Back to the Green Tech Forum: Towards a more responsible digital world
On Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd December, the second edition of the GreenTech Forum was held in Paris, the professional event dedicated to reducing the environmental footprint of digital technology. The objective: to promote responsible digital technology to enable public and private organisations to reduce their environmental impact.
Organised under the patronage of Planet Tech Care, the event was attended by nearly 2,000 participants and featured numerous workshops, stands and conferences. Smile and Alterway were obviously present, along with Véronique Torner, Co-founder and Managing Director of Alter Way, and Chair of the event's Programme Committee. This was an opportunity to go back over the fundamentals of digital responsibility and how to take a greener digital approach!
The environmental impact of digital technology
Doing a search engine, storing files, sending an email... Each of these small digital actions that are part of our daily lives has consequences on the climate, biodiversity and the depletion of natural resources. Today, digital technology accounts for between 2 and 4% of the global footprint and of our GEAS (Greenhouse Gas) budget. A figure that threatens to continue to rise in the coming years with the digital transformation.
This is why it is essential to act on a daily basis, in our habits and ways of using digital: by extending the life expectancy of our equipment, by limiting our energy consumption, but also and above all as professionals by designing and developing services and tools with a low environmental impact.
Digital green: from Green for IT to IT for Green!
When we think of responsible digital or Green IT, we tend to reduce this notion to an eco-design, development or hosting approach for our digital tools and services. However, digital technology can be a formidable vector of ecological transition on several levels. Entering into a Green IT approach means identifying and deploying all the digital solutions that will reduce the carbon impact and energy consumption in general, with effects on all the other sectors.
Green for IT refers to the continuous improvement approach to reducing the ecological, economic and social footprint of information and communication technologies (ICT). In concrete terms, this means, for example, eco-design, application optimisation, green hosting, Greenops, etc.
IT for Green, for its part, will make it possible to identify levers for reducing environmental impact through digital technology. In other words, digital technology can be used to reduce the environmental impact of energy-intensive practices and processes within structures and companies.
But digital responsibility does not stop at the environmental notion. It also encompasses all practices and uses aimed at meeting social challenges: RGPD, accessibility, inclusion, ethics, etc. An approach that must therefore be considered in its entirety.
How to initiate a Green IT approach within your company?
Once you are convinced of the interest and urgency of initiating a responsible digital approach within your organisation, the first essential step is to raise awareness. This process can be initiated at all levels, both in the IT department and in the business. The objective is to understand what we are talking about and to master the issues and different levers. With the identification of an internal GreenIT referent whose mission will be to lead the various projects, including awareness-raising. The organisation of a digital mural is a good example of setting up an internal awareness-raising process.
Then comes the time for evaluation. This involves understanding and measuring the current impact not only of digital devices, but of the entire production chain in order to identify all the levers for improving the structure and its uses and to be able to act at each level.
Once these two stages have been completed, it will then be possible to take action.
A benchmark for digital eco-responsibility
Today, we are seeing more and more public and private initiatives working towards a more responsible digital environment. The recognition since 2020 of the environmental impact of digital technology by the government and Europe has led to the first measures announcing a profound change, and a law to reduce the digital environmental footprint in France was adopted in second reading in the Senate in November 2021.
A year later, the famous General Ecodesign Framework for Digital Services (GDFS) was born. Conducted within the framework of the interministerial responsible digital mission and co-piloted by the Interministerial Digital Directorate (DINUM), the Ministry of Ecological Transition, ADEME and the Institut du Numérique Responsable, this reference framework lists verifiable, generic and timeless criteria for carrying out a compliance audit of digital services with the aim of reducing their environmental impact. Consult the RGESN (under Etalab open licence)
A standard that must be integrated into a virtuous circle including existing standards and regulations, such as the RGAA for digital accessibility, the RGI for interoperability, or the RGPD for personal data protection.
Responsible Digital: soon to be the norm?
Responsible Digital is therefore a digital technology that is part of a trajectory of positive impact on the environment, but also on a social, societal and economic level. It is a form of digital technology that reconciles economic development and the CSR trajectory of companies. With the appearance of the reference framework, alongside numerous existing resources, and the multiplication of initiatives led by the government that are part of the "ecological planning" framework, the digital landscape is tending to evolve towards a more sustainable and respectful model.
Today there are no legal constraints yet, but they tend to arrive quickly, as was the case for the regulations on digital accessibility. Eventually, a European regulation on the subject could also emerge. The convergence between ecological and digital transition is now a reality, and it is by federating private and public actors that this challenge can be met.
"Faced with the climate emergency, it is essential to federate, and digital technology is one of the levers of transformation. It would be dangerous to ignore the opportunities that digital technology can offer. Let's not demonise digital technology, let's make it responsible! "Véronique Torner - Opening plenary of the Green Tech Forum.
Smile: A committed player in responsible digital technology
A key player in Open Source for over 30 years, and a leader and signatory of the Planet Tech'Care initiative, the Smile group is committed to the 4 pillars of responsible digital technology, which are in line with our historical positioning: openness, accessibility, GreenIT and respect for personal data.
We support our clients in the reflection and deployment of more responsible solutions by imagining services as levers for our clients' transformation.
Our resources to go further
White Paper Green Ops on Alter Way