Overview of 2020 Edition

February 24, 2020

Welcome to the 2020 edition of The Mobile Century: Life and Work in the Digital Era. In this edition we are focusing on the global challenge of our era – climate change and how to ensure a sustainable, green economy and society into the future. Despite the cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, due to the COVID-19 virus, we decided to publish this edition as a webzine, and to look forward to further discussion on the topic as we prepare to meet again in Barcelona in 2021.

While the subject of green technology is not new, the challenge for the ICT and broader tech sector remains two-fold:  to reduce its carbon and environmental footprint, while also grasping the opportunity presented by the need to address the climate emergency.

As an Australian I have witnessed first-hand over recent months the most extreme bushfire summer season that anyone can remember, followed by extreme flooding as the drought has broken in some of the same areas. The shock and horror of this experience has brought home to many Australians that this is a global emergency which we must all address, in order to try to limit future catastrophic events. And for business, there is a realization that consumer sentiment has now turned towards sustainable industries, with major investors such as large pension funds now favouring investment in industries and firms which reduce or mitigate their environmental impact.

For the tech sector, this presents an enormous opportunity to grow new businesses while also addressing this global challenge. These vast business and investment opportunities are now emerging. Professor Lord Nicholas Stern estimated the global green tech market as follows “Globally, the market to supply low-carbon power, transport and building technologies could be worth more than US$3 trillion per year in 2050 (IEA 2010). The opportunities in low-carbon power alone could be around US$380 billion per year, spread across a range of technologies. PWC’s estimates for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggest annual sustainability-related investment opportunities in natural resource sectors in 2050, in food and agriculture and forestry of $1.2 trillion per year and $200 billion per year, respectively.”[1]

It is because of this business and investment potential that the ICT and broader digital technology sector are now turning their focus to the future of green tech and the development of a low carbon future. This is an industry which has transformed the global economy and society in only a few decades from an analogue to a digital reality. The challenge now is to become major players in driving the economic and social transformation to a low carbon sustainable future.

I hope you are inspired to action and further thought by these articles on a range of issues, including: the promise of new battery technology; how the mobile industry is enabling a low carbon future; the role of satellites in earth intelligence and space situational awareness; the future of the energy sector; how we can create green data centres; and the ongoing policy debate around climate change and its response.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to our authors, who have given so generously of their time and expertise to contribute to this discussion. We acknowledge the support of our Gold Sponsor, SINCH, who are ready to welcome our guests at our Welcome Reception in Barcelona in 2021. We would also like to congratulate the GSMA on the tenth anniversary of its Connected Women program, while mWomen continues to promote innovative mobile solutions for women in the developing world, and Women4Tech encourages women and girls to develop their careers in mobile technology. We are proud to partner with these industry leading programs.

Vicki MacLeod



[1] https://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/green_growth-opportunities_for_new_zealand_vivid_economics_and_energy_centre.pdf