A global claim has been echoing for many years: since 2000, when the UN launched the Millennium Development Goals, the world hasn’t seen such public debate about the need to commit to social and environmental targets. As the years have passed and global leaders have complied with the reviewed and renamed Sustainable Development Goals, society started to be bolder about expanding the commitment to a better future.

In the last few years, more companies have been vocal about their own actions thanks to an increased responsiveness of their stakeholders: investors, clients and civil society who demand more engaged action for the SDGs.

Clients and consumers are the first group to put pressure on the private sector, carefully choosing ecofriendly products and brands. Last September, 87 companies, including Danone, Amazon and IKEA, committed to set climate targets across their operations and value chains, setting zero net emissions by 2050. A recent Accenture survey shows that 80% of consumers believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design environmentally conscious products. It affects the whole supply chain: from lighter and smaller packaging that will require less material to components that are recyclable and reusable.

Jobseekers are another important group that influences companies’ commitment to sustainable actions. MBA graduates are now able to see if corporate social responsibility strategies are legitimate or pure PR – and choose companies they want to work for accordingly. A 2015 survey covering more than 3,700 MBA graduates shows that 64% of them don’t think businesses are making enough efforts to address environmental challenges. Recruiters are getting used to questions about these CSR policies and are feeling the need to develop their employer’s branding, the capacity to attract talented people, investing in real sustainable actions.

Finally, there is the deciding factor for many businesses: money. Asset managers are increasingly taking sustainability into consideration when shaping their investment strategies, according to a recently published article in the Financial Times. Some of them, like Hermes, are launching SDG Equity Funds focused on small and medium-sized companies engaged with the UN Goals. Others, like the Scandinavian investment group Summa, are focusing on some sustainable development areas like infrastructure and innovation (goal 9). These initiatives follow the launch of UN Impact, a program that aims to channel funds to SDG-related projects and companies.

Other funding opportunities like HoryouToken, the utility token 100% dedicated to inclusion and sustainability, are also spotting projects and actions that resonate with the UN SDGs. Built on the concept of Blockchain with a purpose, HoryouToken supports and promotes social and economic inclusion while enhancing a positive circle of interactions benefiting civil society, social entrepreneurs and social good doers.

To know more about HoryouToken, click here.

16-year-old Swedish Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – HP1EF9N1AIFX9

I must confess that I was disturbed by Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, which took place last September at the UN Headquarters in New York. I’ve seen many teenagers angry for whatever reason, but never for such a genuine and clear purpose as the future of their own kind. It’s not about the planet anymore, it’s about the hundreds of thousands of climate refugees, it’s about the species that are under threat and whose disappearance could unbalance the environment só strongly that it would cause famine and chaos. It’s about us, the ones who have a few more decades ahead to live.

Although I’ve seen many angry teenagers before, I’ve never seen a 16-year-old be so disruptive with her words and receive so much criticism for being too «bold and pessimistic». But I know I’ve never seen such mobilization of so many young people. It was beautiful to see millions of children going on strike for the climate just a few days later, inspired by a clear message that said we must create other rules because the current ones are no longer working. I saw it as a call to re-create capitalism and rethink our consumption and production system, as well as our way to reassess national growth and wealth. Isn’t there a better way to be rich than to always seek to produce more and more?

It was the first time than I saw such anger coming from someone so young and, yet, so right that she strokes hearts all over the world. She disturbed some, angered others, inspired and caused strong emotion on many – I haven’t heard of nobody say they were not touched by her words.

A few days later, surrounded by business people from an industry that is marked by their not-too-sustainable methods, all I’ve heard was: we need to change the way we work, the raw materials we use, our waste management. Greta was right, they say, and Greta is the future: she is the angry face of new consumers who are not happy about how the current system goes and demand change now. Greta’s generation might not have the smooth personality we expect from our children, but they know what they will face if we don’t act now. And we don’t dare not to.

Horyou is proud to support the global efforts to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages (SDG3). As part of our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, we invite Dr. Alexey Kulikov from the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases, based at the World Health Organization, as a guest writer.
Growing ageing populations have resulted in a 30%
increase in the global prevalence of mental health disorders since 1990
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health disorders account for 30% of the non-fatal disease burden and 10% of the overall disease burden, worldwide. Mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders, including autism (1).
Growing ageing populations have resulted in a 30% increase in the global prevalence of mental health disorders since 1990 (2). The heavy burden of mental disorders and small proportion of national budgets earmarked for mental health (less than US$2 per person per year in low and middle-income countries) has resulted in a substantial gap between the need and availability of mental health disorders and treatments (1). Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases go undetected and untreated due to the lack of mental health care available in many countries. Mental health is an integral part of an individual’s capacity to lead a fulfilling and productive life, and persons with untreated mental disorders experience an average of 10-20 years reduction in life expectancy (3).
The high burden of mental disorders is not just of public health concern but has growing economic implications, too. Common mental disorders alone cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion per year, resulting in increased health and welfare expenditures as well as reduced economic productivity (4). Persons with mental health conditions are more likely to exit the labor force, miss days of work or perform at a reduced capacity while at work.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Ministry of Health of Jamaica and RTI International developed a pilot Mental Health Investment Case in Jamaica in 2018. The investment case modeled clinical interventions selected by Jamaica’s Ministry of Health to scale up treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and psychoses disorders. The selected scale-up of interventions was projected to cost approximately 16 billion JMD in the next 15 years but also to lead to large economic productivity and social benefit gains valued at approximately 60 billion JMD over the same period (5). The take-away point from this study in Jamaica is that the benefits of mental health treatment significantly outweighed the costs by 375%.
The need to address social and economic challenges posed by mental disorders was highlighted during the High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in 2018 (6). Together, UNDP along with WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and the WHO Secretariat for the United Nations Interagency Task Force for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (UNIATF) is developing the methodology for mental health investment cases to enable national governments to develop national mental health investment cases to strengthen their responses to mental health disorders and promote health and well-being.
Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages is the Sustainable Development Goal #3
Capitalizing on UNIATF’s experience in development of national NCD investment cases, mental health investment cases will assist national governments in estimating the “hidden” cost of mental disorders resulting from labor force reductions, presenteeism and absenteeism. Based on empirical, nationally owned data and WHO and UNDP tools, analyses from mental health investment cases will identify the leading behavioral, social and environmental risk factors in a country and propose concrete national policies and relevant clinical interventions to combat mental health disorders. From these analyses, an estimation of the return on investments (ROIs) of scaled-up action for the treatment and prevention of mental disorders will be calculated. These ROIs will compare the monetary value of health impacts and economic outcomes of scaled-up interventions with the cost of these interventions. As in the case of NCD Investment Cases, ROIs will allow ministries of health to make compelling economic arguments for taking multi-sectoral and holistic action to promote, protect and restore mental health.
By Alexey Kulikov, Jenna Patterson, Mark Humphrey Van Ommeren,Dudley Tarlton and Nicholas Banatvala 
1. World Health Organization, 2014. Mental health atlas. Available at https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/178879/9789241565011_eng.pdf
2. World Health Organization, 2019. Investing in Mental Health for Sustainable Development. Available athttps://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/324949/WHO-UHC-CD-NCD-19.99-eng.pdf
3. Firth, J. et al., 2019. A blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness.. Lancet Psychiatry.
4. Chisholm, D. et al., 2016. Scaling-up treatment of depression and anxiety: a global return on investment analysis. Lancet Psychiatry.
5. Scaling up treatment for depression, anxiety and psychosis in Jamaica: A return on investment analysis, 2018. RTI International.
6. United Nations General Assembly resolution 73/2. Political declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. A/RES/73/2 (10 October 2018) from undocs.org/en/A/RES/73/2

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.

Copyrighted_Marton_Kovacs_2019

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.

ITU Forum

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.

ITU Telecom World 2019 takes place in Budapest, Hungary, from 9 – 12 September 2019.

Wind and solar power generation in rural Japan

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.

Want to know more about Japan, the host country of SIGEF 2019? Follow our posts on Horyou blog.

SIGEF 2019 will take place in Tokyo on 18-19 September.

More Stories

by Angela Baker Trade finance. Unless you are an importer or exporter, you probably wouldn't use this term. When a company in one place sells...