During this week’s WSIS Forum a special session presented a sneak preview of the much anticipated ‘System Transformation’ report which presents early research and new data on how digital solutions will drive progress towards the sustainable development goals. The full report, produced by GeSI and Accenture in cooperation with ITU, will receive its full global launch in June 2016.
Information and communication technology (ICT) offers practical and transferrable solutions to today’s development issues, and are therefore vital to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The #SystemTransformation Report, a joint investigation by GeSI and Accenture in cooperation with ITU that was previewed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2016, highlights how ICTs could impact the achievement of the SDGs:
- GDP could be boosted by 12% in developing countries if broadband penetration reached 80% in 2030, up from 44.5% in 2014
- By catalyzing SDG achievement, the ICT sector could potentially earn up to USD 2.1 trillion in revenue by 2030
- Carbon emissions could be reduced by 12% from ‘business as usual’ scenario by implementing digital solutions
- Road traffic accidents could be reduced by 60% through smart mobility
However, three key barriers still remain: ‘rules of the game’, such as regulation and policies; ‘supply’, including funding and interoperable standards for implementation; and ‘demand’, such as the digital divide, affordability and local content. Today, 43.4% of the global population is not online and therefore unable to benefit from the transformative power of ICTs.
ITU is working to help push the global development agenda forward through a number of key initiatives to drive ICT adoption. The WSIS Forum, currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland – the first WSIS Forum since the adoption of the SDGs – is the world’s largest gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community. It aims to advance development goals through sharing best practices, multi-stakeholder collaboration and coordination of activities. The Connect 2020 framework outlines a series of international targets for ICT development which act as a roadmap for ITU’s three sectors (radiocommunications, standardization and development).
Only by expanding access to ICTs, ensuring that they are affordable and people have the necessary skills, can we hope to make the sustainable development agenda an achievable reality.
Malcolm Johnson (@ITU_DSG) was elected ITU Deputy Secretary General at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 in Busan, Republic of Korea. Mr. Johnson was elected as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2006 in Antalya, Turkey and was re-elected at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico.