19 November, 2020

Delivering A Green And Digital Recovery Through Connectivity

Summary & main takeaways

Lise Fuhr, ETNO Director General pointed that there can be no green transition without digitalisation, while digitalisation cannot happen unless it is green. She also highlighted that companies are striving to eliminate their own carbon footprint, but also working to enable their clients to do the same. This is why telcos ecological challenge is so important: it is not just about their green transition, but about making wider ecosystems more sustainable.

The sustainability heads of Telefónica, TDC, and Telia Company all stressed that the green transition requires a whole-of-ecosystem approach: telecoms companies are taking action to become more sustainable, and helping their clients and industries to do so as well. But we also need Top-down policy directions (e.g. on sustainable finance) and circularity has to be built in across the supply chain.

The three ETNO representatives emphasized the telecom sector’s enabling potential, giving concrete examples on how they are supporting the decarbonisation of other sectors.

Ms. Felicia Stanescu insisted that both climate (37%) and digital (20%) spending targets are conditions for member states to receive Recovery and Resilience Facility (RFF) funding. Ms. Stanescu echoed that digital technology can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors – while at the same time, technology needs to make its own transition. To make this a reality, she underlined two points, collaboration and reform:

  • On collaboration: some of the recovery projects are large-scale, so cannot be undertaken by national governments alone and in silos. The Commission has identified seven flagships in which it makes sense to pool resources among Member States (three for digital and four for green).
  • On reform: the RRF is not there just to support investment, but to support deeper reform, in a mix that is complimentary and mutually reinforcing.

MEP Pislaru (Renew Europe) and MEP Casares (S&D) provided the political angle on the matter. Parliament is pushing for a 40% minimum allocation for green projects in the RRF (rather than the 37% proposed by the Commission). To face the global climate crisis, it is not enough to focus on incremental add-ons: humanity needs to shift how we live. On digital, MEP Pislaru stressed the importance of digital citizenship, rather than discussing merely around digital services.

The two MEPs pointed out the indispensable aspect of connectivity: in a world of competition in trade, being disconnected can have serious consequences. Therefore, closing the digital gap must be a priority. MEP Casares cited Spain’s national RRF plan which will go beyond the 20% digital target with aim for a 33% allocation (for example in building rural connectivity).


  • Best business practice sharing session
    • Maya Ormazabal, Head of Environment and Climate Change at Telefonica;
    • Emilie Wedell-Wedellsborg, Director of Sustainability at TDC Group;
    • Sarah Nordbrand, Head of Sustainability at Telia Company.
  • Panel discussion: sustainable recovery through connectivity
    • Ms Felicia Stanescu, Head of Unit RECOVER.B2 responsible for Digital, Single Market, Industry;
    • MEP Dragos Pislaru, co-rapporteur of Recovery and Resilience Facility (Renew Europe);
    • MEP Nicolás González Casares (S&D)

The video recording of the event is avilable below:

Delivering a Green and Digital Recovery through Connectivity from ETNO on Vimeo.

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