Achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals with digitization

In 2015 the United Nations in their Sustainable Development Summit set out an initiative of 17 goals that is directly to target and fight poverty, inequality and injustice while also tackling climate change. These are known as UN Sustainable development Goals (SDG) – commonly known as UN SDG’s – set to be achieved by 2030.

The UN SDGs are a set of broad ranged and interconnected objectives that aim to deal with economic, social, and environmental problems around us. Addressing our world’s biggest challenges, the aim is to achieve these goals via collaborative and collective efforts and cross-sector/multi-sector global partnerships.

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Role of Digitization

A sector that is considered to play a vital and crucial role in helping to achieve these goals is the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. The UN agrees and acknowledges the role of ICT and has mentioned how emerging and communication-based technologies have a great potential to accelerate the progress and help to bridge the digital divide of knowledge in our global society.

The key factor for all goals to be achieved lies in the process of digitization and transformation of our process to achieve the goals. The Chief Digital Officer at Schneider Electric, Peter Weckesser, has mentioned in one of interviews that – ‘most sustainability challenges are inherently complex. They demand new thinking, actionable insights, scalable solutions, and expert partnership to drive change at a systemic level. This is where digitalization becomes an imperative’.

Success lies in knowing how ICT can help to accelerate the action on the SDGs. Let’s understand with few SDGs as examples on how digitalization and transformation can lead to achievement of goals:

SDG 1: No Poverty

The first of the UN SDG talks about ending poverty in all its forms existing and possible. Digitization can offer timely and accurate information sharing services along with improving the productivity for millions of people offering them a better means of income and livelihood.

It helps to promote financial inclusion by offering and enabling services like mobile banking, micro-crediting and giving small producers, businesses an opportunity and access to various market segments to sell their products.

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SDG 2: Zero hunger

The second SDG focus is to achieve food security along with encouraging sustainable agriculture practices. Not only this makes it possible to end world hunger, but also to target the not so productive and damaging practices in agriculture that are only short-term focused.

Digitization can help farmers to gain direct access to market information, weather forecasts, storage solutions, logistics, how to restore the soil and reduce waste along with an improvement in their overall productivity.

At a global scale, data collection and analytics of soil value, quality, and rate of production in states/ countries, how much food is stored as deposits, how much is needed by one end of the world and how agriculture practices can help solve hunger issues across countries.

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

The third SDG has its aim on ensuring healthy lifestyles for the global population that are promoting well-being. A digital transformation of the global medical sector/ health care sector can completely overhaul the way in which healthcare is made available to us today.

A connected world with digital technologies can create a global healthcare structure that allows health care workers to be always connected with the latest information and diagnostic services. AI in healthcare can drastically transform the way many procedures are done and possibly make them more successful for the vast majority. Data analytics from past, present can lead to prevention of many diseases and help in projecting about patient health.

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SDG 4: Quality Education

This SDG is about providing inclusive, equal, and quality education to all. In a digitally connected world students can access more learning resources and unlock more education opportunities anytime, even in the most remote locations and low-income areas.

Digitization helps the teachers to be better prepared for classes that can be led remotely from anywhere. The UN states how an improvement in education opportunities can lead to overall improvement in economic opportunities.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 5 exists to ensure equal opportunities for all, especially  making sure that women and young girls are empowered.

When there is connectivity to the internet that itself opens a world of opportunities – girls and women have access to information and resources to learn, grow and thrive. Digit access in itself here becomes a strong reason for transformation for their lives. Lives that can have access to better education, vital information, training, skills upgradation and employment opportunities.

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SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 6 aims to see how a digitally connected world can help to ensure, first the availability and second the sustainable management of water to the global population along with hygienic sanitation facilities.

A number of green-tech start-ups are emerging and working with smart water management capabilities. ICT makes smart water management a possibility. In this context digitalization helps in building the required infrastructure for the services needed and the start-ups that are offering quality, efficient and low-cost models of maintenance with optimized operations.

While there are still many more SDGs to go through, this context gives us a clear idea on how each global issue can be tackled with the help of a digital world. The rising number of start-ups working in the Greentech sector and the global giants working towards UN SDGs is a great start to climb a high mountain with many terrains.

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We will soon come back with more on the UN SDG’s and how a digital world can help achieve these.

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