Latest Greening Government strategy points to demanding new sustainable procurement rules for IT suppliers
The government has this week unveiled a new strategy for reducing the environmental impact of its digital activities over the next five years, in a bid to meet its Greening Government Commitments and ensure that all its IT supplier have credible net zero emissions strategies in place.
In the policy paper, titled Greening the government: ICT and digital services strategy, the government pledges to ensure its "digital infrastructure and associated supply chains are rationalised, responsible, resilient and free of slavery/exploitation creating environmental, economic benefits for all".
The paper's stated objectives include: reduced carbon and cost, increased resilience, increased responsibility, increased transparency and increased accountability.
As such, the new strategy seeks a range of sustainability commitments from suppliers as a prerequisite for securing government procurement contracts.
Underpinning the strategy are a series of three business goals which have been created in collaboration with the tech industry, the government said. These include supporting the national goal to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, enabling the transition to a circular economy, and honouring transparency and accountability commitments.
The three rules mean that by 2025, all government suppliers of ICT must have a commitment to become net zero with an action plan and evidence of positive progress.
In addition, while government estates must have zero waste to landfill and annual increases in recycling from this year, by 2025 government suppliers will likewise be required to have established zero waste to landfill targets.
The strategy is mapped on to the governments wider efforts to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and national climate targets.
Chris Howes, chief digital information officer at Defra, said an ambitious sustainable digital strategy is a vital component for the government's wider emissions reduction targets.
"ICT and digital services are increasingly held up as a key component of any solution to the global climate crisis and associated targets and goals. These include the UK government's commitment to net zero carbon by 2050, the Greening Government Commitments 2020-2025, The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 25 Year Environment Plan," he said.
Howes added that the recent widespread switch to homeworking in response to the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the crucial role ICT plays in bolstering resilience and enabling greener working practices.
"We have shown recently how ICT and digital services can enable our civil and public servants working from home, increasing resilience during an international crisis," he said.
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