Ensuring sustainability in the future of 6G: insights from the 2023 EuCNC & 6G Summit

On 6-9 June, the European community engaged in wireless communications and networking technologies, gathered in Gothenburg, Sweden for the 2023 edition of European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC) and 6G Summit, with Digital for Planet taking an active role in the event. 

The event brought together over 800 researchers, industry professionals, and policymakers to discuss the latest advancements, challenges, and future directions in wireless communications and networking technologies. 
The key focus area of the conference was 6G and its role for a twin green and digital transition. Experts from academia, industry and European institutions presented their research and insights into the potential of 6G to achieve a more sustainable society.


The EuCNC conference served as a rich source of knowledge and dialogue, leading to several significant outcomes:

  • Sustainability by design: Sustainability shall be the key driver of 6G research and development. Moreover, as highlighted by Pearse O’Donohue, Director, Future Networks at the European Commission’s DG CONNECT & Conference General Co-Chair, future 6G technologies should align with European values of being human-centric, sustainable, and safe. Sustainability practices in network design and deployment ware also emphasised by the Programme Officer of the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU), Chiara Mazzone while advocating for the European Commission priorities for 6G. 
  • Sustainable 6G and 6G for sustainability: 6G has a great potential to support the achievement of the European Green Deal and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, enabling the sustainability journey of other sectors and verticals. On one hand, it involves addressing the first-order effect of the network, meaning the direct environmental impacts of the network manufacturing and operation, such as energy consumption, CO2 emission and resource usage. On the other hand, it focuses on how 6G networks can drive sustainability improvements – the second-order effect -, like increased industry efficiency and a shift towards virtual meetings. However, we must also consider potential rebound effects, where enhanced network functionality may lead to increased energy consumption.
  • Societal and environmental sustainability should be prioritised by developing 6G services that meet societal needs and demands besides the usual performance-driven perspective. To this purpose, Key Value Indicators (KVIs) represent a suitable framework to monitor and validate the impact of 6G technologies on key societal and environmental values.
  • Common standards: a consistent methodological framework is needed to assess the direct and indirect effects of 6G technologies, as well as to explore the integration of sustainability and KVIs into future 6G standards. The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), as well as several projects and working groups are currently working on defining a standardised approach for the usage scenarios for 6G, e.g., ITU-T L.1480, ITU-T L.1470, ITU-T L410, etc.

Framing the first-hand insights from the sustainability researchers and innovators: the “Tech & Sustainability Pills” video series

To record first-hand insights from the researchers, innovators, policymakers and stakeholders committed to advance sustainable digital innovation, during EuCNC, Digital for Planet launched a new video series entitled “Tech & Sustainability Pills” which showcase the highlights from the most anticipated ICT events of the year. 

Watch the first two episodes recorded at EuCNC with Alessandro-Vanelli Coralli, Professor at the University of Bologna and Project Coordinator of 6G-NTN, and Pernilla Bergmark, Principal researcher for ICT sustainability impacts at Ericsson.


Tech & Sustainability Pills│EuCNC 2023│Prof. Alessandro-Vanelli Coralli

Tech & Sustainability Pills│EuCNC 2023│Pernilla Bergmark

In conclusion, 2023 EuCNC & 6G Summit provided provided valuable insights into the future of 6G networks and the importance of ensuring sustainability. It represented an opportunity to meet and engage with the mobile communication research community in action, focusing on sustainability and 6G societal requirements. We look forward for the next edition in Antwerp!