The UN Sustainable Development Goals, which were ratified by 193 countries in September 2015, are a roadmap to help governments, companies, nonprofits and citizens around the world work together to improve people’s quality of life, boost equitable economic growth and protect the environment. The objective is to transform the way we live and work by 2030, and create a blueprint for a better future for all. Yet at present, substantial gaps exist all over the world in progress towards achieving those goals.
Verizon is one of four sponsors of a new report from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) which looks specifically at how digital transformation has a critical role to play in closing the SDG achievement gap.
In the world’s least developed countries, one of every three boys and girls fails to complete primary school.
The SDGs have been set in place to fix some pretty fundamental global problems:
- Current growth is unsustainable: By mid-August each year, humanity has already consumed the amount of resources the Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. At the same time, global economies will be wasting an estimated $4.5 trillion worth of material value in 2030 by failing to recycle or recover valuable resources in their supply chains.
- The world is heading towards dangerous average global temperature rises: Even if all the national commitments in the Paris COP21 agreement were met, the world would still be on course for an average 2.7°C temperature rise, well above the desired limit of 1.5°C, and resulting in more natural disasters, forcing hundreds of millions of people to leave their homes.
- Social progress is too slow for too many people: Take education, for example. Fifty-nine million children do not go to school at all. And in the world’s least developed countries, one of every three boys and girls fails to complete primary school. In developing regions, one in ten people cannot read or write, and in developed regions, one in six people leave school without secondary qualifications.
In short, things need to change. And this is where digital solutions and the Information Communications Technology sector come in.
The GeSI report shows that digital solutions can help to close the SDG achievement gap, as they have the potential to make a huge and measurably positive impact on each of the three interrelated dimensions of development covered by the SDGs as outlined above. Just some of the 2030 digital impacts could be:
- 720,000 human lives saved from road accidents by connected cars
- 1.6 million people gaining access to healthcare through e-health services
- 1.7 gigatons of CO2e cut from global emissions per year
The report also estimates that the digital solutions that catalyze SDG achievement could create over $9 trillion of new economic benefits for industries, Governments and consumers per year in 2030. But the digital revolution will not happen by itself. And this is where the efforts of all must come to bear – and Verizon is no exception.
Verizon’s very clear on the potential of digital transformation to impact its own business, and that of its customers. We think that digital solutions enable new ecosystems, make new business models possible, and open up new ways to interact and engage with customers. Technologies such as mobile, cloud, the Internet of Things, big data analytics, virtual reality and advanced communications are already changing our world. For example:
- Our partnerships with AMC Health and Children’s National Medical Center are improving people’s lives in the US and abroad
- Verizon Innovative Learning is preparing the next generation for academic and career success
- Grid Wide is helping utilities manage energy and water
- Our Smart Communities solutions are helping create sustainable and smart cities
- Networkfleet helps our customers save time, money and emissions
But we also believe that we have a duty to ensure that we are using these technologies to make the world a better place. Our approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability is also well documented, as these commitments are the foundations of our business. Every day, we connect people, grow businesses and economies, and improve communities. We believe that through our powerful technology we can help transform any industry, leave a positive impact on our communities and create new possibilities — for our customers and our world.
As the GeSI report states, the transformation envisioned by the UN SDGs is nothing short of a revolution in the way we live our lives. If the goals are all achieved, life will be unbelievably better for anyone. We can all do our bit to help.
We’re in. Are you?
* The Women’s Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE) is also supporting the Verizon Stay Connected Competition with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, asking participants from around the world to come up with their own ideas for how technology can help achieve the SDGs. This is open until September 2016.