Panel discussion:can a mobile be green and fair?

MUNICH. "Why green and fair - mobiles should be smart, fast and stylish!" This question was dealt with yesterday evening by more than 70 consumers and representatives from business, politics and society. The discussion was organised by the charitable association UPJ and Telefónica Germany.
Is the term "green mobile" a contradiction? Up until now, consumers have not spent much time thinking about the social and environmental impact of their mobiles. Are they simply unaware of the risks - or is there a lack of sustainable offers?
Claudia Langer, Managing Director of Utopia AG, appeals to companies: "I see many areas where telecommunication providers and mobile phone manufacturers could generate and increase consumers' awareness of sustainability, something which is lacking at the moment. Mobile phones are treasure chests; we simply need to raise these treasures."
Dieter Janecek, Chairman of Alliance 90/The Greens in Bavaria, turned attention to the need for socially and environmentally friendly mobile phones: "It is high time that a debate on ecological and social responsibility in relation to mobile phones was held. Potential risks of cancer caused by mobile communications, mountains of electrical rubbish in Africa and the devastation caused by coltan mining in the Congo are just a few of the issues that highlight the lack of global justice as well as sustainability."
Klaus Milke, Chairman of the Board of Germanwatch e.V. added: "The largest network operators need to act and are being monitored carefully by independent NGOs in order to observe whether they are fulfilling their social and ecological roles as frontrunners and role models. These NGOs also review which aspects are taken into consideration and handled in a transparent manner during the entire lifecycle of a product."
There is definitely a consensus that the telecommunications industry urgently needs to take more responsibility. André Krause, CFO Telefónica Germany, provided information about the company's initial measures: "From a purely mathematical perspective, with more than 20 million customers we reach every fourth citizen in Germany. We are currently at the very beginning of these developments, but we want to make use of this significant lever and empower our customers to act in a sustainable and forward-looking manner. For example, by helping them to make informed purchasing decisions", explained Krause. "With the Eco Index, an assessment system for measuring the sustainability of mobile phones in the O2 online shop, we are providing the required level of transparency."
Michael Bültmann, Managing Director of Nokia GmbH, added: "Having a few cutting-edge, eco-friendly products in its portfolio is not enough for Nokia. We want to ensure that all of our products are sustainable. We therefore focus on recyclable materials and avoid using substances that carry a risk. As we want to provide our consumers with transparency, we create an environmental profile for each one of our products, which can be viewed publicly online." Many participants in the audience stated that providers and manufacturers should provide consumers with more information and help to sensitise them in relation to making sustainable purchases. This opinion was also confirmed by the associated survey on although around 85 percent of those questioned (1,000 participants) took sustainability aspects into consideration when making a purchase, only five percent said the sustainability of mobile phones played a key role in the purchasing decision. 69 percent of the consumers focussed primarily on the functions provided by a device. This discussion will remain open to all interested persons on until 11 July 2011. Additional information on the climate and environment activities of Telefónica Germany can be found in the Corporate Responsibility Report 2010, which can be obtained at
Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG and its brands O2 and Alice belong to Telefónica Europe and are part of the Spanish telecommunication group Telefónica S.A. The Company offers its German private and business customers postpaid and prepaid mobile telecom products as well as innovative mobile data services based on the GPRS and UMTS technologies. In addition, the integrated communications provider also offers DSL fixed network telephony and high-speed internet. According to a network test by "connect" magazine (edition 12/10), the O2 network is top of the list when it comes to reliable file downloads and champion in the telephony category. In the overall result the company is on second position. Telefónica Europe has more than 56 million mobile and fixed network customers in Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany. UPJ is a network of committed businesses and non-profit intermediary organisations in Germany. It focuses on projects that make a contribution towards resolving social problems by creating new links between companies, non-profit organisations and public authorities. The non-profit UPJ e.V. also supports these parties by providing information and advice on the development and implementation of their Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Social Responsibility activities.