Monday, February 02, 2009

ICT for a Global Sustainable Future

The European Commission has issued a draft document on "ICT for a Global Sustainable Future", held a conference and are inviting comments as part of its PARADISO project. While well meaning it is a shame the EU did not produce an accessible HTML version of the PARADISO document. The PDF version will be hard to download and hard to read. As well has making it hard to access for people on slow links in developing nations, it will generate excessive greenhouse gas emissions due to its inefficient encoding. As an example of the flaws in the document, the Introduction (text appended) has a photo of people in suits sitting in a meeting room. Having to wait and pay money to download this useless photo is not going to be seen as useful by those the document is supposedly trying to help.

The PARADISO project (see WWW.PARADISO-FP7.EU) launched with the support of the European Commission (DG INFORMATION SOCIETY AND MEDIA) aims at identifying strategic research directions on network and service infrastructures suited to the perspective of a global (truly) sustainable future.

The European Union is undoubtedly one of the best placed world powers to proactively promote a new concept of progress, based on revised social, environmental and economic objectives: a true sustainable development, more sustainable economic growth, more equally shared resources, eventually the well-being of peoples around the world, measured through a new “beyond GDP” index related to the progress of societies.

Which ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) applications and services will be needed to support these new objectives? More precisely, which network and service infrastructures will have to be developed?

The PARADISO project, launched in March 2008 and run by SIGMA ORIONIS and the CLUB OF ROME (through its Italian Chapter: the Aurelio Peccei Foundation) will investigate this disruptive paradigm and identify the ICT research areas that have to be explored in this perspective.
The paradigm is being investigated - and the innovative research will be identified - through “The PARADISO reference document”, based to a large extent on the outputs of two international events organised by the project: a scientific workshop (on June 12-13, 2008 in Brussels) and an open conference (on January 22-23, 2009 in Brussels).

The present document is the very first version of the PARADISO reference document, prepared after the PARADISO scientific workshop. It will be extended in the second half of 2008, taking in particular into account the
feedback from the participants in this workshop (see attendee list on next page), and the inputs received from other individuals and organisations, since the document will be made available in the public area of the
PARADISO WEB SITE for open consultation. A more substantial document will thus be prepared before the end of 2008 and discussed on the occasion of the PARADISO open conference of January 2009.

The final version of the document will be released following this conference and widely disseminated so that the key PARADISO messages (a foreseeable paradigm shift worldwide in the definition of societal progress, the proactive role Europe can play to show the way to this better future, the central contribution ICT can bring to achieving revised economic, environmental and social objectives) can be conveyed to the widest possible community and eventually have an impact on the political agenda.

In the meantime, the PARADISO project stakeholders are considering options to build on these first modest achievements, and to further develop the activities of their cross-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder “think and action tank” addressing sustainable future issues with a focus on ICT. All options logically include a close connection with organisations involved in similar activities in Europe and worldwide, in order that synergies can be exploited and that the impact of all initiatives can be even greater and best serve the building of a true sustainable future for peoples around the world.

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