(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) UN Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8) will be adapting an environmental friendly system to reduce the use of papers during the conference, which will be starting officially on Monday. Paper weighs heavily on the environment, and the UN is working to dramatically reduce the number of documents it uses as it strives to set an example for sustainable working.
To this end, it has developed PaperSmart, an innovative system that means that thousands, not millions, of pieces of paper are printed in its offices and at its conference. Magnus Olafsson, director of the meetings and publications division of the UN, said: "The pulp and paper industry is one of the dirtiest ever. It is actually very polluting and very few people realize this." "It is one of the most polluting industries in the world, ranking second or third depending on what toxic materials you are taking into account," he added.
As if this wasn't bad enough, Olafsson said that two-thirds of the pollutants produced while making paper end up being jettisoned into the air, and most of the rest ends up in the water system. The two main methods of the production of paper - chemical and mechanical - are both harmful to the environment, but for different reasons.
The chemical process uses vast amounts of water, so much so that a normal pack of 500 sheets of office paper requires 150 liters of water to produce. The mechanical method uses far less water " about 30 liters " but a lot more energy. He pointed out that, in terms of weight, the amount of paper produced in 2011 was three times heavier than all the cars made by every manufacturer the world.
Even recycling paper has a negative impact on the planet, because the process requires about the same amount of energy as making paper from scratch, and chemicals are required to clean the used material. To set an example to the world, as well as to cut costs and waste, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, issued a directive for the UN to become a paperless organization by 2015.
The cornerstone of this policy is PaperSmart, which was developed by Olafsson and his team in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The scheme, which is already in use at the UN headquarters in New York, allows people to manage their own use of paper resources by printing only the documents that they need through an easy-to-use web portal. "We have turned things upside down," Olafsson said.
"We do not give paper copies unless someone asks." COP18/CMP8 will be the first UN Climate Change Conference to use the system, and the PaperSmart team is confident that the 17,000 participants will embrace the initiative with enthusiasm. The system is agenda-based, so delegates can click on a particular agenda item and print only the information related to that item.
They can click a "print on demand" button and someone will bring a copy to their desk. For visually impaired people, the portal has been designed to use computer programs that convert text into the spoken word. PaperSmart also gives access to last year's meetings to allow people to look up the agendas, video files and press releases to prepare for their current meeting.
The PaperSmart portal will be available on the UNFCCC website and the COP18/CMP8 website and smartphone app. In previous conferences, delegations from each of the 194 participating countries would make 350 copies of their ministerial speeches to hand out.
In Doha, as soon as a minister starts speaking, the statements will be made available to everyone - press, public and civil servants back in relevant capital cities " on the PaperSmart portal. "It is natural, in particular for a conference of this nature, that we show some sense of responsibility when it comes to sustainability and paper usage," Olafsson said.