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Working towards achieving a sustainable future: Defra and UNFCCC

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Climate action

Sparking new ideas and taking action towards achieving a sustainable future was the theme of last week’s climate action, net-zero virtual conference.

Defra’s Digital Data and Technology Services (DDTS) aims to achieve Net Zero by 2025. Organisations such as Microsoft, Atos, Cap Gemini, Xerox, Vodafone, Tier 1, and Crown Hosting have pledged to help Defra achieve this target for the services they deliver to Defra DDTS.

Defra and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hosted the conference on Thursday which brought together industry, policy makers, NGO’s and the media.Together they represented 200,000 businesses globally including the Confederation of British Industries, the Bank of England, UK Environmental Law Association, TechUK, Sustainability West Midlands, CEDaCI and many more.

Tamara Finkelstein, opened the virtual conference by setting out the UK’s vision and ambition. She said:

Defra is proud of what we have achieved with our partners in promoting sustainable ICT practice across the UK Government and more widely. Defra’s Digital, Data and Technology Services (DDTS) leads on sustainable ICT across Government. In October 2018 we developed and launched the HMG Sustainable Technology Strategy 2020. The strategy underlines how cross-government ICT practices can play a critical role in supporting sustainability targets such as Net Zero through improved sustainable procurement and the need to report transparently on key sustainability issues. As part of our ongoing efforts on capacity building we are working with the UNFCCC and other partners to share knowledge and best practice globally.

A spokesperson from the UNFCCC, Niclas Svenningsen said:

National governments are responsible for translating the Paris agreements into Law, establishing policies, enabling cooperation, informing, and educating. Private Sector has a big role to play to lead action in their areas, minimise risks, enable a smart climate society by providing climate-smart products and services, communicate and promote. Civil Society should engage, inform, research, facilitate, and encourage action. Individuals must make decisions, use climate-smart products & services. Global climate action is not only for national governments but for all of us.

Other key presenters from Defra included Shirley Trundle climate change policy director who presented on the preparations for COP26 (a global summit of the United Nations about climate change and what nations are planning to do to tackle it, this year to be hosted by the UK) and the UK’s climate action plan.

Paul Caldwell, CEO of the Rural Payments Agency, presented on UK’s climate action plan for the agricultural sector with a call to action to technology companies on precision farming, economically viable solutions for land managers to adopt at scale and a need to bring dispersed data together.

While Chris Howes, Chief Digital Information Officer for DDTS, presented on Digital technology’s ability to cut global emissions by 15% or one-third of the 50% reduction required by 2030 through solutions in energy, manufacturing, agriculture, and land use, buildings, services, transportation, and traffic management.

Find out more about what happened at the conference:

Highlight from the conference (with subtitles).

Twitter link


Tamara Finkelstein Permanent Secretary - Defra
UNFCCC Global Climate Action Team – United Nations
Shirley Trundle Director UK Climate Change Policy - Defra
Paul Caldwell CEO - Rural Payments Agency - Defra
Chris Howes (Conference Host) Chief Digital Information Officer - Defra
David Burrows Managing Director for Worldwide Public Sector Strategy - Microsoft
Kulveer Ranger Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications - Atos & TechUK board member
Scott Petty Chief Technology Officer - Vodafone
Xavier Heiss President for Europe Operations - Xerox
Sue Preston General Manager & Vice-President for UK&I - HPE


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