[Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2023] The ICT sector and green digital skills will be key for the European Union to achieve the climate targets it has set on the EU Green Deal agenda, industry representatives and policymakers said today at an EU Green Week partner event organized within the framework of the European Year of Skills by the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), with the support of Huawei.
At the event, titled Green Digital Skills for Sustainable Value Chains: Bridging the Sustainability Skills Gap, numerous voices came together to stress that with climate change and the energy transition on top of the global agenda, the EU is set to lead the race on carbon neutrality, while addressing industrial challenges through new legislative packages such as the Net-Zero Industry Act under the Green Deal Industrial Plan. To this end, they praised the institutions for having rapidly identified the urgency of reskilling and upskilling citizens, as well as of developing new programmes to address the upcoming challenges of the required technological uptake to successfully fast-track the transition to energy efficiency.
Opening the event, Luis Neves, CEO of GeSI, stated that “the green and digital transitions are indeed opening up new opportunities for people and the global economy. However, it will only be through a society equipped with adequate skills that the transition to a green economy will finally take place across the value chain.”
Selina Wen, Huawei’s Vice-President for Public Affairs and Communications in Europe, noted that “the EU has not been derailed by recent challenges: on the contrary, these challenges have helped the EU to accelerate the Green Deal agenda,” and committed to “continue innovating and working hand-in-hand with our European partners to achieve a successful green and digital transition.” Going forward, Huawei will step up its training efforts on green skills for ICT graduates worldwide through its flagship talent development initiative Seeds for the Future, she said, explaining that “sustainability experts will be more and more in demand, and reskilling and upskilling programs will be needed.”
Building upon these reflections, Portuguese Member of European Parliament (MEP) João Albuquerque confirmed that “there needs to be an interconnection between IT and the Green Deal. When we are talking about skills we need to think about why we need them,” adding that “the first aspect to address is access to digital skills training. Social inequalities influence this, from access to social mobility to education. We need to ensure that social inequalities don’t play a role in upskilling.”
At the session on industrial value chains’ readiness to tackle climate change, Dr. Cao Hui, Head of Policy and Strategy at Huawei Europe, said: “Sustainable value chains cannot be achieved without a lifecycle mind-set. Huawei has embedded circular economy in the business model to create a closed-loop value chain. Our goal is to recover as much of the value of scrapped items as possible. At Huawei, every scrapped item is categorized by lifecycle phase and quality. In this way, a scrapped item becomes circular again. At the end of 2021, the reuse rate of Huawei’s returned products was 90.4%.”
Christophe Yvetot, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s Representative to the EU, explained that “in the last 30 years, international trade has contributed a lot to poverty reduction. More than one billion people have been lifted out of poverty thanks to the participation in value chains. The fact that value chains will now benefit from new technologies will give more companies and countries access to international trade.”
Looking ahead, Isabel Yglesias, Permanent Delegate to the EU of CEOE (Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations), acknowledged that “Europe has a training gap, and if it is not addressed, it can damage social cohesion, undermine competitiveness and capacity to attract investments, and may delay the green and digital transitions.” She further stressed that “training is the key element to improve competitiveness and needs to be put at the heart of defining the European open strategic autonomy. There is no open strategic autonomy without a resilient workforce that can support this rebooting of European competitiveness.”
Speaking at a panel on green and digital skills moderated by Giorgia Epicoco, Senior Public Affairs Manager at Huawei Europe, Helene Chraye, Head of the Clean Energy Transition Unit at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, said: “If we want to accelerate the implementation of the Green Deal, we have to accelerate the knowledge – and this cannot only go through universities, it has to go through the industry as well,” calling upon women to be duly included in the training process.
The event was hosted by MEP Dino Giarrusso, who warned that “achieving 32% of renewable energy consumption by 2030 requires an increase in renewable energy generation and a combined deployment of digital solutions to optimize production, distribution, and consumption,” adding that “digital technologies can more efficiently and reliably integrate and manage decentralized renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines.”