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Defra unveils green government tech vision

Printing reams of paper and travelling to meetings are among the areas targeted in the new, green ICT makeover

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a 2020 vision of how technology should be used to minimise the government’s carbon footprint.

The Greening government: Sustainable technology strategy 2020 policy paper describes how modern digital tools can enable central government staff work effectively together and with customers.

The strategy aims to deliver savings on office space, energy, paper, and travel through the use of a pool of best practices.

In the policy paper Defra warned that the proliferation of digital technology and data services, coupled with the globalisation of service supply, means people are often unaware of the sustainability impact of the online services they may be using.

It said the greening government strategy would involve collaboration within government and externally with key ICT suppliers, the BCS Green ICT and Data Centre Specialist Groups, TechUK as well as the Carbon Trust.

According to Defra, The original green government strategy which was published in 2011, is now being practised across 14 contributing government departments. The new policy paper describes the 2011 strategy as “building blocks”.

“The 2011 Greening government ICT strategy concentrated on embedding the building blocks required to deliver sustainable ICT within government Departments,” Defra said.

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Now that the building blocks are in place, Defra said  the 2020 Greening government strategy aims to concentrate on delivery of best practice.

In the new policy paper which was published earlier in December, Defra stated: “Digital and technology services must be fully utilised, contributing to and enabling achievement of the 2020 Greening Government Commitments by delivering savings of office space, energy, paper, and travel and through use of a pool of best practices.”

It called on the UK government to be recognised as one of the leaders in adopting and exploiting sustainable ICT, in UK, Europe and globally.

The policy paper recommended that electronic waste (e-waste) is minimised and landfill avoided where possible, with the aim that the government should work towards zero landfill of e-waste. It also recommended that remote conferencing services should be used for 40% of government meetings, and these should be conducted without the need for anyone to travel.

The final recommendation concerns reporting. Defra said that ICT footprint tools and techniques for both on and off premise should be developed.

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