The Catalytic Role of ICTs in the #Post2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

CatalyticRole-BlogIn 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) galvanized global efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people. The development agenda framework outlined 21 measurable targets across eight goals on issues such as poverty, health, environment and gender equality to be achieved over a 15 year timeframe.

As the MDGs reach their conclusion, the UN will build on this successful groundwork to agree a new set of development goals and targets for the post-2015 era at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development. An outcome document was produced by the Open Working Group (OWG) of Member States on Sustainable Development in July 2014, outlining 17 goals and 169 targets as a basis for the September 2015 negotiations.

The integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is vital to the achievement of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not only are ICTs a platform which integrate and accelerate all three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability – but they provide an innovative and effective Means of Implementation (MoI) in today’s inter-connected world. Indeed, ‘The Road to Dignity by 2030’, the UN Secretary-General’s report outlining the call to action to transform our world, puts information technology and the data revolution that it has enabled, at the heart of its analysis. It recognizes the transformational power of today’s technology in ending the enduring cycle of extreme poverty and hunger.

ICTs are key enablers of development. Acknowledging the important contribution that ICTs can make to delivering on the aspirational, transformational and universal targets of the post-2015 framework, they are directly referenced in four targets of the 17 goals outlined in the OWG document:

  • Goal 4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all;
  • Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 9: build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  • Goal 17: strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Goal 17 recognizes ICTs as essential to the effective achievement of all SDG goals and targets. ICTs have an intrinsic value for long-term sustainable development beyond the four targets in the proposed post-2015 development framework as MoI; the development of ICT infrastructures foster national capacity-building capabilities and regional integration, and create an enabling environment required to implement the new sustainable development agenda. Making ICT universally available can deliver important cross-cutting synergies across different sectors. For example, as a means of implementation, clean technologies and energy efficient ICT solutions such as smart grids can deliver real and substantial carbon savings across many other sectors including health, education and transport.

The ICT sector can also contribute to the post-2015 agenda in other ways; operating in a diverse and inclusive multi-stakeholder environment, the ICT sector provides a model for the global partnerships for sustainable development, particularly in developing countries.

In order to achieve the targets set out in the proposed Sustainable Development Agenda, GeSI and ITU call on Rio+20 stakeholders to leverage and upgrade existing ICT infrastructures, and to focus on making this universally available.

MoI as a means to achieving the SDGs will be discussed in depth during the ‘Means of Implementation and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development’ Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations from 20 – 24 April 2015.  GeSI and ITU have jointly organized a side event on ‘Means of Implementation and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development – the Role of ICTs’ on 21 April to discuss how the transformative role of ICTs could be reinforced in the post 2015 process, especially with regards to Goal 17, and how partnership models implemented by the ICT sector can enhance cooperation for sustainable development in the post-2015 era.

For more information on the side event and how to register, please contact:

Gary-FowlieGary Fowlie is the Head of the ITU Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York, where he actively promotes ICTs as a tool of empowerment and development.




  1. Reblogged this on Communication For Development and commented:
    Role of ICTs in Sustainable Development

  2. Reblogged this on Richard Cheeseman's blog and commented:
    This post from the ITU picks up on an important theme of the post-2015 era and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You might ask “what have information communications technologies got to do with sustainability?” Well, they are a vital enabler of sustainable health services, for example, and can be used in numerous ways to help people in poor and remote areas access health advice and care. mHealth via moibile phone services is a growing force in countries such as Kenya, where Safaricom is using its Jamii Smart alerts product to send alerts and reminders to mothers and health workers regarding clinic visits, expected delivery dates, immunisation schedules and other information (Source: Saving Lives Protecting Futures. Progress Report on the
    Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, Every Women Every Child, March 20150.

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