Technology has been central to development throughout the course of human history. The rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across the world proves this fundamental connection on an unprecedented scale – and with revolutionary impact.
Today, it could be said that all development is linked to digital development: from education to transportation, urban planning, sanitation, health, manufacturing, industry and, of course, communication, there is no industrial sector today that does not rely on ICTs as the essential backbone infrastructure providing access to services – and the associated benefits of social and economic development.
At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialized United Nations agency for ICTs, one of the priorities is to ensure that those benefits are made available to all of the world’s population, not just a limited few. ITU is committed to connecting all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their means. And connectivity, and the ICT services, products and solutions it enables, is essential to meeting every one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
But how can we accelerate universal connectivity and the development it brings when nearly half of the people in the world remain offline?
The ICT sector is working with us towards an ambitious long-term goal of connecting the next 1.5 billion citizens by 2020. This will require not only enormous investment in networks and other infrastructure, but also – crucially – significant political commitment.
Infrastructure alone, however, is not enough. According to ITU, around 90% of the world’s population is covered by at least 2G or 3G services – yet adoption remains at barely 51%. So for connectivity to be meaningful, to actually reach people and change lives, affordable, fit-for-purpose services and equipment are needed, as well as local content in local languages, relevant to local context. And programmes to raise awareness of the benefits of connectivity, as well as to teach the digital skills essential to taking full advantage of this potential.
Digital literacy is just as important for meaningful connectivity as cheap handsets or 3G networks in rural and remote areas. Innovation and inclusivity are as vital as infrastructure and investment.
It’s clear that neither public nor private sector can go it alone. The task of connecting the whole world is as enormous as the developmental benefits it will bring. The leadership, resources and skills required are as great as the impact it will have. Government must work closely with the private sector, with all stakeholders throughout the digital ecosystem, with NGOs and international organizations, with civic society, communities, academia and media.
Public private partnerships, in whatever form, are the key to driving meaningful connectivity and bringing the world online. This is where ITU’s leading annual event, ITU Telecom World, has such an important role to play. By bringing together leaders from government, industry, regulatory bodies, international agencies, consultants and academia from developed and emerging markets alike, the event works towards meeting the SDGs through digital technology, focusing efforts on infrastructure, investment, innovation and inclusivity.
It features an international exhibition of tech solutions and projects, a world-class forum of interactive, expert-led debates, an Awards Programme, and a networking programme connecting organizations, nations, individuals and ideas.
The ITU Telecom World Awards Programme, in particular, is an opportunity to encounter, engage with and celebrate the best in innovative tech solutions with very real social impact.
The international visibility, UN credibility and access to networking, investment potential and partnerships offered by the Awards has proved highly valuable since the programme’s introduction in 2015 – and is an excellent stage for precisely those public-private collaborations so essential to growing connectivity.
Additionally, the event provides a powerful stage for exhibiting the projects, technologies and ideas that are driving development at local, national and international levels on the showfloor, as well as attending the Forum debates on “Innovating together: connectivity that matters” to learn, network and share knowledge.
Held this year in HungExpo, Budapest, Hungary, from 9 – 12 September, ITU Telecom World 2019 is only one small step towards connecting the world. Every step counts, however, on the journey to accelerate development throughout the world through technology. And together, we can make those steps larger, longer and more effective.
Horyou is a media partner of ITU Telecom World 2019
There’s no doubt of the importance of high-speed internet connectivity to economic and social development. As consumers, workers, entrepreneurs or merely citizens, we all benefit from its applications, products and the systems it enables.
Indeed, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ’s core mandate is connecting the unconnected – which means bringing the digitally disenfranchised of the world online, often those in remote and rural regions, in developing countries and from underrepresented groups such as women, older people, or the disabled.
Given that some 90% of the world’s population is already able to access at least 2G or 3G mobile data services, why is internet access stuck at just above 51%? What are the stumbling blocks to seeing the benefits of the digital age reaching more and more people across the globe?
The simple answer is that connectivity alone is not enough.
This is not to disregard the enormous difficulties in terms of investment costs and infrastructure deployment in what are often challenging topographies, with scattered populations, little or no access to reliable energy sources and markets that render current business models economically inviable.
These are real barriers to access, which require enormous creativity and innovation to overcome. But to really make a difference, connectivity needs to be supported by access to affordable devices, government awareness initiatives, digital literacy programmes, solutions and applications which are relevant to the local context and daily lives of new users.
Making connectivity meaningful is a whole new set of challenges – one that ITU Telecom World 2019 is happy to face head on. The leading tech event for governments, big industry players and SMEs, ITU Telecom World is organized each year by ITU, the UN’s principal agency for information and communication technologies. Taking place this year from 9 – 12 September in Budapest, Hungary, on the theme of “Innovating together: connectivity that matters”, the event will host a forum of expert-led critical debates addressing how we can collaborate across sectors and international boundaries to ensure the digital economy is not just accessible, but relevant, equitable and safe for all.
What new partnerships, regulatory approaches, government initiatives or industry models can impact on increasing meaningful connectivity? Can we create a culture of responsible innovation aimed at improving lives everywhere? How can the public sector, international organizations and industry bodies work together to mitigate digital exclusion?
These are questions which go to the very heart of the digital society in which many of us already live – and which is expanding exponentially, risking a further deepening of the divide between the connected and the unconnected.
Technological developments are crucial to increasing meaningful connectivity and bridging the divide. These include the range of new players, applications, and use cases in the world of satellites, such as small satellites, LEOs, HAPS and non-GSO constellations, with the potential to open up global, affordable access and new services.
Then there’s the growth of 5G as the key enabler of tomorrow’s digital economy, linking smartphones and wireless sensors, powering smart sustainable cities and the fourth industrial revolution. Its unprecedented potential is so great that many 5G services and applications are yet to be discovered, created or understood. But where do we really stand on 5G deployment, what policies and frameworks do we need to accelerate its implementation, and what should the role of government and private sectors be? Is 5G a springboard to the digital society in developing markets, can it be used to meet basic human needs as well as commercial and industrial ends, or will it increase that divide?
The same questions apply to the future of broadband and the rapid expansion of machine learning and AI. How can we capitalize on the potential of AI to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity – and not leave anyone behind?
Ensuring connectivity is equitable means establishing the digital principles and values of our increasingly digital future. As machine learning and AI develop, so too does the risk of replicating the biases of the limited few inputting the data behind those powerful algorithms – with potential dramatic ramifications for individuals across, for example, the justice system, employment and financial sectors.
Dismantling the barriers of disability with technology, creating better accessibility and access to services is critical to inclusion.
Consumers need to be educated and informed on the importance of data management, from those in developed markets all too happy to trade their privacy for the convenience of connected devices in the home, to the new consumers coming on line in developing markets potentially unaware of the dangers of cyberspace.
Digital skills, from basic computer literacy to data scientists, must be a government imperative in the digital age. Connectivity without digital literacy is, after all, like a bicycle without wheels – a great idea in principle, but going nowhere.
Sharing ideas, experiences, case studies and good practice is essential – as are public private partnerships, cross sector partnerships, international partnerships. Making connectivity meaningful is too big a task for any single player. ITU Telecom World 2019 will bring answers to some of these questions, lay the groundwork for potential partnerships – and provide inspiration for shaping a digital future that is accessible, relevant and beneficial for us all.
Eight years ago, the Fukushima nuclear disaster left an unimaginable trail of destruction in Japan and with a raging controversy over its nuclear energy on which it is highly dependent. Owing to the closure of many plants, the country significantly increased its energy imports and started to face the uncomfortable situation of being too dependent on fossil fuels coming from overseas. As the prices of energy soared and investments in renewable energy took a slow pace, the government started to set up a strategy for sustainable energy.
If there is ever a positive outcome from disasters, the Fukushima case which has resulted in the development of a plan to attract new, clean and secure alternative sources to Japan, stands as a good example. A year ago, still suffering from the consequences of the nuclear accident, the Japanese government announced a Strategic Energy Plan which set the goal to increase self-sufficient energy rate from 8% in 2016 to 24% in 2030.
With this plan, renewable energy will be pivotal. Knowing that the Paris Agreement commitments made by Japan limit the consumption of fossil fuels, the government will support other renewable sources, along with energy-saving programs, including solar and wind power. Large scale solar is still costly and unstable and the government is pushing for more technological innovation to turn it into a feasible alternative. Wind power is less expensive, but is not ideal in some regions of Japan, as the windiest regions are far away from the most energy-consuming territories, which would require the building of transmission lines and storage batteries.
While Japan invests in more sustainable options, fossil fuels and nuclear plants will still be part of the country’s energy mix. However, the plan stated that the government will promote efficiency and new generation power plants to minimize the environmental load in the long-run. The energy market was liberalized in 2016, when the government wanted to implement reforms that would not only enable better integration of renewable power generation but also an effective supply and demand ratio.
The next phase of the plan will take place in 2020 – power sector reforms and regulation will be implemented to make the energy market more open, competitive and supportive of renewable energy companies.
SIGEF 2019 will take place in Tokyo on 18-19 September.
A Free Webinar Promoted by the Space Agency Tracks Land Degradation and Urban Development
What if we could see from space the damages our human race has done to Earth? The dream to be an astronaut that many of us who have grown during the space race have had might be impossible, but the one to have a privileged view of our changing planet is not. Committed to raising awareness of the SDGs 11 and 15 and bridging the gap between science and society, NASA Earth Observations organizes a webinar that helps to track land degradation and urban development to meet SDG targets.
Both SDGs 11 and 15 relate to sustainable urbanization and land use and cover change. SDG 11 aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” SDG 15 aims to “combat desertification, drought, and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation neutral world.” To assess progress towards these goals, participants in the webinar learn to produce maps and figures to support monitoring and reporting on land degradation and urbanization.
Horyou Blog interviewed Brock Blevins, the training coordinator for the NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET).
When and why did you decide to launch the training program?
NASA’s Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET) was established in 2008 within NASA’s Applied Sciences Program (ASP) to help bridge the gap between NASA earth science and decision-makers through targeted training activities. It is also a component of the capacity-building program within ASP. ARSET’s main goal is to provide online and in-person training on NASA data access and its application to air quality, disasters, health, land, water, and wildfire management. In 2017, the program added training on monitoring requirements for the United Nations sustainable development goals. In 2018, the program provided 17 trainings for 6362 participants representing 141 countries, 2570 organizations, and 52 US states/territories.
What is your target public?
This training will be appropriate for local, regional, state, federal, and international organizations interested in generating data used for SDG reporting with satellite imagery.
What are the expected results of the training in terms of awareness?
This training, developed in partnership with Conservation International, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and UN Habitat is designed to increase awareness within the global community of the open, spatial data resources and tools available to help reach the SDG Goals of Agenda 2030. In particular, we wish to make policy and decision makers familiar with SDG Indicators 15.3.1 and 11.3.1, understand the basics on how to compute indicators of SDG 15.3.1 such as: productivity, land cover, and soil carbon in support of country reporting needs and to understand how to use the Trends Earth Urban Mapper web interface.
Is it a paid course? If yes, how much does it cost?
No cost. As all NASA data is open and free, so are ARSET trainings
Course Dates: Tuesdays, July 9, 16, and 23, 2019.
10:00-11:30 EDT (UTC-4) English
18:00-19:30 EDT (UTC-4) Spanish
Registration Information: https://go.nasa.gov/2VEXipf
2030 é o prazo para todos os países do mundo implementarem os 17 Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (ODS) da ONU. Isso quer dizer que os países têm pouco mais de dez anos para atingirem essas metas e, consequentemente, dar mais alguns passos rumo a um planeta mais justo e mais sustentável.
Mas não são só os líderes políticos que precisam assumir esse desafio. Isso está também em nossas obrigações de cidadão. E mais do que isso, não basta ter empatia com os Objetivos, é preciso buscar alcançar essa mudança. Incluem nessa lista de responsáveis as empresas e seu comprometimento com o crescimento sustentável. Trata-se de uma tendência global: além da responsabilidade social, a sustentabilidade deve estar entre os objetivos do negócio.
A boa notícia é que muitas empresas, de segmentos distintos, já estão colocando em prática políticas baseadas nos ODS. Apresento aqui alguns exemplos.
A Cabify neutraliza as emissões de carbono. Isso quer dizer que, a empresa mede suas emissões de dióxido de carbono e as compensa financiando projetos que recompõem a mesma quantidade do gás na atmosfera. A iniciativa busca ajudar a proteger milhões de árvores, combatendo também o aquecimento global e preservando a biodiversidade.
Uma das maiores companhias do mercado de bebidas do Brasil, a Ambev, oferece uma Aceleradora para empreendedores com soluções ambientais. Através dessa plataforma, desafios de ideias e tecnologias com objetivos sustentáveis serão solucionados. A Aceleradora está presente em todos os países onde a companhia atua. O projeto busca reunir ações de impacto positivo para além dos muros da cervejaria, que buscam construir um legado sustentável para a sociedade e o meio ambiente.
Na Hi Technologies, o planejamento e o plano de negócios foram desenhados com base no 3º Objetivo: Assegurar uma vida saudável e promover o bem-estar para todos, em todas as idades. A startup, através do uso de tecnologia e inteligência artificial, busca oferecer acesso à saúde para todas as pessoas, independente de sua localização ou condição social, através do Hilab, laboratório portátil, qualquer um pode fazer um exame clínico com um preço muito baixo.
Portanto, finalizo aqui dizendo que não importa a atuação ou o setor. No final do dia o que precisamos entender é que é necessário se preocupar um pouco mais e de que a sustentabilidade é uma necessidade nas empresas. São esses cuidados que garantirão nosso rumo ao planeta que queremos.
*Marcus Figueredo é CEO da Hi Technologies, Healthtech que tem como objetivo democratizar o acesso à saúde por meio de tecnologia. O carro-chefe da empresa é o Hilab, laboratório de “bolso” conectado à internet que usa inteligência artificial para acelerar o diagnóstico médico.
How companies comply with the Sustainable Development Goals
2030 is the deadline for all countries in the world to implement the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This means that countries have a little more than ten years to reach these goals and, therefore, to take a few more steps towards a fairer and more sustainable planet.
But it is not just the leaders of the countries that need to take up this challenge. This is also our obligation as citizens. And more than that, it is not enough to have empathy with the Goals, we must seek to achieve this change. This includes companies that aim for sustainable growth. It’s a trend: in addition to social responsibility, sustainability must be among the business objectives.
The good news is that many companies, from distinct segments, are already putting into practice pillars based on SDGs. Here are some examples.
Cabify neutralizes carbon emissions. This means that the company measures how much carbon dioxide its activities emit to compensate via financing projects that take the same amount of gas out of the atmosphere. The initiative seeks to help protect millions of trees, combat global warming and preserve biodiversity.
One of the largest beverage companies in Brazil, Ambev, offers an Accelerator for entrepreneurs seeking environmental solutions. Through this platform, challenges of ideas and technologies with sustainable objectives will be solved. The Accelerator is present in all the countries where the company operates. The project seeks to bring together positive actions beyond the walls of the brewery, which seek to build a sustainable legacy for society and the environment.
At Hi Technologies, the business plan was designed based on Goal 3: Ensure a healthy life and promote well-being for all, at all ages. The startup, through the use of technology and artificial intelligence, seeks to provide access to health for all people, regardless of location or social status; through the Hilab portable laboratory, anyone can do a clinical examination for a very low price.
Therefore, I finish here saying that it does not matter the performance or the sector. At the end of the day, what we need to understand is that we need to worry a bit more and that sustainability is a necessity for companies. It will guarantee our path to the planet we want.
* Marcus Figueredo is CEO of Hi Technologies, a Healthtech that aims to democratize access to health through technology. The flagship of the company is the Hilab, an internet-based “pocket” laboratory that uses artificial intelligence to accelerate medical diagnosis.