Skip to Main Navigation
publicationNovember 30, 2023

Green Data Centers: Towards a Sustainable Digital Transformation

Technician with a laptop checking server in a data center

Countries can make digital infrastructure more environmentally friendly and resilient to impacts of climate change. © Shutterstock

Data infrastructure, including data centers and cloud solutions, is the foundation for critical services, from cell phone networks to the operation of schools, hospitals, and computer systems. The growing digital sector contributes 1.5 to 4 percent of global carbon emissions, while data centers require large amounts of water and land which can put a strain on local resources. 

A joint report by the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Green Data Centers: Towards a Sustainable digital Transformation explores how countries can make digital infrastructure more environmentally friendly and more resilient to the impacts of climate change. 

Key messages:  

Greening data centers is crucial for sustainable digital transformation and supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. By reducing the environmental footprint of data centers, countries can lower emissions and meet sustainability goals. 

As economies become increasingly digitized, the importance of reliable digital infrastructure increases. Addressing climate risks to data centers is important to protect critical infrastructure and ensure uninterrupted access to essential services. 

Governments play a vital role in creating an enabling environment for green data centers through policies, incentives, and regulations. Governments can establish green building standards, incentivize the use of renewable energy sources, regulate the use of refrigerants, and support efficient e-waste management practices. 

This guide targets a wide range of practitioners, from policymakers to data center technicians, offering principles applicable to policymaking, regulation, as well as development, operation, and procurement of data center infrastructure. 

This report was produced with funding support from the Digital Development Partnership (DDP).

The DDP is administered by the World Bank Group. The DDP offers a platform for digital innovation and development financing, bringing public and private sector partners together to advance digital solutions and drive digital transformation in developing countries. Find out more: