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Embracing ICT for a brighter future

Luis Neves | September 16, 2016

On 14 September, GeSI participated in a plenary session on ICT solutions for the 21st Century Challenges on the opening day of the Humboldt University annual CSR Conference.

This year the event, now in its 7th edition, was dedicated to the theme of CSR in an age of digitization. This was a great opportunity to discuss the current challenges we are facing, and, most importantly, the solutions.

GeSI's work over the last years has explored in detail what type of solutions ICT can offer. The SMART series has shown increasingly promising data on the contribution that our technologies can offer in the transition to a sustainable economy.

The #SMARTer2030 report, released in 2015, extends our outlook to 2030 and examines ICT-enabled sustainability from a holistic point of view, expanding focus from the purely environmental perspective to the social and economic dimensions. Thus, it demonstrates how ICT is good for growth (an assessment of eight economic sectors shows that it could generate over 6 trillion USD in new revenues in 2030), and the tremendous impact that connecting 2.5 billion previously unconnected people can have on the quality their lives (think of opportunities such as access to e-learning and e-health). 

This vision aligns with the triple development agenda of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): people’s quality of life, equitable growth, and environment protection. The GeSI #SystemTransformation report, released in June of this year, analyzes how digital solutions can contribute to the SDGs and help people living dignified lives: we found out that digital solutions contribute to achieving all the 17 SDGs, and over 50% of the related 169 targets.

Technology is no longer a mere business enabler, but a driver of market disruption and creation with the potential to quickly deliver profound environmental, economic and social benefits. Our panel in Berlin discussed the current challenges, such as privacy-related concerns, that need to be addressed in order not to miss the opportunities of ICT. Technology is a tool, and as such we need to be educated to use it to its full potential.  This awareness-raising effort must include policymakers, especially at a time where countries are starting to ratify the Paris Agreement and to develop national implementation plans.

ICT needs to be one of the prominent tools to tackle climate change, including through investment plans e.g. in broadband infrastructure. We all have a part to play in making the digital revolution happen, and we all have great opportunities to take from it. 

To learn more about what you can do to make the digital revolution a reality, check the SMARTer2030 playbooks for consumers, industry and policymakers.

To read the post of co-panelist Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson and Director of Communications and Outreach, please click here.

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