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Telecom giants to brief UNEP governing council on industry environmental achievements and challenges

Nairobi, 3 February 1999 - Senior officials from the telecommunications industry, world leaders in innovative technologies, will be taking part in a special round table discussion on Thursday, 4 February, during this week's session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The round table will provide a unique opportunity for the industry to highlight its environmental achievements and challenges to the assembled Environment Ministers and other key decision-makers that make up the 58-member Council.

The round table is being jointly organized by UNEP and the Colorado-based NGO, Center for Resource Management (CRM). It will be an occasion for industry representatives from North America to introduce their Communications Environmental Excellence Initiative, a voluntary charter developed recently in close cooperation with CRM. The discussion will explore the potential of the Initiative to influence industry and governments and identify areas in which the two can forge partnerships to each other's benefit.

Joined by their counterparts from the European Public Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), the discussion will also focus on how telecommunications technology might be used globally to address serious environmental and social problems, especially to lessen some of the effects of large-scale urbanization. An Environmental Charter of European Telecommunications Network Operators signed in 1996, which contains wide ranging commitments towards environmental objectives, has been established under ETNO auspices.

Voluntary approaches have been used increasingly in recent years, by both industry and governments, as a policy tool to improve environmental performance. They can range from commitments from an individual company to entire industrial sectors, at both the national and international levels. Such initiatives present several advantages to industry, offering greater flexibility in meeting environmental performance targets, as well as the opportunity to present a better public image.

Executives expected to participate include those from US West, Bell South, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Kenya Post and Telecommunications Coorporation.

UNEP has a long history with the use of voluntary initiatives to improve companies' environmental performance. Sharing of experience and information takes place through regular consultations with a wide range of industry associations, multi-stakeholder discussions, publications and guidelines, and the integration of such initiatives in UNEP's work on cleaner production, ozone protection and energy efficiency.

The twentieth Governing Council session is being marked by greater efforts to involve members of civil society, including the private and NGO sector, in the work of the UN and UNEP. In addition to the telecommunications round table, other parallel events have also involved industry representatives from the chemicals, insurance and tourism sectors.


Note to journalists: Representatives from the telecommunications industry will hold a press briefing at 2pm in conference room 7.

For more information please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
Conference Spokesman on
tel: (254-2)-623292,

Robert Bisset,
UNEP Press Officer on
tel: (254-2)-623084, fax: (254-2)-623692,

UNEP News Release 1999/11

Wednesday 03 Feb 1999
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