5 ways to ensure new technologies are effective for SDGs

  • 26 September 2018
Sunil Bharti Mittal

Global leaders and experts from the public and private sectors came together on opening day of the high-level week of the United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA), this week to highlight real-world thinking on how business and governments can best use new technologies and mobile solutions to meet sustainable development goals.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) joined forces with the mobile operators’ trade association GSMA, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), to host the event, taking place 1,000 days into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Here are four takeaways from the discussions.

  1. To be authentic we must acknowledge the negative narrative around new technologies.

ICC Secretary General John W.H Denton set the scene for discussions saying that while new technology was creating better jobs on aggregate, the world could not pretend that the digital divide did not exist. “If we ignore the challenges they cannot be overcome,” Mr Denton said.

  1. Regulation and policy is playing an important role in intelligent connectivity

Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA highlighted several examples of how new technology was advancing global goals citing examples ranging from long distance surgical interventions by doctors to improve or even save lives to the use of artificial intelligence for effective disaster preparedness including epidemics and climate change.

Mr Granryd stressed the important role of regulation and policy in facilitating deployment of next generation infrastructure, harmonizing privacy and data protection rules and ensuring a level playing field.

Great panel on “big data for better lives through mobile, statistics & insights”

Real time understanding of data in a disaster situation is of paramount importance.@aminatakn Aminata Kane CEO Orange Sierra Leone and @Siggve_telenor CEO of Telenor.

Pushing the message pic.twitter.com/u5fy2Va0cN

— Mats Granryd (@MatsGranryd) September 25, 2018

  1. The power to advance educational goals through mobile connections

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and ICC Honorary Chairman said that today, nearly 5 billion people were uniquely connected to the mobile network, advance goals in areas from education to healthcare. “That’s a powerful computer in the hands of people,” he said. Mr Mittal highlighted how people in remote areas, with limited infrastructure for schools and colleges, were able to access to education themselves via mobile networks.

Mr Mittal urged governments and regulators to focus attention on mobile infrastructure to allow more marginalized people to access finance and participate in the economy.

Honorary Chairman of ICC Sunil Mittal called for “stronger coordination and dialogue between the public and private sectors with reforms in global financial regulation to garner bigger investments for the @UN#SDGs . #UNGA73 https://t.co/ZvxiHGmw6P

— ICC WBO (@iccwbo) September 26, 2018

  1. It’s not about the technology alone…

Kate Wilson of the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) said that while a lot of time was spent focusing on building new apps, the focus should be put on infrastructure, pricing and skills development to unleash the potential of entrepreneurs on the ground in developing economies. “Don’t look at building something, figure out if it already exists,” she said. “The technology is amazing but it is using the technology that is key.”

Co-hosted by @GSMA, @GSMAm4d @iccwbo @ITCnews @UNDESA, I had the opportunity to discuss with global leaders on how businesses and govs. can promote effective & responsible use of #tech and #mobile for #socialgood #SDGs #GlobalGoals #BetterFuture #Tech4Good #UNGA #UNGA73 https://t.co/7rUkXesTNE

— Kate Wilson (@DIAL_Kate) September 24, 2018

  1. The power of partnerships

“Working through a transparent government process is the way to understand the complexity of social transformations,” said Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda. Ms Gallach said that government could not achieve success however without unleashing the power of partnerships.