The Sustainability Working Group (SUS WG) aims to develop stronger awareness and new expertise regarding the different aspects of sustainability in the digital sector, including electronic communications networks and services. The activities and topics addressed are interlinked with the work of the other WGs of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The SUS WG also works towards a sustainable strategy and keeps mobilising BEREC’s expertise to actively contribute to improving transparency, measurement and mitigation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) environmental footprint. The SUS WG pursues its environmental transparency analysis, the empowerment of end users through information on digital products and services, and the role of the circular economy in the digital sector, such as the life cycle of devices and equipment.

Working Group Co-chairs

The image shows Sandrine Elmi Hersi, Co-chair of the BEREC Sustainability Working Group
The image shows Kateřina Děkanovská, Co-chair of the BEREC Sustainability Working Group

Sandrine Elmi Hersi

Arcep, France

Kateřina Děkanovská

CTU, Czech Republic

(Note: This video was recorded in 2022).

Work in 2023

In 2023, the SUS WG will continue working on related topics based on the BEREC Work Programme 2023.

BEREC Report on Sustainability Indicators for electronic communications networks and services

BEREC intends to consider what indicators might be suitable for evaluating and better characterizing the environmental sustainability of Electronic Communications Networks (ECN) and Electronic Communications Services (ECS). This intention should be seen in the context of the European Commission’s (ECs) objectives defined by the Green Deal and the digital strategy Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, calling for highly energy-efficient and sustainable data centres and transparency measures regarding the environmental footprint of telecom operators.

BEREC aims to contribute to identifying and defining such indicators and setting a basic framework for, if possible, a common and harmonised European Union (EU) assessment methodology for the environmental sustainability of ECN and ECS. The first step will be to analyse the most relevant environmental impacts to monitor the environmental footprint of telecommunications in line with the Product Environmental Footprint methodologies developed by the EC. The second step will be to identify existing reporting mechanisms used within the sector to follow up on these impacts and potential loopholes that need to be tackled. This work could also consider broader indicators of digital infrastructures' impact on the lifecycle of products and services.

Potential ad-hoc work on ICTs sustainability in the frame of the European Green Deal implementation

BEREC seeks to proactively contribute with its expertise on digital markets to efforts to accelerate the twin green and digital transition, in line with the agenda of the EC, the Council, the European Parliament and other competent authorities on this matter.

In 2023, BEREC aims to be ready to provide its analysis as input for potential further projects and proposals from other EU bodies related to the twin green and digital transition. This would, in particular, include the promotion of greener networks deployment, the improvement of transparency regarding the environmental footprint of digital infrastructures, the enhancement of circular economy and energy efficiency performance for ICT and telecommunications and ICTs in general when appropriate, the assessment of environmental impacts of emerging technologies transforming digital markets such as blockchain, Metaverse and Artificial Intelligence technologies and the investigation of the enabling effects of the ICT sector on other sectors in the context of the green transformation.

BEREC contribution to empowering end-users through environmental transparency on digital products and services

BEREC considers end-users awareness of environmental issues critical for their empowerment and for ICT sustainability. Environmental information on digital products and services could enlighten users’ choices in terms of their digital consumption.

In 2023, as input for the report, BEREC will engage in a fact-finding process to raise National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) knowledge of existing work and analysis of this issue in the form of a workshop on end-users empowerment by providing them with environmental information. The report should provide a general overview of initiatives by NRAs and other relevant stakeholders regarding the empowerment of end-users in terms of sustainability, and an analysis of the most effective ways of reaching out to end-users in this regard. Particular attention will be given to circular economy, especially concerning life cycle of devices and equipment durability and reparability principles.

Why is this important?

In the past years, sustainability and climate challenges have gained momentum. Especially since the European Green Deal, the digital sector and its impact on the environment have attracted more attention, placing sustainability at its heart. Among others, several questions emerged – How to deploy greener networks? How to apply an approach to digitalisation? How to create positive incentives for services or device providers?