Tech offers way forward to achieving sustainable development goals
Wednesday, 08 July 2020
Representatives from OECD, EIT, UNESCO, Huawei, and CTO were part of the panel.
World and business leaders must seize the watershed moment brought on by the pandemic to harness the power of technology to achieve global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a webinar hosted by The Brussels Times, and moderated by Dan Sobovitz and Pauline Bock, five digital experts agreed that leaders needed to seize on the potential of technology to boost efforts by countries’ to achieve the UN’s 17 SDGs by the 2030 deadline.
“We now realise that technology is a transformative enabler for every sector of society — and therefore all SDGs,” Dorothy Gordon, UNESCO Chair of the Information For All Programme (IFAP) said. “There is no SDG that can be achieved without the support of technology.”
Adopted in 2015, the SDGs are a set of 17 commitments by all UN member countries to overcome substantial challenges, such eradicating world poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality or adopting ambitious policies to fight the effects of climate change.
Panellists agreed that, as the pandemic brought to light persistent inequalities in both developed and developing countries, more intense cooperation between governments and corporate leaders was needed to overcome differences and bridge persistent divides.
Ethel Tan, Tech Policy Advisor at the OECD, said that the pandemic had given an unprecedented boost to connectivity and digitalisation, but that a lot of work still needed to be done at both a local and global level.
As lockdowns across the world moved businesses and learning online, IT providers raced to ensure quality access to online services while governments scrambled to smooth out persistent social inequalities as they translated into the digital arena.
“The past few months have really shown us that we don’t have an equitable situation when it comes to access to digital technologies,” Gordon said. “And yet, digital technologies can make such a difference in people’s lives.”
For this, panellists said that international cooperation between a multiplicity of stakeholders was more crucial than ever, in order to overcome global challenges.
“Geopolitical conflicts are challenging global collaboration,” Abraham Liu, Chief Representative to the EU Institutions at Huawei, highlighted. “To address global challenges, we need to come together.”
“All international organisations need to work together as one community to cater for the entire global population of 6.5 billion,” he added.
IT and broadband connectivity are “key areas” on which to focus to bring measurable progress to areas ranging from cybersecurity and education to disaster management and climate change, Anusha Rahman Khan, East and South Asia Advisor at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisations and former ICT minister of Pakistan said.
And as countries continue adjusting to the novel realities brought on by the pandemic, governments need to double down on rolling out policies capable of harnessing the power of digital technologies while also keeping its inherent risks at bay, Márton Herczeg, Head of Strategy & Impact at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, emphasised.