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Defra to lead creation of cloud-focused IT sustainability standard for use across government

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs continues its work to help government departments clean up their IT supply chains by creating a ‘cloud sustainability’ workstream

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is leading a project to ensure sustainability considerations are factored into the UK government’s cloud strategy, Computer Weekly has learned.

The work includes the creation of a “cloud sustainability” workstream that will be tasked with creating a standard that government departments and private sector firms can use to improve the environmental friendliness of their IT supply chains.

The project supports a joint effort by the Crown Commercial Service and the Government Digital Service to accelerate the adoption of cloud services in the public sector through the One Government Cloud Strategy.

Introduced in 2020, the strategy champions the cross-functional adoption of cloud technologies within the public sector, while also giving IT decision-makers access to best-practice guidance on how to migrate their applications and workloads off-premise.

Mattie Yeta, head of sustainable IT at Defra, is heading up the workstream, and told the department’s staff in an internal email on Monday 15 February 2021 that it hopes to publish details of the resulting sustainability-focused IT standard by early April.

“In this temporary role, I will be responsible for developing and pulling together a standard for UK government departments and the private sector,” said the email, seen by Computer Weekly.

“The standard will focus on ‘Sustainable IT’ (eg achieving net-zero, modern slavery and other supply chain matters) and ‘IT for Sustainability’ – including the social pillar, how we procure and measure our performance on all things cloud!”

The email concludes with Yeta asking colleagues to pass on any material they would like considered for inclusion in the standard, which Computer Weekly understands will also include elements of various guidance and advice that Defra has previously published on sustainability.

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As such, Computer Weekly understands the standard will include information gleaned from reports by the cross-government Sustainable Technology Advice and Reporting Group, as well as the Defra E-Sustainability Alliance.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, Yeta confirmed her involvement in the project. “Defra is leading a new cloud sustainability project which will support the way providers deliver cloud to ensure sustainable development,” she said.

“This will benefit Defra and departments across government – and I am delighted to be leading this workstream.”

Cloud sustainability is not a new issue for Defra to be leading the charge on – the department previously called on government departments in April 2019 to furnish it with details of the energy footprint of the cloud services they use, as part of its ongoing work to curb the government’s energy use.

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