Markets working to support sustainable development

Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a voluntary industry-led initiative that brings together over industry partners to address sustainability in the ICT sector.

Launched in 2001 in partnership with UNEP, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative has 5 main areas of work:

  • Climate Change – identifying areas where ICT can help to reduce electricity consumption and increase energy efficiency. Major opportunities for increasing efficiency lies in use of smart grids and replacing physical objects and activities with electronic or virtual alternatives.
  • Supply Chain – the ICT sector faces the challenges of environmental and poor labour standards throughout the supply chain. One area of major work is ensuring that the minerals so vital to electronics are sourced from conflict-free areas. A particular concern is mineral extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) being used to fund on-going civil conflicts both in the DRC and neighbouring countries.
  • Energy Efficiency – working to develop common industry-wide standards for energy efficiency ratings.
  • E-Waste – an estimated 20 to 50 million tonnes of ICT related waste is accumulated every year. This needs to be disposed of responsibly (owing to the materials often used in ICT products). The initiative also works on reusing or recycling materials from the sector.
  • Public Policy – promotion of ICT for sustainable development, predominantly in the US and EU but increasingly in Asia too. 

A board is elected every 2 years with 4 representatives from manufacturers, 4 from service providers and 1 from the ITU.

Market coverage: 

There are over 30 members and partners, including major companies such as Nokia, Motorola, Vodafone, Telefonica, Microsoft and HP. 

Background information: 

The Initiative released the SMART2020 publication in 2008 detailing ICT’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (estimated to be around 2.8% of total global emissions by 2020) as well as potential opportunities for ICT in reducing emissions across sectors. Members of the initiative also committed to reducing their own carbon footprints as part of the SMART2020 report.


Funding source: 

Funded through membership fees - full membership costs US$20,000 a year.