According to Bloomberg, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has devised a global mission to make the global Conference of the Parties (COP) paperless by 2015. This year's objective was to reduce paper used by the meeting to three million sheets, as opposed to an estimated five million in past years.
Hundreds of trees were saved this year due to a "Paper Smart" document imaging system that has already been implemented into the New York United Nations headquarters, AME Info reported. The new system allowed attendees to access and alter the documents online, although representatives still have the option to print copies at counters throughout the conference. As a result, discussions are also more accessible to the public since members of the press can view these digital copies.
All conference attendees are guaranteed easy access to the information since applications for smartphones and tablets were developed to further support the environmental objectives of the system, according to AME info.
The transition has been a gradual one, though, as some nations and envoys can't adapt as easily to digital technologies. The lead representative for the European Commission, Artur Runge-Metzger, told Bloomberg that he is hopeful that people will eventually get used to the new system.
"You want to get to the point where you only have those documents electronically," he said.
Bloomberg communicated that when negotiators arrived to the conference this year, a computer screen showed 1,938,283 sheets of paper and 231 trees had been saved. This is an impressive 92 percent reduction from the same point of last year's meeting in South Africa.
Paper Smart stations have had more than just environmental benefits: According to AME info, approximately 70 jobs were created as a result of the initiative for personnel who will be authorizing and assisting access to the program.
The United Nations' efforts to reduce paper waste has been a success so far and has the potential to increase awareness of document digitization and its many advantages.
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