program – Roadmap | Program overview
- Climate change impacts in Europe (link)
- Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) Roadmap
Please provide name and institution for all people you list here.
- Minda Moreira, Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
- Michael J. Oghia, Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA)
Focal Points take over the responsibility and lead of the session organisation. They work in close cooperation with the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the EuroDIG Secretariat and are kindly requested to follow EuroDIG’s session principles
Organising Team (Org Team) List Org Team members here 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 by subscribing to the mailing list.
- Alisa Heaver, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
- David Franquesa
- Kathrin Morasch, Better Internet for Kids | Youth IGF Germany
- Vesna Manojlovic (RIPE NCC)
- Weronika Koralewska, Freelancer
- Laurent Lefevre
- Chris Adams
- Prof. James Crabbe, Wolfson College, Oxford University
- Didier Beloin-Saint-Pierre
- Dr. Monique Calisti, Martel GmbH
- Kris Shrishak, YouthDIG
- Amali De Silva-Mitchell, Dynamic Coalition on Data Driven Health Technologies / Futurist
- Rapudo Hawi
- Leandro Navarro, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
- Ilias Iakovidis, European Commission
- Fabio Monnet
- Simon Hinterholzer
- Mike Hazas
- Elizaveta Saponchik
- Florian Feillet, ETNO
- Marcel Krummenauer, Youth IGF Germany
See the "Format" above
Moderator / EMCEEs
- Alexandra Lutz
- Michael J. Oghia
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
- Vesna Manojlovic (RIPE NCC)
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page.
The organising team initially convened on 22 April 2021. Meeting notes as well as a summary of our progress so far (i.e., the brainstorming document)is available here.
We once again met on 18 May 2021.
- The implementation of regulatory frameworks that are practical, effective and incentive-based is necessary to promote the environmental sustainability of the ICT sector, measure its impact on the environment, ensure transparency and corporate accountability, increase circular production and consumption, discourage illegitimate exports of e-waste, and to promote material efficiency by increasing the reuse and repairability of devices.
- Standardised methodology and indicators are imperative. Increased cooperation, data sharing, and external auditing are crucial to assess and monitor the environmental impact of the ICT sector, avoid greenwashing, and to promote transparency in data and algorithms and enhance the “de facto” sustainability of the digital world. This would possibly imply different governance structures to provide access to this data.
- Education is a crucial tool for sustainability. On one hand, both academic and practical exchanges of young people are essential for the development of (new) sustainable business models, on the other hand only awareness and transparency can counteract the ever-increasing levels of consumption and lead to informed choices that will help consumers shape their relationship with technological devices.
- More support and inclusion of smaller actors (small and medium-sized enterprises) is key. Decentralization needs to be promoted to limit the strain of energy and resources.
- Sustainability needs to go hand-in-hand with access, as it's crucial to bridge the digital divide and decrease inequality by developing not only models of ownership, but also models of access.
- In order to maximise benefits from the upcoming "right to repair" legislation, there are needs for improvements on every level: users need to be educated in repair skills , manufacturers need to provide both modular designs, product life-cycle support, and data about every phase; and procuring organisations – public and private sector – need incentives and know-how to choose the products and technologies that initially might require larger investment in both money and skills, but may have larger return on investment over longer time periods.
Also, Gergana Petrova (RIPE NCC) provided a good summary on their live blog here
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>> NADIA TJAHJA: We’re excited to start EuroDIG Day 1 off with an important topic for all of us in one of our first focus sessions.
Greening Internet Governance, Part II - Enabling an Environmentally Sustainable Digital Transformation in Europe. This is moderated by Alexandra Lutz and I will ask my cohost to introduce himself.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: I’m Juuso, your remote moderator for today.
At EuroDIG we have open dialogue, we would like to explain the session rules. The main principles are the following: Firstly, if your display name on Zoom is not the full name, we ask you to rename yourself;
Secondly, you will later have a chance to ask questions that – we’ll have a question session. And during this session, you can ask for the floor by using the raise hand button under reactions on Zoom. You can alternatively post messages on the chat, the chat is not broadcast where the video is live on YouTube. If you post messages, the public will be able to see that.
We’ll be in the background to make sure we have a good, spirited, inclusive discussion.
With that, I give the floor to the moderators.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you, and welcome, everyone. I’m a core focal point with the session and I’m honored to join you as the emcee of the session. We want to dive right in the agenda to maximize the time for discussion.
We want to quickly just reiterate the format, kind of explain the format of the new session type. The first part, it will consist of a 45-minute long input session followed by 45 minutes for breakout group discussions, and then before coming back into the Plenary for the last 45 minute block for sharing the main action items.
As a reminder, you can find the full programme on our wiki page but the page, it may be kind of down at the moment. Either way, I’m putting it in the chat in case you have to follow along with the programme.
With that, I will dive right in.
ICT sustainability has taken significant steps forward since our Plenary session on the topic just over one year ago. From the European Green Deal to the post-COVID recovery plans, the U.N.’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, ICT sustainability and the impact that technology has on the environment both positive and negative is increasingly on the wider Internet agenda policy.
The aim of the session is to assess the progress made since EuroDIG 2020, and to examine concrete achievements and feasible action plans for a sustainable ICT environment in the future, particularly over the next decade in line with the E.U. Digital Action Plan and Green Deal Strategies. It also launches the EuroDIG Intercessional Project Greening Internet Governance drawing on the discussions had during this session to elaborate upon via concrete actions and recommendations.
To kick off the session, we are delighted to welcome David Jensen, head of the Environmental Peace Building and Coordinator of the UNEP Digital Transformation Taskforce, and cochampion of the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability, otherwise known as CODES. We’re delighted to have you.
The floor is yours, David.
>> DAVID JENSEN: It is a real pleasure to be here. Thank you so much.
I’m going to try to sort of give a context setting, a 5-minute opening if that’s okay, to sort of food for thought for the following discussion. I wanted to open with three statistics that really sort of keep me up at night about the evolving shape of the global economy and the role of data and Internet governance.
So the three statistic, just going around in my head: First and foremost, the fact that 60% of global GDP will be digitized by the end of 2022, meaning BDP will pass through some kind of digital channel.
The second statistic: Business-to-business transactions on eBusiness platforms represent 20% of GDP and are five times more than business-to-consumer transactions.
The final stat we have, 4 billion people actively using the Internet and social media around the world and 2 billion people actively consuming through digital platforms.
The consumption practices, they’re being actively influenced by less than 20 companies that are collectively worth more than around 12% of the entire global stock market. Those stats, they ping around in my head, I’m kept up by the idea that algorithms and code are starting to underpin and mediate all of our economic activity and transactions, as well as underpin much of our social relationships, our education, our health, our lifestyles, just about everything. If we want to have any chance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to stop climate change, protect biodiversity, prevent pollution in ten years, we have to start focusing our attention on influencing these algorithms and codes to ensure that their optimizing not only for profit but also for people and planet. I believe we need to be embedding environmental sustainability data, values, goals into the digitization of the economy in four key areas and this is what I hope we can talk about in the following session.
First and foremost, consumer behavior, how can we use digital technologies to really help consumers find sustainable products, adopt sustainable lifestyles and behaviors? How can we use these tools to really enable product comparability, digital nudging, gamification? And this is so critical.
This consumer area, it is so critical for two reasons: First, 65% of people in a recent survey say they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% of people actually do so. There is this thing called the attitude behavior gap, and the question is, can we use digital technologies to fill this gap? To reduce the gap? How do we make sustainability as easy, automated as possible?
The second reason why consumer behavior is so important, it is because about two-thirds of climate emissions are based on household level decision making. We need to be looking at that consumer level and how can we positively influence.
The second area to focus on, producers and the supply chains we need to enable businesses to measure the environment and climate footprint of their supply chains, and to easily disclose this data to regulator, to companies, to consumers. This is a fundamental prerequisite so that purchasing decisions and investments can be made on this information. How do we seamlessly digitalize supply chains and does close that information to the world.
The third area, sustainable finance. A big challenge we face in taking forward the SDG, the financial and capital markets are really not aligned to SDG goals and outcomes or climate action. To give you a number of the 95 trillion dollars invested in the global stock markets, two trillion is aligned to environment social and governance principles, 2%. So we really need to close that gap as well. We need to make sure that emerging fintech applications begin again to hard code sustainability considerations into their algorithms and effectively are used to mobilize finance for sustainability.
The fourth area, it is public procurement. Sustainable procurement policies, this is a major influence on market-demand dynamics and public procurement by governments drives an astonishingly large amount of GDP. 15 to 20%, it is driven by public procurement, how do we automate that, digitize that and how do we really help governments to exercise their unique position to demand transparency to the upstream and downstream impacts of the goods and services they procure.
Those are four areas I think we should really focus on. If we’re going to have any chance of success, really influencing these areas, we will need data and essential data and digital governance to be a part of all.
Seven areas must be taken forward in this framework. We’ll go through these areas, and then I’ll wrap up.
The first thing that’s needed, really agreeing on the high-value datasets that influential actors in the economy must have access to achieve their net zero goals and SDG targets and their ESG commitments. What are the digital public good datasets that should be out there that companies need to actually take forward their environmental ambitions?
The second, agreeing on how to measure and how to – how to measure the data and a set of taxonomy for the data.
The third is agreeing on unique digital object identifiers both for data as well as for products in a digital economy.
We have to look at how to agree to disclose all of that data? What’s the data disclosure requirements? What are the standards? What’s going to be mandatory? What’s going to be voluntary?
The fifth area, agreeing on interoperability standards, how do we ensure all of that data is interoperable, flowing freely across the Internet? How do we build an API for earth framework? How do we ensure all of the world’s environmental data is easily organized on APIs and begin to flow into other websites and applications of the digital economy?
The sixth area, looking at digital product passports, how do we allow or build this idea of digital product passports to hold the data and to manage the data in terms of business to business, business to government, business to consumer interactions?
The seventh area, agreeing on business models to finance this data, to finance digital public goods that need to be available to take sustainability forward.
The final area, Michael, you mentioned, agreeing on standards for creating ICT infrastructure and for fundamentally closing the digital divide in an environmentally sound manner. I think that’s where we need to go. If we fail to achieve these changes, my view is that digitization will simply amplify hyper consumption and lead to the acceleration of climate change biodiversity loss and pollution and a dead planet. We need to engage now to harness the direction of data, of digitization and Internet governance.
We’re playing two roles as we move forward: The first, it is developing a global environmental data strategy, UNEP, a strategy to federate all of the data and enable to us monitor the vital signs of the earth in realtime and make sure that that dataflows in the digital economy.
The second thing you mentioned, Michael, we’re championing, cochampions, for this new coalition for digital environmental sustainability that’s now part of the SDGs digital cooperation roadmap. That’s trying to work with all stakeholders to agree on the vision, to agree on the values and the priorities for connecting Digital Transformation and environmental sustainability.
On that note, I think those are so big challenges we face. I very much thank you for your attention and for this opportunity to present those issues.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you for taking the time to be with us, providing a good overview. It helps to frame the session.
A thing that I appreciate you mentioning, really kind of hitting home, it was the global nature of what you all are working on at the moment. I say that because while we tend to focus a lot on the European Green Deal, E.U. strategies, that sort of thing, it is a reminder especially somebody coming to you from Serbia that Europe is not only the E.U. and from Serbia and Albania to Turkey and Georgia, there is a lot happening within Europe and there is a need to really include all European stakeholders and actors in this, not just focused on the E.U.
With that said, let us now move to the main part of our opening segment, which has been inspired by the BBC Question Time Programme. It is really my pleasure to hand the floor over to Alexandra Lutz, the Parliamentary Assistant to MEP David Cormand at the European Parliament moderating this segment.
With that said, Alex, over to you.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Thank you, Michael.
Thank you for being here, thank you for EuroDIG for again providing such a good segment to an important subject today. Please help me welcome the panel today, six amazing speakers, that will roll out all of the ideas in the coming time.
First, Ilias Iakovidis, from DG-CONNECT, European Commission; followed by Kim van Sparrentak, a Green Dutch member of the European Parliament; Ana Petrovska Director of the State Environmental Inspectorat of the Republic of North Macedonia; Marjolein Bot, Lead Energy from Amsterdam Economic Board; and Max Schulze, Executive Chairman, Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance; and Ugo Vallauri, cofounder and policy lead, The Restart Project.
I will hand the question to the first person, and then you will all have 2 minutes to answer that question, and I will also make some comments, some precisions. For all of you, you come from diverse areas, and then we’ll open up the floor for Q&A and have questions from the floor maybe directly or in the chat.
That being said, the floor is yours.
>> MINDA MOREIRA: What are the biggest challenges and barriers we need to overcome to speed up the Digital Transformation in Europe and to ensure it is sustainability?
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: A great question.
First of all, I hand the floor to Ilias with an amazing chance to open the line.
>> ILIAS IAKOVIDIS: Good morning, everybody.
Let me just make you imagine that I am mayor of Amsterdam – we have a person from Amsterdam here – or I am responsible of an agricultural cooperative that wants to spend money for precision farming solution or somebody from the mayor’s environment that wants to invest in Smart City solutions, digital solutions for mobility, waste management, energy efficiency, or a World Bank investor wanting to invest in agriculture, other energy network solutions in developing country.
I have money, 5 million, 100 million, I want to ensure when I invest in digital solution I get back something that’s going to make the solution greener than before. How do I invest in that digital solution to make sure that this solution will give me climate benefits, not only economic, not only social, but environmental benefits? What do we need to get there? How do we ask for that as public procurement or private companies?
Private companies are buying things from supply chains. How can they ensure that the supply chain is giving them the greenest solution?
That’s one of the challenges.
For that, let’s discuss the answers.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Thank you very much. That’s very on time.
That’s a great point, having that information to make the right decision.
What do you think, Kim? Turning to you, what do you think are the barriers and challenges in this transition from the European Parliament?
>> KIM van SPARRENTAK: Thank you so much.
I think one of the main issues we have right now, it is that we really need to acknowledge the problem. There is a small group of people more and more working towards it.
When talking about, you know, the European Green Deal, the European for Digital Age, the two priorities that the European Commission has, it is rarely discussed as a combination of those two things. I think a main thing that we really have to make sure, it is that, you know, the digital age, digitization, it doesn’t cross the objectives of the European Green Deal. First of all, I think it is very important that we acknowledge the problem – I’m sorry, there is a big fire truck passing by.
Then I think it is very important that, you know, we’re not only looking at the combination of, you know, the Green Deal and the digital age as digitization will magically make our world sustainable. This is a narrative that’s been pushed for a long time and I’m – I think it is unfortunate, I think also the Commission is pushing this narrative a lot.
I think it is very important that we’re not only looking at the way that digitization can help the climate transition but how to make sure that digitization does not hamper it.
Another main issue we’re seeing, there is a lack data and information, there is a huge lack of information, we don’t know how much this is on – the ICT sector is on the environment. There is a big role to play for platforms and data centres to be transparent on the energy used.
Lastly, it is important that we have clear rules and standards for digital products, but also for data senders and, you know that we have a more clear idea of how much energy do we want to use for the digital world that we live in.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: That’s a lot of points. Thank you so much, Kim.
We have the energy problem, having the lack of information, as well as having clear rules and standards.
Now turning to Ana. From your national point of view, North Macedonia, the mining sector is important, it is concretely. How is this for you in North Macedonia?
>> ANA PETROVSKA: Thank you for inviting me to be part of this exciting event.
I would like to remind ourselves that the European Green Deal translates into guidelines with the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans in the associated investment plan for the Western Balkans, to say the funding is important is a prerequisite to address the digital governance that would be focused on environmental and climate change action.
For the Western Balkans, there is a single instrument supporting this agenda, the WBIF. And mostly this instrument, it is helping regional initiatives. The available funding, it is not so much focused on national issues which are related to advancing the digital agenda.
Then when it comes to the digitization of various information systems, there are two issues: One is the lack of data that was discussed, because the monitoring, it is insufficient, and the existing information systems, they’re also centred around the producers, not so much around the consumers.
The institutions are still working in silos. Better coordination and collaboration is needed, and also there are various initiatives for digitization that needs to be further regulated and incentivized. The private sector should be the major driver.
I would like to highlight that the existing information systems are managed by public administration on local level and the ICT skills in the public administration are lacking, and that’s because mostly ICT literate individuals are better enumerated in the private sector, therefore, we have the lack of ICT skills in the public sector.
I think these are for the time being the most important issues we would like to highlight that are important for North Macedonia and probably for the Western Balkans.
I’m available for information.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: There is a trend on the lack of data coming up. Thank you very much for those remarks.
We have this working in silos that needs to be more – seen differently, initiatives pushed forward, I’m turning to Marjolein Bot for this question.
You have an initiative at the Amsterdam on making this happen, what are the barriers and enablers.
>> MARJOLEIN BOT: Our economic board is a collaboration platform between organization, companies, business, governments and knowledge institutions, and we identify – set up this initiative lead energy acceleration programme where we work with the whole value chain, end users, hardware, software vender, governments, institutions, how do we create this digital infrastructure?
Digital is physical. Specifically here in Amsterdam, it is centralized. We have a lot of data centres. We have a lot of issues actually with the amount of data, and the amount of electricity needed in our electric system, and it is not going to stop. It is apparently – we expect that the data will grow 20 times in the next ten years.
How can we change it? How can we make it more energy efficient, and secondly we’re not going to get there with energy efficiency only. We have to think about more different models to rethink this centralized system that we have now in a much more different system.
We developed a landscape with solutions and scenarios to get there, including some barriers which we see along the way. Some barriers I already heard, but let me name a few: One, lack of knowledge and awareness, specifically with end users. Those are the people, the big companies that buy data, that buy servers, that need it. They’re not having this on the priority list to make it sustainable, to think about, you know, circular or modular servers, et cetera.
The materials, it is a very important aspect, not just energy, but also in terms – we heard it before, lack of policies, KPI, activating strategies from governance to stimulate innovation and to regulate measures that can be taken.
The third one, we heard it before, a need for a coordinator change, leading champions, there is not enough examples, good examples from companies to actually say hey, if they do, it we can do it too.
We have, of course, the tech giants, but that’s – that’s clearly not what some of the major companies are looking for.
Fourth, the fourth barrier, the technical barrier, the lack of energy and electricity. For example, the brown software solutions, for example, the fact that there is not many of the shelf solutions for companies to pick from.
There’s a lot, and I think I have overran my 2 minutes! I’ll quick now. There is a lot of knowledge. I will share the link to this document, I will do that in the chat. There is a lot we can do to build the bridge and work through challenges we face.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Thank you. Working together is the main word here.
I hand to Max in alliance on this, what’s your idea on working together?
>> MAX SCHULZE: Thank you for having us.
I think – I cannot agree more with everything that’s already been said. I will try to add another perspective to this.
I think if we focus on this target state, what we want, we want thriving local digital economies, we want thriving European digital economy A global one, and ultimately, yeah, it is – it should create prosperity for different regions equally ideally.
I think one thing I want to highlight, so we talk a lot about data, infrastructure, all of these different things, ultimately, yes, the Internet is global, innovation, digital innovation, software, it was always created locally because it is about bringing a lot of different things together. Yes, data, yes, probably fiber, yes, software competence, people that can code, but also – and this is often for different unique problems.
So you need problems that you can solve with digital technology, and what’s forgotten, there is 20 companies basically making up the majority of the digital economy. If we want to stimulate local or regional or digital ecosystems we have to bring all of the ingredients together.
There is some good examples, Amsterdam, other cities doing this work. It is all of the things that have been said before, coming together in a region and empowering the local businesses, local experts, local knowledge, local digital infrastructure, fiber, data centres, IT equipment. It can’t all come from one region, but it should be concentrated in the region to then create a local digital economy that can thrive. That’s important in my opinion.
The Internet can bring us altogether, but still at the end it should happen on a local level as well. Everybody can benefit from the prosperity that the Internet brings.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Local to the global.
Now, turning to our last speaker, Ugo Vallauri.
On your side, what’s lacking?
>> UGO VALLAURI: I’ll speak from the perspective from our restart project, the organization trying to inspire people to repair more products, prevent unnecessary waste and push for right to repair regulation and specifically from the perspective from the European Right to Repair Campaign which we started and now has members in 16 countries and it is growing and very much looking not just at the Europe made of the E.U. but also the country level work that needs happening to move us forward.
One of the key things we see, it is that indeed, there is a lot to do, a lot of in theory commitments even from the European Commission, endorsing wording such as right to repair in official documents and action plans and beyond. When you look at what’s happening on the ground, we see very slow progress and we see promise for regulation, but very unclear timelines, things being delayed, and also there is a disconnect between what the public is hoping to see happen with information on making more better-informed decisions on more sustainable products as you were saying and there is a promise of potential repair score indexes and very slow progress on this and we wonder whether these things are indeed seen as priority in more than just announcements.
We also see another disconnect between the speed of which manufacturers come up with new products and how regulation has to do projects, being behind. More and more connected projects, consumer products, for whatever reason connecting to the Internet, they’re dependent on long-term software updates and security updates to the long-lasting, not contributing to the growing mountain of eWaste, yet, we don’t see sufficient focus even in current proposed legislation on ensuring long life support for software level by manufacturers of products.
There is another trend we have to be very careful about. It is voluntary type agreements that are seen as an option to shortcut the amount of time to move us forward to more sustainable products and industries are failing us as others have mentioned previously, industry does not have the same incentives to really move us forward to putting products that are benefiting people and planet.
We’re seeing for printers, for example, imaging devices, that a voluntary agreement put forward by industry, it is failing to be ambitious enough and potentially because of lack of sufficient staffing in the European Commission, this is not challenged sufficiently, despite promises of moving forward and away from such voluntary agreement if they didn’t have the product goals in time. We need to push forward and the data does exist. There are alternative datasets, also from community initiatives.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: We’ll come back to that. I have to cut you short otherwise it is not fair for anyone.
Lack of data, amazing points, voluntary agreements could be a problem.
I’m – right now we have questions in the chat who is asking about how to make this data that you’re talking so much more transparent. Our panel has had some – there are some initiatives in the private sector being transparent on that, how telecommunication centres, how much is consumed, and going back to Max Schulze, you talked about the carbon input, the impact of the data centres, do you know about it now? Did you do something about this? Is your alliance able to do that.
>> MAX SCHULZE: It is a big problem. If you talk to anyone in this field, researcher, anyone, it is difficult to put the finger on the power consumption of data centres in Europe and around the world.
It is also due to the fact that there is a lot of security concerns, but this is a different topic, fundamentally you have to understand that based on the power consumption you can reverse engineer the size of a business of a data centre, therefore – they don’t want to give that information out under competitive restraints and we have worked very hard in the lost two years to assemble researchers, industry centres to share that data and we have made progress on that side.
A week from now we’ll launch our transparency register, our data hub making that data from data centres that have opted into sharing it available to everybody as free as a completely opensource research data that we can use to actually innovate and to build things on top.
Yes, we have worked on this very hard. I think it is a fundamental problem that’s inhibiting innovation at the moment.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: So sharing between willing enterprises is a good start.
Coming back on you, there is a lack of data, how do you make it happen to be able to do the right decision in how you invest in the data centre, how are you able to move forward?
>> MARJOLEIN BOT: We’re not there yet.
We try to – we’re building on awareness now. We’re not a data centre initiative, we’re not focused on data centres, we’re focused on the value chain, working with all of the different parts, especially end users. I think the KPI and the PUE stuff, I think that’s a measurement that’s not fit for purpose any more, it has it use in the last couple of years, but it should change, the PUE, we have the comments of the theory of four, and we tend to have 1.2, but it doesn’t say anything, right. It is a – it is a – it is a relative kind of mark. That’s something that we need to work for. I think that the work – the climate neutral pact, it is doing, what others are doing, it is very good examples or – of how to elevate the quality of the KPIs in this sector.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: All good points also brought forward.
Kim, from the Netherlands, do you have remarks on the initiatives that are focused there.
>> KIM van SPARRENTAK: I think in the Dutch context, indeed, we’re talking more about it. I think it is also because, you know, we’re talking about the digitization in general in the Dutch perspective and we have already had some initiatives where we’re trying to make sure that we connect, for example, data centres with industries that use a lot of energy.
We have had quite a boon of data centres in the area where we have greenhouses and then the heat from the data centres is being used for the greenhouses. There is a bit of awareness around sustainability and data centres.
When talking about the data sharing, we have some way to go. I think, indeed, that we are taking steps there.
>> ILIAS IAKOVIDIS: May I add to the data centre issues?
First, there is already a commitment of Europe to drive the small one, ones that we were talking about, this is the biggest headache, because the private – the big ones, they’re getting there, they have the – they have the metrics, that’s not a problem. It is the 50% of the small ones, the public ones, that we need to get there.
Are two things to notice: First, the Ministers of all Member States promise that they will work on this public database as well. Any new financing, any new financing for data centres will go through green public procurement criteria that have been established last year.
There is a green public procurement criteria for data centres. They are based on the code of conduct that was developed that’s being updated regularly, and we have also agreed, and I work with colleagues on this, that sustainable financing can go to making the data centres greener, including the public ones if they follow – again, certain criteria, the code of conduct. It has been just adopted in the delegated act of the E.U. taxonomy and if you really want to look at it, look at Annex 1 Section 811.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: I’m turning now for the next question as well – don’t worry, I will come back to everyone.
>> KATHRIN MORASCH: I’m from the German Youth IGF.
Some of you mentioned the whole field of finance, economy, and I was thinking about, you know, business cases within the different companies, in the whole sector. It seems to be really difficult to catalyze business cases with the ICT sustainability, yeah, to influence and catalyze them. I was wondering why you think that is?
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: The business case for increased green digital, how do we create a level playing field for everyone to really do the right thing and not just a few people as Kim mentioned at the beginning.
>> ILIAS IAKOVIDIS: This is a major question.
If we don’t create KPIs, standardized metrics of what it means, the impact of digital, only the big companies have the means and sophistication to argue that this is the digital footprint of the solution and enablement. 90% of our economy, the SMEs will not have that capacity. By not having such metrics, by not having such transparencies, we actually are killing our economy. The sustainable financiers are more and more – it is not just only to the 2 trillion mentioned, it is a huge shift of those that will be green back, the World Bank wants green, national funds have to be green, Europe is pushing for the targets of sustainable finance, it is the fastest growing finance, if we don’t provide clear metrics for everybody to bid for it, we basically are killing the middle – the smaller SMEs.
If you just look at the sustainability business, when it comes to energy efficiencies of all of the AI, little softwares to make the servers more efficient, the 5G stations to put them to sleep overnight, that’s okay, the big companies want that, because that’s their operating expenses. They want to make sure that they spend less energy, so there is a computation. That’s fine.
What about the materials that was being talked about? There is no incentives. The incentive is to sell more materials, more models, every year a new model, just to flood the markets with materials and new primary materials. We need it make the sustainable, repairable products cheaper, more competitive than alternatives, that’s where we have a problem, not only in the energy part, that’s already kind of taken care of by the market. It is really the – that’s the greening ever ICTs, there is a greening of ICT, energy part I don’t worry about that, problem with the material part, we could talk about that we do something as a Commission on that, we will talk later. There is also ICT for sustainability, and because there is a lot of money for greening things, ICT for sustainability, it will not be equally – it will not give equal chance to everybody who has innovation because there is no metrics, what does it mean to cut so many tons f I want to invest as a mayor, I want to give everybody a chance to actually doing it different than a competitor and I buy that solution.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Energy is good to take into account and the material part is important.
I’m turning to Marjolein Bot on this, you have done things on the energy part. What’s the part that you do on – everything linked to the material, I know there is a circular economy kind of initiative and it is really hard to reuse those materials, how do you take that into account?
>> MARJOLEIN BOT: We have three topics within the lead initiative: One around technology, energy efficiency, and I don’t agree with the previous speaker on the markets, I think there is a lot to be needed, a lot of innovation, a lot of collaboration that still needs to take place there.
The second one, distributed, looking at different types of markets to break the centralization of data centres.
The third one, indeed, circular, that’s around the material one. We’re looking at again how can you work with the procurers, the procurers in the companies that make the decisions? Making sure that they’re aware that they’re not only looking at – I would say security and performance, but also looking at energy efficient across the value chain, not just your usage but across and materials. It is a trade-off question.
It is not a lot of companies that are having that in the mind yet, having the conscience, they’re able to do that. That’s one big, big area to raise the bar there.
The second one, looking at the supply side, so first one, demand side, second one, the supply side. We work with big companies to actually increase their amount, their number, their different types of circular servers, data servers.
The third one, around monitoring, around material passports, et cetera, et cetera. We’re at the beginning of this journey. We need to build collaboration and we also – if it is done somewhere else, let’s not done it again.
If guys here, girls here, they have the solution, the innovation, let’s connect that and make it bigger. I think – yes. On those – on all of those three topics, including the material side, which is forgotten, we need to start accelerating.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Quickly, because I’m coming back on what was said earlier, there was an idea by Ugo, devices, infrastructure, should be really durable in time, do you have an idea of the durability of the infrastructures in your mindset.
>> MARJOLEIN BOT: We do. Yes.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Good to hear.
I’m turning now to Ana, on your end, we know that there is mining industry in the country, and sometimes you have people there really trying to do investment in a certain direction, they were saying they want investors to invest risk capital in a high-cost environment for new projects. How you deal with this, do you think that you want to regulate, is it going to end on its own?
>> ANA PETROVSKA: Thank you for the question.
I just wanted to illustrate the main challenges to catalyze the digital agenda in the public and private sector with the examples of circular economy design of our information system that’s yet to be established and financed.
This circular economy concept that is currently regulated by the new law on management, it should involve many stakeholders, like the base generator, including industry, commercial sector, then collection, public utilities, concessioners, various transfer stations, extended producers and possibility schemes, including recycling recovery, disposal operators, export centres, so on.
Trying to imagine how much data we need to collect and implement in the established information system, one should consider some ICT department at the Ministry of Environment and the local municipalities, so they would coordinate and reach out to data sources. Once we have established the entire system, someone should maintain the system, upgrade, regularly monitor what’s going on in order to really implement some circulatory benefits.
Currently it is very difficult in North Macedonia. It is on a design level, once this information system will be available, it might happen that financing should be made available and the major problems is that the public authorities do not regard the environment and climate a huge priority. Also, the Civil Society organizations are not that strong to push the institutions forward.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Thank you. It is in line with the questions and the remarks given in the chat, Chris Adams mentions the standards are not really taking into account, not mapping how the money is spent especially when you want to finance something, they say I have that much finance for that category, let’s look at the sustainability, how do we make sure that will help the sustainable measures? I’ll go to Kim, do you have remarks on this? How this could be done better in the future?
>> KIM van SPARRENTAK: Yes. I also saw some questions in the chat about standards and reporting.
I think what is the main issue now, it is that indeed there are supporting – there are sort of standards that have been developed. They’re not obligatory. When we talk about comparing data, aggregating data, when everybody using their own standards, that’s a problem. That’s an issue that we have to look at with the long-term financial reporting, we need that another point that relates to the question that we’re discussing now.
And perhaps different from what we’re talking about, when talking about who in the end should make the decision on making digitization more sustainable, then we talk about, okay, is it the consumer that has to make sure that this happens? Is it actually that we need to change the system? We talk about awareness, people feel some – I don’t know – discontent when taking a flight. They know it is bad for the environment. After being – after having Netflix for hours and hours and hours, we’re not aware, it is not comparable in terms of how much energy it uses, we’re not that aware that that also uses energy. It is not up to the consumer to change the system, it is up to the companies to change it. As long as there is no awareness using digital products consumes energy, it will be hard to take – to ask for accountability from the big corporations.
When talking about energy versus materials, I think one of the most important things that we can do, it is having this product passport in the E.U. to have a clear idea on where we – what we have, but also – and also to raise awareness again for consumers and to have the right to repair, to make sure that, you know, we incentivize corporations to change the way that they’re producing their products.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Great points. Not having everything on the back of consumers, really having companies and states doing their work.
Max, turning to you, you had some remarks directed now the chat. What are your remarks on this?
>> MAX SCHULZE: It is a very complex, interesting field. You have to know I’m a software engineer, my brain works technical on this question.
I think on the business case point, I do think that there is a business case for sustainable technologies already, especially in the digital realm that they are not being implemented I would say because there is old business models that really are not conducive to this and transparency would probably help. Just to make money flows public, business flows public that would help a lot.
I think from a more – on the standards, metrics, KPIs, you know, figuring out how to measure the sustainability in the digital world, there is a fundamental thing that we often don’t talk about, it is nice to know how many materials goes in servers but fundamentally what we’re looking right now, it is why all of the other existing standards don’t work, it is that we don’t know what the unit of work is in the digital world.
An example, if I take 5 liters of gasoline, I put it in a car, I can drive let’s say 100-kilometer was that. That’s simple.
If I take data centre, I can’t even quantify – I can’t – I can quantify one megawatts coming in, I don’t know what comes out of it. I cannot say how much of that do I need to run this software? Unless that connection is made, it will be impossible to then say please do not use more than X amount of energy, X amount of emissions to produce this unit. We don’t even know what the unit is.
It is really a fundamental problem with digital technologies, today, like if you ask me how much emissions is attached to this Instagram picture, Netflix video, we really don’t know because we don’t know how many units of work go into making that video, that stream for you, and that’s something that a lot of people are trying to figure out right now and digital product passports, all of the components are necessary to figure that out eventually. Ultimately we need to decide what’s the thing that comes out of the digital infrastructure and powers digital applications? That’s the one metric we have never defined. Efficiency then is measurable, you know, all of these things we talk about, they’re comparable, you can say this is more efficient than that, and at the moment it doesn’t exist. We hope by getting data out, creating transparent is from the infrastructure side we can see patterns and come up with this measure.
I think that’s the plan so far at least for us. I do think we need this unit of work.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: All right. That seems to be the main problem, we really need to create transparency and access the data to be able to compare and to have the metric, et cetera.
I’m turning to you, Ugo Vallauri, everybody says we need the data, the data, should we just force companies in sharing that data in the end? Should we just wait on them to do voluntary agreements?
>> UGO VALLAURI: Voluntary agreements clearly don’t work.
I think there is something we need to be aware of, it is a great concept, the idea of a product passport, it doesn’t change the game in terms of requiring what needs to go in there. It doesn’t give mandatory requirements unless they have been agreed elsewhere. It is just the way to deploy the information.
For instance, if you – if a manufacturer has not been required to make available a repair manual, the passport won’t have a link to that, it is not a mandatory requirement.
There needs to be stronger incentives away from the business as usual of even a certain concept of the circular economy as something that just reduces the amount that we send to Landfill and can still focus unfortunately too much on recycling and as Ilias mentioned, turning out more and more models every year of new products. We have to recognize that a Digital Transformation of Europe includes reducing the access to digital services and products, what’s that mean? We see a lot of products that goes to waste and recycling that could and should be reused and refurbished, creating more jobs in refurbishment and in repair and reducing the inequalities in access.
I think we need to slow down the consumption of new resources and products and ensure the same time that we minimize the unnecessary waste and recycling of others. There needs to be incentives, and it cannot be down to the consumer. Consumers are asking for products to be longer lasting and repairable, but they can’t even see data about which product is more or less repairable. All of this can change and must change.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: I have to wrap this up. This is all really great inputs. Thank you. This is a full discussion for the breakout rooms.
What we have, we need to have access to the data, it is missing at the moment to make the right decisions, we need to have the level playing field so that the business case is clear. That needs to also be done through different regulatory incentives that we would discuss in the breakout rooms. Green public procurement funding, having taxonomy, being sure that the science is used in the right direction. We need to have standards, eco design, bringing it at the hardware, software level, infrastructure level, we need to be mindful of all of the waste issues because right now we’re missing on really precious material and maybe think about changing business models rather than buying and selling new products all the time and so, yeah, I’ll wrap it up in here! Thank you for the great inputs! I leave it back to Michael.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you so much, Alex, thank you so much, everyone, for the really riveting, I would say very useful discussion. Really, again, Alex, thank you for the excellent moderation.
There are so many more things for us to discuss and the closing of this panel, it is not the end of the session. It is really only the beginning.
We’re going to in just a bit, take a short 5-minute break, just to give everybody time to stand up, to let their brain rest for a moment. Then you are invited to join one of our five breakout group discussions that will further explore some of the pressing topics addressed today.
The first one, the first breakout session will be focused on energy, we have a second one on the circular economy, the third focused on regulation and policy.
And the fourth on green business and ICT for sustainable business models, looking into the ICT and the economy, and the fifth, lifestyle and consumerism. We invite you and panelists to join whichever breakout room you’re most interested in, and remind you that you can see the breakout group titles and guiding questions on the wiki but unfortunately, I don’t think we can access that at the moment and unfortunately, I accidentally refreshed mine so now I can’t access our wiki at the moment! These things happen! It is okay!.
Before we close this part of the session, we would like to hand it over to our Rapporteur, Vesna Manojlovic, who will offer some key messages for us going forward.
The floor is yours.
>> VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Hey, everyone. I’m really happy to have taken part in this session. It was super interesting. I wrote many, many notes! It is really difficult to make summary.
I just jotted down a few points: People called for the companies to do optimizing for environmental benefits and not only for making profits. There is a lot of calls for the rights to repair, but that also requires products to be made that enables to be repaired, and the people that are educated enough to repair the products but also motivated and inspired that wish to invest their time and energy and money for the environmental benefits and not only for the con saving of money.
There was a call for slowing down of production, materials and energy and a lot of links have been shared on existing regulations, existing tips, and there was also a very interesting point made of not reinventing the wheel, using existing sources and building up on them. This session, it is actually very good for sharing between different areas and I’m super proud of all of the speakers from awful the different sides looking at the same problem. Thank you to the organizer for putting that together.
The favorite thing I have heard, making sure that the digitization, it is not undoing the greening that we all are looking for. Thank you.
I hope that you find this useful and inspirational.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you for that.
What we’ll do, as well, we’ll work with those messages that you just delivered, as well as the ones – the summary that Alex made to kind of create an overall summary segment of this session. After the breakout room, after the breakout discussions, when we come back into Plenary at the last part, we will then take the messages from the breakout rooms and also combine them.
This is – we’re doing something new this year, we’re experimenting with it. We will come together with a good output.
So that concludes the first part of this three-part session. We want to come back – we would like to once again thank our panelist and Rapporteur and we will see you back here in – why don’t we take 6 minutes and come back at 11:40CEST. How does that sound? Or until the wiki is back up! Yeah! Thank you! Thank you, everyone! We’ll be back in 6 minutes!
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Let’s call them back in.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Before we get in the final Plenary to share messages. Let’s break for 5 minutes and take – just take a 5-minute break to come back, so you can kind of stretch your legs a bit, grab waters, coffee, anything you need. Why don’t we – actually why don’t we meet back here – it is currently 12:32. Let’s take a little bit more than 5 minutes. Let’s come back at 12:40. You have 8 minutes to go stretch your legs. I’ll see you in a bit.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Welcome back. I think we can go ahead and go.
It is 12:40, in the interest of time, we will get started with the last part of this session. Just to remind everybody, this is – that this was a three-part session, the first part was the panel, the opening discussion meant to help frame the session. The second part was the breakout sessions, going more in depth into some of the bigger issues surrounding ICT sustainability and its relationship between the environment and digitisation and then lastly, this segment, it will focus on reporting back from those breakout groups and just as a reminder, this is for what will be rolled out in the incomes six months, what we plan to work on over the next six months. As much of the discussion was not the end, just the beginning, it is the same for this session as a whole, this is not the end after today’s session, but it is also the beginning of something that we would like to do which includes bringing the wider EuroDIG community together to help address some of these questions, whether it be policy recommendations, best practice generation, kind of trying to find good incentives, things like that. A lot of this we’ll do in the next few months and of course I will invite you to be part of that now but I’ll invite you to be part of that later.
So now that I see more people have come back online, thank you for being here, I think we can go ahead and move to the breakout Rapporteurs and the cofacilitators. What we would like to do with this section, it is every group has 2 minutes to give the key messages, action points, I ask you to keep it as close to 2 minutes as possible. What I would like everyone to do, if you turn on – basically if you have the gallery view, after the end of each of the five breakout groups goes, we would like for you to just give your reactions.
There is – there is obviously the thumb up, but also if you don’t – we’ll ask you for your reaction at the end of the 2 minutes, if you don’t necessarily like what’s been said, you can also give a thumbs down. This is a way we’re trying to make this more participatory, given the format and everything. Yes. This is something that we’re kind of workshopping. Forgive us if it is not perfectly, you know, if not everything is perfect.
With that, would we like to go in order starting with energy? Would anyone who wants to go first like to go ahead? I’m up for either. Alisa Heaver, if you are ready, let’s start with energy and go in order.
You’re both on mute. I don’t know if you’re trying to speak.
I meant Kris Shrishak.
>> ALISA HEAVER: I couldn’t unmute myself. Now I have been unmuted. I believe Kris had the same problem.
We discussed that Kris would do be – would do the Plenary session.
>> KRIS SHRISHAK: So the messages we have, they’re not final, we’ll formulate them later.
We have three trains of thoughts.
The first, is that in terms of energy, infrastructure is not the whole story. Not only data centre facility and energy conception but energy conception within the facilities by the companies that use the data centre facilities with metrics such as utilization grid. All of this should be included.
The second, it is regulation, and this focuses more onsetting the boundary conditions and also for all metrics, including energy and regulating the specifics. This way, the specifics, they can be dealt with by software and hardware developers that have these requirements, and the question remains on what’s included as part of the whole carbon neutral data.
The third, it is data centres are being set up in centralized locations that have resulted in large energy consumption in specific regions and it is a complexity. Going ahead, we should look at how data centres of the future can be spread out so that electricity streams can be limited.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: What do you think so far? Do you agree with the lines of thought? Do you disagree with the lines of thought or disagree.
You can show up or put it on the screen? Clap hands work as well.
I see a lot of agreement so far. We’ll have discussion as well.
We’ll make sure we have all of the groups first. Thank you as well, Kris, to sticking to the two-minute mark.
>> ALISA HEAVER: A suggestion, can you put it in the chat? It is easy for everyone to read it back.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you.
One other thing I forgot to mention, it is that we’ll have a discussion platform, rather EuroDIG has a discussion platform, if there is anything said in the next 40 minutes or so that you’re like oh, I don’t like the way this is worded. I would like to give extra nuance to this, there will be a chance to do that outside of the discussion session we’ll have shortly. We’re an inclusive bunch here. We want to make sure everybody is heard. With that said, I think we can move to the second breakout group.
>> LEANDRO NAVARRO: We had a nice discussion.
We need legal barriers and economic incentives for companies to avoid eWaste and the second is commonly recognized rules that are established, we have standardization on several issue, like for instance what shows with connectors that work, sensitization of the public to raise awareness on issues related to eWaste and consumerism leading to ever-increasing consumption levels and finally the need to develop a common data core to inform, raise awareness, serve as a basis for legislation, data sharing across the entire value chain is needed.
These are the four main outcomes. I don’t know, Beat, if you want to comment?
>> BEAT ESTERMANN: A thing to add, our circulatory discussion kind of started off with the consideration of the international trade of eWaste like what happens with the stuff we don’t need any more, where does it go, and then take it from the other perspective from countries that are more on the importing side, what can of – what issues it creates in terms of environmental issues and the safety hazards for people working in the field where data is lacking to actually trace all of the issues in receiving countries.
We then went on to ask the question, what can we do as a collective, at international level, kind of force peer help among countries and also involve the exporting countries to also enforce certain standards and that will help with the data collection and data sharing.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: He can lent. Thank you so much. A round of feedback from everyone. Thumb up, them down, what do you think? Good pathways to move forward.
There seems to be consensus on this. Thank you so much.
Now going to the third breakout room on policy and regulation. I would like to ask the wonderful Chris Adams to come in and give us his feedback.
>> CHRIS ADAMS: We had four key takeaways. I will try to paste that in the chat room if possible. I just realized someone is dropping bottles as I deliver this.
We covered four things.
The footprint of ICT, it is not zero but it is really important to actually develop the capacity in talking about enablement and the delivery of savings in the wider sense largely because we don’t even have this capacity at present in many cases if you don’t have this capacity, it is really hard to engage with any kind of sector, and also when we take into account the idea that ICT is increasingly part of pretty much mediating any other sector we do use, it feels a bit silly to only focus on this one, in many cases, there are larger levers for change when you look at this.
The other thing, it was a problem around incentives.
So we have seen procurement deliver non-financial kind of goods like say more accessible digital service, inclusive design, things like this. Right now, when we talk about the delivery, the ability to use public spending as a mechanism to accelerate a transition away interest digital services, we don’t have the spending specific to a KPI, partly, we don’t know what to ask for, and related to this, if you don’t have this capacity inside of organization, you don’t have recourse without this, you need sophistication and capacity there to tie the payment of things to the actual delivery of performance and delivery of results.
We also spoke about the idea that there is a tension right now with the underlying datasets used to make the claims and the organizations who have previously acted as stewards for the data because at present where you have a number of organizations who are functioning legally as companies and employing people, everything like that, in many cases there is a question about, okay, what is the correct structure we would need in order to make this data available to deliver these savings in many cases maybe a limited company may not be the best option if there are things like data trusts, other mechanisms, the government structures to provide this.
Then finally, which is kind of related to this, we spoke about the idea that right now as they currently stand, the targets and policy goals, they’re admirable, and the current approaches tend to favor large organizations that are able to have dedicated and environmental sustainability teams. This means over the next five to ten years we’re likely to have more consolidation around a small number of providers that are then able to lobby and influence basically governance in other ways. There is probably a need to counteract this to explicitly include smaller actors in this if we want a healthy, diverse ecosystem of providers.
Those are the key things I would actually say. Checking if there is anything from my cohost Ilias Iakovidis, we have to make it easier to tie the claims, the payment of this to the delivery of the claims, otherwise we will likely end up playing in the hands of a number of very, very small, well-resourced organizations.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you to Chris and Ilias Iakovidis, thank you for the support.
Do you agree with this line of thinking, this direction, do you disagree.
Feel free to play around with it, clapping, celebrating, hearts, all of these things, we appreciate it.
This is great.
So Chris, that looks like it is good on that end. If they’re not already in the chat, and if you can post those in the chat as well.
Moving now to Lea Elsemuller and Marcel Krummenauer, focusing on green business and sustainable business models.
Please, go ahead. Come in.
>> LEA ELSEMULLER: We have some formulated points, I’ll read it to you. Thank you, Marcel Krummenauer, for writing them down quickly.
We focused on two points: Mainly the first point, sustainability reporting, the second one, green business cases for ICTs sustainability, so starting with sustainability reporting: In order to transform the economy towards a sustainability measuring the impact of companies’ on the environment among other things is imperative. There needs to be a regulatory framework varying by company size set by the European Union or other international bodies to measure the sustainability in order to avoid clean washing and allowing transparency. The measured, published results need to be externally audited. We need transparently data and algorithms.
The second point, education, academic and practical exchanges of young people, they are essential for the development of new sustainable business models. In this context, not so much the differing generational interests in sustainability that needs to be addressed, but rather the power of young, interested people to convince older generations to invest in sustainable business models. In addition, it is important for the government to offer consulting options to small and enterprising options.
Thank you. It was a nice group. We posted the points in the chat. Thank you.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you.
How does everybody feel? Support.
Positive feedback. Great. Excellent.
I think – I think we can go to our fifth, our last but certainly not least breakout group discussion on consumerism and lifestyles. Weronika Koralewska and Ugo Vallauri. Thank you.
>> WERONIKA KORALEWSKA: Hello. It was very interesting to hear the messages before.
It just – it is showing how everything is interconnected although we had different topics, many points, the last one, repeating themselves, since I’m the last.
We raised the issue on regulation. I have already posted the key messages in the chat. We believe that we need goods, not just illusions or fake regulation on reusing ICT products. We need incentives that will make repairman and using a norm and something affordable, and we need education and transparency, which was also mentioned by many groups. We need education and transparency, we want consumers to have the possibility to make an informed choice when it comes to how to shape the relationship with electronics.
At the end, we want to emphasize that many times sustainability can go in hand with equality of access and we wanted to point out we can go beyond ownership but also to access and we had an interesting discussion on public computers and Internet and devices available at libraries and models of sharing, so it was a fruitful discussion.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you.
Lastly, how does everyone feel? Everybody agree with the main messages.
There seems to be consensus. On the part you have all been waiting for. Now is the time to expand what you say what, you feel, beyond a thumbs up, thumbs down. We have 15 minutes for discussion. We can go on – we can go beyond that if needed. Based on the fantastic areas that you have heard so far, is there feedback? What is missing, for instance? Is there anything that was really pressing, urgent that you think wasn’t said that needs to be said on any of these five breakout groups or are all of you just very happy and you’re ready to go have lunch.
Chris Adams, go ahead.
>> CHRIS ADAMS: I thought I would see something of, this idea that data centres, they’re incredibly dense with a huge amount of money spent in a small area. We have the goals society wise beyond ICT, main things we need to better address, things like finding ways to make use of heat, finding a way to have a resilient, reliable grid, this is one thing that if we don’t really talk about the ways that you could use data centres to kind of act as anchor points or to integrate them into this grid and provide other grid services, I feel you’re missing something here and that’s a really, really useful thing to take into account given that we’re moving to a world of much more intermittent variable renewable power, not based on fossil fuels. There is something there that would be useful to explore and discuss and talk about the ownership structure of that. Without that, there is a tendency to say let’s have hyper data centres miles away interest cities not making use of the useful products and I think that’s not in the long run the ideal scenario.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA:
Excellent. That’s a very good point, Chris. If you without putting more onus on you, you have always been great, if you can put that in to the chat so we can make sure it is recorded.
Max, I saw your hand, then Emma.
>> Great points. I just wanted to quickly respond.
I think that Chris, for your sake, my line also touched on that, in Amsterdam, the concentration problem is big, I think others touched on it in the chat, the concentration problem is big. If you set the right environment the boundary systems, this should happen naturally, this is to have the end-to-end systems at the front, electrons on the front, heat coming out, that’s the only way forward.
I’ll let Emma chip in on this.
>> Emma Fryer: You’re absolutely right, Chris.
Data centres are actually very suited to being energy consumers in a much more distributed grid adopting to higher levels of renewables. At the moment, yes, we can be instrumental in the power agreements creating additional scales for the generation, but really with the characteristic, the high flat load, they ought to be anchored customers for green hydrogen and we ought to be able to be again anchor customers in a market where it exists for battery storage, the answer is yes. The clustering though, at the moment, it is more problematic than anything else because it is creating stresses on localized grids even in London where, you know, we have an ample amount of electricity supply over the U.K., particular locations in London and it creates problems in data and other users. I would like to slightly take advantage of that.
There is huge promise. You’re absolutely right.
I hope I didn’t disagree, Chris.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: You may not have hit send yet –
>> I’m halfway through. I was flustered if I was online or not.
>> Jeroen: (Poor audio quality).
We’re looking forward to using as little as possible, sometimes it does not happen today, we can touch on what’s happening today here. If we look at the landscape, if we look beyond, (poor audio quality).
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you.
Would anyone like to add to those or alternatively, would anyone like to take the discussion in a different direction based on other breakout groups or on anything else that’s not been said yet that you think is important? This can extend also to the beginning of the session as well.
This is basically – I’m sorry we didn’t have time for more discussion in Plenary. There will be plenty of chance to do more of this during the intercessional work and we hope that the next kind of six months will be a lot of this and working together to answer a lot of these questions that’s been raised and a lot of directions going forward.
Does anyone else have anything they would want to add?
>> I would like to answer the one point a little bit if that’s interesting.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Go ahead, Max, then Chris back to you after that.
>> I think so – so it is the same discussion with quantum computing and other massive computing paradigm shifts. I think there is a point that the landscape of computation will likely change, but I do think that a lot of the – let’s say the architectures, the structures, they’ll remain for a really, really, really long time.
Look at it, we still run our insurances on mainframes and by now you would argue mainframes, who is using those? In IT there is the golden rule, right, never move, just build over again, you leave the legacy where it is.
I think despite the new technologies emerging, they’ll be used, and we still need to solve the problem of the infrastructure that we have and it is not just heat recovery, heat recovery is nice but it is also the input energy that needs to be truly physically green, for example, and I think that what we have to do in 2030, 2050, replacing quantum computing will not happen but I hope they’ll be further by then, I wouldn’t bet the future of my children on that is my problem, the time.
Chris, over to you.
>> CHRIS ADAMS: The idea, it was mechanisms to build capacity for us to be thinking in terms of public sector as a mechanism to kick start some of the early activities. Right now the way that we talk about or even think about this stuff, it is that I think in many cases, because of some private sector groups, in the private sector, if they’re not set up, not doing this work, yet at certain levels. I think that it is likely that you will need to rely on the private sector to kick start this like you have seen in many other sectors when you’re looking for solutions that are just not tied to financial returns.
I think that we don’t really have much in terms of tying – I guess the expenditure to the delivery of this or any recourse or capacity for that. That’s a thing that would really be useful to take away.
At present, I feel that the people who are procurement managers, they may be trained in procuring a certain way.
They don’t necessarily have the background or the training to talk or to go – to basically set particular targets that they will tie contracts to and things like that. Without these incentive, we won’t see anywhere near the speed of action that we need given that we have 10 years to essentially get an entire I T Sector down to carbon neutral in Europe. That’s a thing I would flag out, see if there is anything from other people.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Jeroen.
>> Thank you. I agree totally, Max, not either one or the other. I agree that it is about new developments, additional and current, in the same, it applies for distributors. It will not be less skills, but new computing power, it may be more distributors than before in the future.
Same with new technologies, they will facilitate new growth rather than replacing what was there before. I agree, it was not meant as a disapproval of the management, it is more like the innovation side of things, looking ahead what, it means for the inclusion.
Back to Chris, I think when it is about procurement, I would like to mention interesting initiatives that the ICT, they have had the impact, it was launched two weeks ago I think by the Ministers of Netherlands and Belgium and sponsored by U.N. as well, where I think about seven countries taking initiative to align public procurement criteria for ICT and for the experience with the Netherlands, it will be hardware criteria, and also it incorporates data centre criteria. Stuff like that.
It may come closer to the things you’re looking for when it comes down to public procurement. It is a good development from the industry perspective, it is not scaled country by country, initiative by initiative, but it is countries taking the lead and working together, not European, but maybe international level to align those criteria.
In that way, it is going to be more impactful and that’s also where the debate will be, what’s realistic and what terms to make it also available for the public procurers, procurement officers. I think when I lived in the Netherlands, it is not just a set of criteria, but a discussion and consultation, but also it is about creating awareness and education to the procurement managers. That’s when it comes to practice not only about a set of standards, but also the guidance on how to – how the procurement process works in practice and how to challenge the market to deliver on those. This is an initiative that will be – I believe it will be followed by six, seven other countries.
From the Netherlands, we’re looking forward to the developments.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: I was sharing a resource when it relates to procurement. There is some excellent resources on procurement and kind of walking you through the steps needed to take to protect Human Rights and the environment in procurement. I wanted to share that.
I’m conscience of the time. We can extend. Would everybody be okay with me wrapping up from here, and then if anyone would like to add more, I suggest the first thing to say, I’m not sure if I can even access it, I’m trying to see if the wiki is working. It doesn’t seem to be working.
I’ll at least put the EuroDIG wiki – our EuroDIG wiki link is in the chat f there, there are multiple connections to the Greening Internet Governance intercessional work.
I really invite you, if you would like to help with, this take this forward, please join that group. I’m not sure – we’re not sure how it will work yet, whose leading it, but I’m assuming that I’ll probably have some – so ting do with it as I tend to get roped into these things, you will probably hear from me along with many other people, probably those I will volunteer!.
We will take some of this forward and see how we can work on this in a stakeholder, collaborative way and by this, meaning answering some of these questions, putting something out there whether it is a policy document, a set of recommendations, best practices, et cetera.
I would like to also share, I will share my – I’m sharing my email in the chat in case you would like to – I will share – yeah, probably should share my personal one, I’m here any personal capacity. I shared that in the chat if you would like information, see how to get involved, stay involved, you can do that, you can sign up for the organizing team still, there are many ways to hear from us and with all of that said, one minute over the last bit that we were supposed to be here!.
I would just really like to thank all of you for being here, for your incredible outputs you have made to the throw hours of this topic. Really, a thing we always said, just a bit of personal reflection, it is that I brought this topic to EuroDIG in 2017 and a lot of people were just like joy do you want to talk about that? What’s that got to do with Internet governance? Over – throughout the IGF, the Internet rights and coalition, I’m a Steering Committee member, we have been pushing this within the Internet Governance Forum and what started as a flash session in 2019 became a Plenary at EuroDIG in 2020 and now we have had this huge session. Even at the IGF, it is what started as a small topic, it is a major track now within the discussion. So momentum for this is growing, it is huge. We could not be doing this if it were not for you all.
Thank you to the opening panel segments, the breakout and discussion facilitators and the subject matter experts, thank you for all of the work that you have put in. Obviously, once again, the audience, wouldn’t be here without you. I would like to thank the person that I call super woman, Alexandra Lutz, who is my cofocal point, she is – I don’t know how she does what she does! She’s incredible! Throughout this whole session, the whole – when I signed up for this, I was like we didn’t really know what to expect but it was more planning than I anticipated and she said no, this is the way it is! She was – we wouldn’t have been here without Menda and her constant wisdom and support and just everything that she does.
Obviously I want to thank Alex as well, you were a brilliant moderator in the first part as you were last year as well. Thank you for all of your support and also to David and the entire support for this topic.
Obviously, thank you to the organizing team, you all were so supportive and really stepping up-and-coming into all of these different things. Most of the time the organizing team gets together and basically plan one panel session, one workshop, an hour, it is the end of it, they really – you know, we have this big org team committed to making sure that we keep this on the agenda. I obviously need to thank the Secretariat, thank you to all of the people that support the Secretariat for all of the faith that they have in this topic and also to put out an intercessional programme.
I want to thank our fantastic hosts, you are wonderful! We appreciate it.
Of course, the studio teams, and the remote moderators.
Thank you again to all of the Rapporteurs, thank you for the help that you have put in, all of the support and last but always certainly not least, I would like to thank our captioner Kelly for capturing all of this over the past three hours. You know, the transcript that you provide is helpful and we come back to it over and over again.
I would like to I think that we have captured everybody.
The subject matter experts that help not in just the session itself but the programme as a whole, your support means a lot as well.
With that, unless you have something to add, I would – it is good if we can close here, once again, this is not the end, this is the beginning. I invite all of you to participate more going forward and thank you all again so much! We really appreciate it!.
Have a wonderful day, and a good summer!
>> NADIA TJAHJA: Many thanks! Thank you to all the key participants for your active engagement during this session. It was wonderful to be able to see your participation.
We hope that you will stay with us today and join one of the many interesting sessions that this EuroDIG community has planned.
We’ll now have lunch until 2:15 where there is two keynotes followed by session 2, we hope you’ll join us there at 2:45.
If you are interested to go back to our Gather.Town, exit the Zoom room and return to the Gather.Town. Feel free to roam around the conference centre and you will be able to access also the BigStage where during lunch there will be presentations.
We look forward to seeing you on the EuroDIG platform and of course you’re welcome in any of the studios.
Have a lovely lunch, and see you later!
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you, all! Take care!