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Triple win:

the opportunity

By 2030, ICT will provide benefits across the triple bottom line, from reducing CO2e and resource use, to generating additional revenues, cost savings, as well as wider societal benefits.

Environmental opportunity

Decoupling growth from CO2e and resource use

Environmental opportunity

Business as usual is no longer viable. The world’s ability to absorb CO2e is limited and natural resources are increasingly constrained. Historically, the link between economic growth, CO2e emissions and resource use has been very strong, with 1% growth in world GDP resulting in 0.5% increase in CO2e emissions and 0.4% in resource consumption. This model has reached its limits, as climate change and resource scarcity are becoming more pressing issues. In order to sustain further economic growth in the coming decades, the world must shift to a low carbon growth path by “decoupling” economic growth from CO2e emissions and resource consumption.

By the year 2030, ICT has the potential to hold global CO2e emissions at 2015 levels and to reduce our consumption of scarce resources. The acceleration of digital technologies is increasing the scale and pace of the sustainability benefits especially through greater user centricity, increased digital density and innovative new business models.

ICT offers additional environmental benefits beyond carbon mitigation, such as delivering better agricultural yields and helping to reduce the consumption of scarce resources like fuel, and water and other resources such as paper. Smarter solutions across sectors on a global scale can help produce more while wasting less and hold the potential of effectively decoupling economic growth from CO2e emissions and resource usage.

"Decreasing global carbon emissions and saving scarce resource."

Case example

Connected Car – Solutions for Sustainability

Improving the efficiency of traffic, mobility and private transportation is one of the main ways in which major issues such as CO2e emissions and air pollution can be reduced. Deutsche Telekom developed a Connected Car Solutions Suite for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that can enable people to drive their cars more efficiently and sustainably. Your ‘Connected Car’ can combine a range of smart driving solutions such as: Eco-drive, a coaching system for optimizing driver behavior; Car2x, a real-time guiding system to anticipate the traffic environment; E-Call, an automatic emergency contact system; and Live Traffic, a real-time information system on traffic jams and alternative routes.

These Connected Car solutions provide significant sustainability benefits, not only environmental, but also social and economic. For drivers it can reduce annual CO2e emissions by 15.9% per car, save €237 per year from reduced fuel consumption and 23 hours per year through reduced time in traffic. For the automotive industry, Connected Car solutions helps OEMs contribute to CO2e emissions reduction targets and helps improve reputation as well as market position and sales. For Germany, it was calculated that 16% of all domestic traffic-related CO2e emissions could be avoided, equal to 2% of all domestic CO2e emissions. Furthermore, reduced congestion and traffic jams through ICT-enabled safer and smarter driving would reduce asthma-related sickness days and as well as road accidents.

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benefits quantified

ICT-enabled solutions contribute to reducing the global environmental footprint, through CO2e abatement and resource savings across different sectors globally.

  • Up to 12.08 gt CO2e emission could be reduced by 20301

    CO2e abatement globally

    In a “business as usual” scenario global emissions are expected to increase to 63.5 Gt CO2e by 2030 from current emission levels of 52.4 Gt CO2e in 2015. However, ICT has the potential to hold global CO2e emissions at 2015 levels, even taking into account the sector’s own direct emissions. In fact, by 2030 ICT could generate CO2e abatement of 12.08 Gt CO2e, which is 9.7 times higher the sector’s own direct emissions. Global adoption of ICT could help achieve the goal of breaking the historical connection between economic growth and CO2e emissions, where each 1% of growth in GDP equated to a 0.5% increase in CO2e emissions.

    112.08 Gt CO2e if we include the abatement potential thanks to the inclusion of renewable energies in the grid. This has been deducted to avoid double counting with baseline projections, as the inclusion of renewables may have been included already.

    *Other studies such as Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030, come up with different results, taking into account different assumption
    Source: WRI, IPCC, GeSI, SMARTer2030, Accenture analysis & CO2e models

  • 3.8 gt CO2e can be abated in transportation and 2.5 gt CO2e in manufacuring

    CO2e abatement per sector

    ICT-enabled solutions are expected to have the greatest impact across 8 sectors, where smart manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and mobility contribute more than 70% of the total abatement potential.

    Connected private transportation, optimized traffic flows and smart logistics could help abate 3.8 Gt CO2e, including abatement from avoided travel from other activities, such as e-work, e-health and e-learning. Smart manufacturing, including virtual manufacturing, customer centric production, energy management and smart services could help abate 2.5 Gt CO2e. Productivity and efficiency improvements in the agriculture sector could help abate 2 Gt CO2e, while automated control, smart metering and data analytics in the smart building sector can potentially generate an abatement potential of 2.0 Gt CO2e.

  • ICT can save 25 billion barrels of oil and 332 trilllion liters of water

    Resource Savings

    ICT helps bring efficiency benefits to many of our daily activities such as working, traveling and shopping, as well as in business processes such as manufacturing and food production. By driving efficiency improvements and smarter use of resources ICT has the potential to greatly reduce resource consumption while enhancing productivity and economic outputs.

    Globally and across sectors, ICT could save up to 1 trillion liters of fuel, 25 billion barrels of oil, 300 trillion liters of water and 91 million tons of paper compared to a business as usual scenario. In addition, ICT can help produce more while wasting less. For example, smart agriculture could boost yields by 30%, avoid 20% of food waste, and reduce water use by 251 trillion liters, a number equivalent to 25 times the daily world water consumption.

    +900 kg crop yeld
    increase per hectare from Smart Agriculture
    -25 billion oil barrels
    saved across all sectors analyzed
    -135 milion cars
    reduced from total installed base
    -332 trillion liters of water
    saved across all sectors analyzed

    Source: WRI, IPCC, GeSI, SMARTer2030, Accenture analysis & CO2e models

Economic opportunity

Creating revenue opportunities and reducing costs

Lasting economic growth

If something can be connected to the internet - be it a car, a fridge, a person, a machine, a plant - it can be accessed via mobile applications. The smartphone is thus central to the success of the “internet of things”. Distinctions that were previously clear - the differences between a product and a service, between a car owner and a taxi driver, between an energy provider and an energy user, between doctor and patient – are starting to blur. The world of ICT solutions is becoming more fluid, disrupting existing business models and practices and transforming the status quo in an unprecedented way.

ICT is good for business, creating new revenue opportunities as well as cost savings. The global number of connected devices is expected to grow to 100 billion by 2030, connecting 2.5 billion additional people and delivering ICT-enabled services across diverse sectors. By 2030, we expect 75% of the population to be connected via smartphone and broadband internet, generating revenue opportunities across sectors, as well as significant cost savings due to efficiency improvements.

ICT can help realize cost savings from reduced electricity expenditure, reduced fuel expenditure, as well as from water and paper usage. By doing so, money is freed up for other investments, while energy and scarce resources are saved and CO2e emissions are reduced. A win-win for the economy and the environment.

"Driving sustainable economic growth across sectors"

Case example

Smart Parking – Innovative parking space optimization pilot project.

Together with partner BT and the Open University, the Milton Keynes Council in the UK decided to accelerate its development into a smart city by initiating a pilot project aimed at citywide parking space optimization. Hosted by BT, the established Milton Keynes Data Hub collects and analyzes parking sensor data send to receivers on lampposts via innovative wireless technologies. As one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, Milton Keynes is now able to expand within local infrastructure constraints by identifying free parking spaces and sending information to roadside displays and smartphone apps to guide vehicles towards them.

In addition to real-time information on parking availability, the sensors also provide data on average parking duration, allowing the city to adjust parking restrictions and better meet customer needs. At any point in time there are about 7000 free parking spaces available, but without smart parking guiding people to them, at least 12.000 more spaces will be needed by 2020. Fully deploying this ICT-enabled smart parking solution could provide capital savings of least £105 million to this city alone. In addition to economic benefits, the solution also contributes to 50% less traffic congestion and reduced fuel use and vehicle emissions.

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Economic benefits quantified

ICT solutions generate revenues and cost savings and stimulate growth across industries.

  • Ict could generate $6.5 trillion in revenue opportunities by 2030

    Revenue opportunities

    The enormous increase of connected devices is good for growth and could deliver $6.5 trillion in revenues in 2030: The ICT sector is expected to generate $2 trillion revenue, $0.4 trillion from connecting 2.5 billion new people to ICT services and $1.6 trillion via incremental sales from delivering ICT-enabled services to other sectors plus $4.5 trillion from ICT-enabled revenues by other sectors.

    A broad range of sectors will profit from ICT solutions by 2030 with a total projected revenue generation of $4.5 trillion across sectors. Within the food industry, ICT can help to produce more food and waste less of it. Smart agriculture can boost yields by 30%, avoid 20% of food waste and could deliver economic benefits of almost $2 trillion. Additional e-commerce revenues can be generated from ICT of up to $1.2 trillion, while Energy could potentially create $0.8 trillion in revenue opportunities. The Buildings sector and other sectors together could potentially generate 0.7 trillion by 2030.

  • Ict could generate $4.9 trillion in cost savings by 2030

    Cost savings

    ICT does not only create revenue opportunities, but could also to realize close to $4.9 trillion in cost savings, comprising $1.2 trillion from reduced electricity expenditure, $1.1 trillion from reduced fuel expenditure, and another $2.6 trillion from other saving opportunities including savings on water, paper, food waste, etc.

    Source: WRI, IPCC, Gartner, FAO, GeSI, Accenture & CO2e models. Copyright © Accenture. All rights reserved.

  • Ict investments could generate a return on investment of >50%

    Return on investment

    Our analysis demonstrates that investing in low carbon solutions can be good for business and good for the environment. Across 4 sectors analyzed we have found investment opportunities with a positive Net Present Value (NPV) that could deliver a return on investment between 50% and 80% and can save up to 2 kg of CO2e for every $1 invested. For example, the employment of a smart agriculture solution generates value for money for the farmer. Using a combination of sensors, satellites and data analytics allows a farmer to obtain better insight and knowledge of land conditions and precise requirements and achieve greater farming productivity while reducing the use of resources and cut CO2e.

    Implementing described Smart Agriculture solutions can bring an NPV of $1.36 million with an investment cost of $465 thousand. Average annual revenues from yield increase are expected between $220 and $240 thousand. Average annual savings on farming costs are expected between $10 and $15 thousand.

Connecting the unconnected

Increase participation & well-being and expand your horizons

Connecting the unconnected

Life will be different in 2030, and for the better. By that time, ICT has the potential to connect 2.5 billion currently unconnected people, helping them to improve their quality of life by increasing participation and well-being and by expanding their horizons. Smart solutions provide people affordable access to essential services such as education, healthcare, more productive agriculture, convenient mobility, enhanced livelihoods and personal development opportunities. A new generation of ICT solutions places the user at the center, empowering them to manage every aspect of their own lives, while delivering convenience, cost savings, and even income opportunities.

Within developing markets, ICT drives access to social participation, financial inclusion, personal development and well-being: ICT enables access to education in even the most remote locations allowing kids and adults alike to enhance their education level, generate job opportunities and raise income potential. In particular within remote rural areas ICT can provide people with access to key services that improve their livelihoods such as primary health care, education, energy and access to banking and financial capital.

In developed markets, ICT solutions can enhance personal health, comfort and convenience. The E-Health services offered via your smart device, enables a healthcare system that is preventive, personalized and can be accessed from the comfort of one’s home. ICT solutions can also provide access to sustainable and efficient transportation for a rising urban population, while increasing safety, affordability, and optimizing use of available infrastructure.

These benefits however, cannot be achieved by businesses or policymakers alone. Collaborative action is needed to realize the CO2e abatement potential as well as the expected broader societal benefits. Consumers play an important role here, as they can influence future direction through buying decisions, use of sustainable products and services and driving further adoption of ICT.

"Increasing people´s well-being, saving time and improving income opportunities."

Case example

Connecting communities around the world.

BT is using ICT and expertise to connect communities around the world to the internet. Worldwide, around 4 billion people are currently unconnected to the internet of which more than 90% lives in the developing world. Being connected to the internet allows people to increase their social participation and enhance their livelihoods through access to key services such as education, healthcare or social contacts and communities.

Using the BT infrastructure, skills and expertise, BT aims to connect people worldwide and provide them with access to the societal benefits of ICT. To date, the program has benefited around 73.000 people. For example, through their Connecting Africa program, BT has connected 20 locations in nine African countries to the internet via satellites. The Connecting Africa Medical Centre program is using ICT to help seven SOS Children’s Villages medical centers improve healthcare provision to around 100.000 people. Plans are to connect six remaining centers by the end of 2015.

By connecting the unconnected and leveraging on their skills and knowledge of how to get the most out of technology, BT is able to help provide essential services that could save lives.

Link to webpage:

benefits quantified

ICT-enabled solutions create benefits in income, health and time savings.

  • Connecting 2.5 billion previously unconnected people by 2030

    Income opportunities

    A good quality education is indispensable to raising people´s income potential, but inequalities in access to education still abound. The rising cost of school, university or college education and limited possibilities for travel and mobility are just two of the obstacles for people in the developing world as they seek a better education.

    ICT can help people expand their horizons by providing education or training to anyone, anywhere via smart devices and mobile broadband. Innovations like open community platforms, gamification and multimedia content and materials can create personalized learning eco-systems that are affordable, engaging and accessible in even the most remote areas. By 2030, we expect almost 0.5 billion E-learning participants, all of whom could raise their income potential by 11% through obtaining E-learning degrees.

    In addition to raising income potential, ICT solutions can also help people save costs, freeing up money for other purposes. For example, smart metering in households can generate a $200 annual saving on the energy bill. Globally, $5 billion could be saved through smart meters and other e-devices, this is equivalent to 110,000 times the average yearly salary in the US.

  • 1.6 billion people will have access to E-healthcare by 2030

    Access to Health

    ICT can provide “a doctor in your pocket”, or E-Health services via your smart device, and allows patients to manage their own health via their smart device. By 2030, ICT could deliver E-Health to 1.6 billion people.

    Access to basic healthcare services and health and hygiene education is essential to enhancing people’s health and well-being. E-Health solutions can provide this in an affordable way, placing the user at the center and empowering them to manage their own health via their smart device. Patient-centric E-Health solutions enable remote patient-doctor interaction, allow for early diagnosis of diseases and enhanced personalized treatments. Access to a patient’s real-time health data provides immediate insights and automated diagnostic capabilities. Advanced technologies such as DNA sequencing and data analytics can allow doctors to provide fully personalized treatments that are more effective.

  • 254 Billion Hours saved through use of iCT across different sectors by 2030

    Time savings

    Using ICT solutions can help people save significant amounts of time, while enhancing convenience at the same time. Connectivity between cars, roads, lights and control systems allows for the generation of real-time information on traffic conditions. Traffic control and optimization platforms generate valuable insights for drivers, such as the optimal driving speed to avoid congestion, the best route to avoid a traffic jam or the nearest available parking spot.

    Improved information, prediction and planning allows for efficient driving, routing and parking, fewer accidents and a reduction in congestion and emissions. People using more efficient routes could reduce distances travelled by 25%, effectively saving hours of their time that can now be spend productively. In addition, reduced need to travel via online solutions to shopping, working, learning and banking save people money, fuel and a 100 hours per person yearly, while reducing CO2e emissions associated with travel by 67%.

Action is required in three key areas

Policy Makers

ICT has the potential to maintain global CO2e emissions at 2015 levels, decoupling the past pattern where each 1% of growth in GDP equated to an 0.5% increase in CO2e emissions, and promote sustainable growth through 2030. To realize the potential of low carbon growth, policy action is essential.

Policy interventions are needed in three key areas: Setting and enforcing ambitious national CO2e targets, creating investment incentives in infrastructure deployment geared to connecting the unconnected and establishing a fair, balanced and consistent regulatory approach to ICT solutions that promotes innovation and investments and ensures privacy, security and protection of intellectual property rights.


ICT faces substantial and excellent growth perspectives. Overall, ICT could enable $11.4 trillion stakeholder benefits, comprising $6.5 trillion in new revenues across key sectors and $4.9 trillion in cost savings from greater efficiencies and decreased waste.

To fully realize this $11 trillion business and sustainability opportunity, action is required: Business leaders should drive investment in ICT and cooperate with others in their sector; explore and realize ICT-enabled opportunities and cost savings; and commit to setting bold sustainability targets within your own organization and explore ways ICT can help you to meet your targets.


By connecting 2.5 billion previously unconnected people to services ICT will improve the quality of life by 2030. Consumer buying decisions and sustainable use of products and services are important levers to reaching mass adoption.

To fully realize ICT’s business and sustainability potential, action is required. Consumers should: get ready to “think digital” and try innovative ways of going about work and life; use ICT to better tailor services to their specific needs (i.e. in education, healthcare, mobility or commerce); and use their buying power to encourage businesses and policy makers that are rolling out sustainable ICT-enabled services to do more.