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Green Government: ICT and digital services strategy published

Defra has published its Greening government: ICT and digital services strategy 2020-2025.

Further to our workshop with Defra earlier this year, Defra has published its Greening government: ICT and digital services strategy 2020-2025. This strategy sets out how the government will work in partnership with industry and other sectors to provide ICT and digital services to help:

  • achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • implement Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan
  • meet the government’s net zero commitments

We’ll be running a briefing event with Defra on the 6 October, but in summary the strategy is sets out 2020 business rules and stretching 2025 targets that have been developed to aide ambition and give you forewarning of future direction. They include:

Business rule 1: To meet net zero by 2050 (or sooner)

2020: All ICT suppliers commit to science-based net zero targets in line with the Paris Agreement (or procuring department target, whichever is sooner) and have developed carbon mitigation and adaptation strategies.

2025: All ICT suppliers follow up the commitment they made to becoming net zero with a road map and action plan, showing proven progress towards the goals. Seeking a carbon positive/net gain/net positive outcome through the services provided.

Business rule 2: Circular economy – resources and waste strategy

2020: HMG estates deliver 0% to landfill with an annual increase in reuse and materials recycled. All suppliers have circular ICT policies and strategies and products are routinely designed for durability, ease of maintenance and recycling. Problematic materials and substances have, or are being, phased out of use.

2025: HMG suppliers have established zero waste to landfill or zero-waste targets. Suppliers are meeting targets to incorporate more recycled materials in their products and eliminate the use of single use plastics. There’s a yearly increase in ICT kit purchased/leased that is remanufactured/refurbished.

Business rule 3: To meet transparency and accountability commitments

2020: Supply chain data on carbon, environmental impacts, materials, chemicals, and wider business responsibilities are regularly harvested and analysed from tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers. For instance, blockchain is used to trace raw materials and digitise product information (digital labels, tags, watermarks, passports) thereby providing easily accessible supply chain and product information. HMG purchases only from suppliers that comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act and use of the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Assessment Tool (MSAT).

2025: Suppliers help HMG map supply chains to identify high risk areas, and focussed mitigation work on those categories/supplier partners is in place. Common international reporting frameworks and standards are used with data being monitored in real time (open data standard) to measure and map key performance indicators. Reporting established for management and awareness of resilience from climate and ecological breakdown.

In addition, the government has committed to the following outcomes:

1. Reduced carbon and cost

  • 1.1 Only procure with suppliers who have committed to or are the process of setting science-based targets that match departmental sustainability outcomes.
  • 1.2 Publish a reduced ICT carbon and ecological footprint, based on the services consumed, on estates and with suppliers, encompassing embodied/embedded carbon.
  • 1.3 ICT and digital services are designed with sustainability in mind and through adherence to the Technology Code of Practice.

2. Increased resilience

  • 2.1 Embed gold standard procurement criteria removing modern slavery and socially negative activities from ICT supply chains.
  • 2.2 Map and monitor the supply chain data for the ICT systems and services used by departments and across HMG.
  • 2.3 Stress and scenario test ICT supply chains to increase preparedness to ecological and climate breakdown.

3. Increased responsibility

  • 3.1 Increase awareness/impact of the role of the responsible digital citizen through delivery of training and education.
  • 3.2 Embed sustainable ICT principles within key roles and deliverables across government.
  • 3.3 Embed sustainable ICT principles within departmental/agency/body policy and strategy.

4. Increased transparency

  • 4.1 Publish an accurate ICT footprint based on the services consumed, on estates and with suppliers, encompassing embodied/embedded carbon.
  • 4.2 Map and account for all ICT at end of life.
  • 4.3 Establish, operate and participate in an HMG sustainability supplier steering group.

5. Increased accountability

  • 5.1 Report an annual percentage improvement in the procurement of remanufactured/refurbished ICT promoting multiple usage lifecycles.
  • 5.2 Report ICT figures within GGC and ARA processes (and successors in cross-government sustainability reporting).


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