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IEEE Future Tech Forum • April 2021

The Climate Change Roundtable was a complimentary special 90-minute, virtual event, held on 30 April 2021. During the event, moderated by Celia Desmond, our two Keynote Speakers (Charles Despins and Jaafar Elmirghani) and invited panelists (Louise Krug, Luis Neves, and Volker Ziegler) commented on climate change and associated threats, discussed potential ideas for resolutions, and highlighted developments/initiatives that help contribute to the goal of combating climate change.

This Climate Change Roundtable is an IEEE Future Tech Forum event, brought to you by IEEE Future Directions.

Available on-demand: click here to access the event recording. 


Event Moderator: Celia Desmond

Celia Desmond is President of World Class – Telecommunications, providing telecommunications management training. Celia established and ran the PMO for Echologics. Her team managed all proposals, contracts, and project management processes, She has lectured internationally on programs for success in today’s changing environment. As Director at Stentor Resource Center Inc., she was instrumental in establishing governance, culture, and service/product development processes. At Bell Canada, Celia provided strategic direction to corporate planners, ran technology/service trials, standardized equipment, and supported large business clients.

Celia was 2016-1017 IEEE Division III Director. She has held numerous IEEE positions including, Secretary, IEEE VP – Technical Activities, ComSoc President, IEEE Canada President, VP Technology and Engineering Management Society, and Project Director for ComSoc’s Wireless Engineering certification.

Celia holds MSc. Engineering, B.Sc. Mathematics & Psychology, Ontario Teaching Certificate, and PMP certification. Celia has taught kindergarten, high school, and at 5 universities. She is the author of 2 Project Management books.

Keynote Speakers:

Charles Despins The IEEE Sustainable ICT initiative
Jaafar Elmirghani Sustainability of Communication Networks and Data Centres

Invited Speakers:

Louise Krug Climate change and telecommunications
Luis Neves The ICT sector as an enabler for a more sustainable world
Volker Ziegler 6G technology and architecture to foster global sustainability impact



Speaker:  Dr. Charles Despins
Talk Title: The IEEE Sustainable ICT initiative

Abstract: Climate change and the digital revolution have been described as respectively as humanity’s biggest challenge in the 21st century and the most significant transformation in human history. Recognizing this, the IEEE created its Sustainable Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Initiative to leverage the expertise of its 400,000+ members in stimulating ICT development and adoption for the fight against climate change. The initiative has led to the creation of new standards to assess and limit ICT greenhouse gas emissions and is also focused on education and publications.

Dr. Charles Despins’  career has spanned, over more than 35 years, both the academic and industrial segments of the information technology and communications sector. In addition to having been a faculty member of INRS-Telecommunications (Université du Québec) in Montreal, he later held senior management positions in the private sector including senior director of technology development at Microcell Telecommunications as well as vice-president and chief technology officer of Bell Nordiq Group. He also worked as a consultant for wireless network deployments in India and China. After leaving his full-time academic position in 1996, he remained active in research as an adjunct professor at INRS.

From 2003 to 2016, he was also founding President & CEO of Prompt, a university-industry research consortium which is a now highly recognized collaborative research actor in Québec. He rejoined academia in 2016 and is currently professor of electrical engineering after serving as vice-president – research & partnerships and Dean of Research at École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS), Université du Québec.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from McGill University in Montreal, as well as M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees, also in electrical engineering, from Carleton University in Ottawa. He was the recipient of the (1993) Best Paper of the Year award in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. He was named in 2005 a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada and was the recipient in 2006 of the Outstanding Engineer Award from IEEE Canada for (citation) “excellence in the electrical engineering profession in both academia and industry”.

He has been the co-Chair of the IEEE Sustainable ICT initiative since its inception and a strong advocate on this theme for more than a decade.


Speaker:  Professor Jafaar Elmirghani
Talk Title: Sustainability of Communication Networks and Data Centres

Abstract: ICT has a carbon footprint comparable to that of the global aviation industry. Unlike the global aviation industry, traffic in communication networks continues to grow at 30% to 40% per year, thus doubling every two years and increasing potentially by factors of 30x in 10 years and 1000x in 20 years, which is not sustainable. This talk addresses the measures that are currently being introduced to reduce the carbon footprint of networks and data centers. It also outlines 9 new standards introduced by IEEE in this area.

Professor Jaafar Elmirghani is Fellow of IEEE, Fellow of IET and Fellow of Institute of Physics and Director of the Institute of Communication and Power Networks, Leeds. He has provided outstanding leadership in a number of large research projects, secured over £30m in grants and was PI of the £6m EPSRC Intelligent Energy Aware Networks (INTERNET) Programme Grant, 2010-2016. He was PI of the CHIST-ERA STAR project with a focus on energy efficiency, 2013-2016. He is Co-Chair of the IEEE Sustainable ICT initiative, a pan IEEE Societies initiative responsible for Green ICT activities across IEEE, 2012-present. He was awarded in international competition the IEEE Comsoc 2005 Hal Sobol award, 3 IEEE Comsoc outstanding technical achievement and service awards (2009, 2015, 2020), the 2015 GreenTouch 1000x award, IET Optoelectronics 2016 Premium Award for work on energy efficiency, and shared the 2016 Edison Award in the collective disruption category with a team of 6 from GreenTouch for joint work on the GreenMeter. His work led to 5 IEEE standards with a focus on cloud and fog computing and energy efficiency, where he currently heads the workgroup responsible for IEEE P1925.1, IEEE P1926.1, IEEE P1927.1, IEEE P1928.1, and IEEE P1929.1 standards; this resulting in significant impact through industrial and academic uptake. He is Area Editor of IEEE JSAC series on Machine Learning for Communications and is PI of the EPSRC £6.6m Terabit Bidirectional Multi-user Optical Wireless System (TOWS) for 6G LiFi, 2019-2024. He has published over 550 technical papers and has research interests in energy efficiency, optimization, machine learning, cloud, and fog computing.


Speaker:  Ms. Louise Krug
Talk Title: Climate change and telecommunications

Abstract: Extreme weather events cause major problems for communications networks, the very networks that emergency services rely on during emergencies. Given these threats, BT has been taking action for over 25 years to reduce its environmental impact, but ever growing traffic levels present a fundamental problem. There is also a feedback cycle – climate change drives need for increasing communications and power infrastructure which in turn can drive climate change. This talk will address some of these issues and solutions.

Ms. Louise Krug is the technical lead for BT’s Applied Research Sustainability work. Her energy modeling of the BT network has helped to drive major network changes. Her research benefits from a multidisciplinary approach, using physics, engineering, data science, and human behaviors to identify solutions and drive change. She has worked on many collaborative research projects across industry and academia and published over 40 papers and book chapters.


Speaker:  Mr. Luis Neves
Talk Title: The ICT sector as an enabler for a more sustainable world

Abstract: By 2030, the world can be a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous one, with greater opportunities for individuals everywhere, if we are able to harness the enabling potential of digital technologies. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector can disrupt business-as-usual and radically reshape the way we live, as well as reduce the impact that continuous economic growth has on the health of our planet. Until now, there has been a strong correlation between economic growth and increased energy consumption but the long-term work of GeSI has proven that the ICT sector is a central pillar in the response to climate change as it can decouple economic growth from emissions growth and help accelerate efforts to a build a more sustainable world.

Mr. Luis Neves is CEO of the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) since 2017. Prior to that, from 2008-2017, Luis held the position of GeSI Chairman. Under Luis’ leadership, GeSI has become a globally recognized “thought industry leader” organization in the field of ICT- sustainability with strong focus on the enabling role and positive contribution of digital technologies to climate protection.

Prior to GeSI, Luis worked at Deutsche Telekom for over 15 years holding positions such as Head of Sustainable Development and Environment, VP of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability and Climate Protection Officer. Luis has also held positions and played relevant roles at European and international levels in organisations, such as the UN Global Compact Lead Group, Econsense -the German Sustainability Association, World Resources Forum Association and UNFCCC Momentum for Change Initiative.

Luis was born in Portugal and obtained a degree in History from the University of Lisbon.


Speaker:  Dr. Volker Ziegler
Talk Title: 6G technology and architecture to foster global sustainability impact

Abstract: The post-pandemic future will offer tremendous opportunity and challenge from the transformation of the human experience, this is the time for a 6G vision to expand human experience and foster sustainability impact. Our vision is about the physical world and the digital worlds deeply intertwined; human biological systems seamlessly coupled and new sensory and cognitive dimensions for 2030 and beyond.  We will need to leverage performance and value indicators for sustainability from 6G era use case families. Creating and consuming new digital worlds, augmenting our intelligence, and controlling our automatons can help tackle global sustainability goals such as needed action on climate change. At Nokia Bell Labs we have successfully started our 6G research on technology for communications in the 2030s: to customize the air-interface framework, expand the use of spectrum to higher bands, and to co-design systems for communication and sensing. Novel architecture concepts for the 6G era will be driven by a decomposition of the architecture into platform, functions, orchestration, and specialization aspects.

Dr. Volker Ziegler is an energetic leader with 25+ years of broad and international experience in the telecommunications industry. He is known for his strong commitment to customer and team achievements. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated an ability to meet and exceed targets through a strong intellectual grasp, excellent leadership skills, and a strong focus on creating new opportunities and business development impact.

Currently, Volker exercises a leadership role with Nokia Bell Labs in 6G research and he leads Nokia digital transformation initiatives aimed at exploring and leveraging innovations with customers and partners in the fledgling ecosystem for the 6G era.

In his previous role as Head of 5G Leadership and Chief Architect of Nokia Mobile Networks, Volker played a key role in defining Nokia e2e 5G offering and positioning Nokia strongly in 5G and associated innovation, technologies, and architecture. Prior to this, Volker served in Head of Strategy roles of the company and as Head of the North East region, driving market share gain in many key markets, including Scandinavia, Russia, and Turkey.


Available on-demand: click here to access the event recording.