How to reduce the environmental footprint of the technology sector to respond to the climate emergency?

Digital technologies have advanced faster than any other innovation in our history, reaching nearly half of the world’s population in just a couple of decades. They have enormous potential to achieve a more prosperous, sustainable and fair world; however, its environmental cost can be high.

Digital transformation brings many opportunities to society, but also implies, among others, an increase in energy consumption through the use of devices, distribution networks and data centers; the extraction of resources and the generation of waste associated with the manufacture and disposal of electronic devices; and/or emissions and other environmental impacts generated during the life cycle of technological solutions.

Recognizing the contribution and co-responsibility of the technology sector to the climate emergency, it is necessary to measure and reduce the environmental footprint of companies in the technology sector, both public and private (especially SMEs and startups), achieving that their products, services and/or infrastructure is carbon-neutral and that its environmental impact is minimal.

The challenge

The technology industry is estimated to be responsible for 3.5 – 4% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ranking above sectors such as air transport. Furthermore, it is predicted that Artificial Intelligence could consume a tenth of the world’s electricity in 2025. In Europe, the ICT sector is currently responsible for 10% of total electricity consumption in the European Union (EU) and 4% of their CO2 emissions.

On the other hand, digital technologies are one of the main levers available to governments, companies, universities and research centers and citizens to achieve: (1) on a global scale, the targets set in the Paris Climate Change Agreement and in the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 (SDGs 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 15); (2) at regional level, the goals set in the European Union (EU) Action Plan for the circular economy and in the EU Digital Strategy that works hand in hand with the European Green Deal to propose green transformation measures for the ICT sector; and (3) at the local level, the Climate Plan 2018-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for the city of Barcelona.

The ICT sector in the Catalonia region represents an important area of ​​opportunity as it is made up of 16,339 companies (year 2019). Barcelona is the fourth most innovative European city (Innovation Cities Index 2019) and the fourth city most prepared for the technological future (Index of Cities Readiness, 2017). The city is home to one of the three most powerful supercomputers in Europe and is the fifth European technology hub by volume of investment.
This challenge seeks technological solutions to measure and reduce the environmental footprint of companies in the technology sector, both public and private (especially SMEs and startups), considering the phases of the life cycle of the products and services they offer (design, extraction of resources and use of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, use and final disposal), or the existing and / or future ICT infrastructure .

Solutions must be technological (software and / or hardware) , although they may be combined with consulting, strategic advisory and knowledge management activities. Solutions must be tested (from Technology Readiness Level 6 or higher) and their implementation must be technically feasible in less than 12 months . It will be positively valued that the solutions are scalable and that they are future-proof, that is, that they foresee immediate futures in terms of technological changes or trends and their respective regulatory frameworks.

Two prizes will be given that each winner will use to implement a pilot project in the city of Barcelona.

The solutions may focus, among others, on aspects such as:
Measure, report and reduce the environmental footprint (including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) of technological and / or ICT infrastructure products and services: 1) end devices, 2) information and data access and distribution networks, 3) data centers and business networks.
Reduce the generation of e-waste , promote the circularity of technological products, identify traceability, extend their useful life, for example, with a life cycle approach, and / or facilitate its reuse, repair, renovation, remanufacturing and recycling.
Improve energy efficiency , promote the use of renewable energy and incorporate sustainability criteria in the use and management of storage centers in data and / or in fixed and mobile data networks.
Optimize data consumption and transmission (for example, in the field of video streaming solutions, video games, media and entertainment, etc.) and the performance of software and hardware applications (for example, the use of green coding, also called clean coding, and refactoring)

Key dates

10 semi-finalist projects

Why to participate?

Digital Future Society Lab seeks technological solutions to measure and reduce the environmental footprint of companies in the technology sector, to implement a pilot project in the city of Barcelona.

How to participate?

Learn about the challenge and discover how you can help solve it.

FAQS

Proposals from local, national and international entities are accepted, without restrictions of geographic sense or size of entity.
All submitted proposals should be able to provide concrete and measurable results and be prepared for pilot implementation. The technological elements of the solution must also be prepared for the pilot implementation (TRL> 6). In addition, you should provide as much detail as possible on the form.
Yes, proposals can be made in English, Catalan or Spanish.
The winning proposal will receive financial support that will be valued in each case separately. However, the winning proposal must contribute at least 20% of the total project budget. The financial support will only be available for those activities and aspects directly related to the implementation of the pilot and no expense may be included in personnel, travel or subsistence.
This international call for proposals has three rounds of evaluation. During the third round of evaluation, a maximum of five proposals will be evaluated by a group of experts from MWCapital, the Barcelona City Council and other collaborating entities. You can find more details in the terms and conditions of the call.
You can write to the DFS Lab team at challenge@mobileworldcapital.com. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

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