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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

A Free Webinar Promoted by the Space Agency Tracks Land Degradation and Urban Development

Photo: NASA

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).

Brock Blevins

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.

ARSET’s trainings bridge the gap between NASA and decision-makers

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:


(Marcus Figueredo)

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals

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.

(English version)

How companies comply with the Sustainable Development Goals

(Marcus Figueredo)

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.

Focused on 3 Sustainable Development Goals, the Future Here Summit invited social good doers, innovators and artists to re-imagine a new Renaissance – one involving technology.

Horyou team presenting the social network for social good to the Future Here Summit audience. Image Credits to Anna Rosa Paladino for TIAC Academy.

Let’s fast forward and think of a world without inequalities, where innovation is a core element in all enterprises and society is built on partnerships for good. This is not Utopia – all the aforementioned scenarios actually come under three of seventeen United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The 3 SDGs – Reduced Inequalities; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Partnership to Achieve the Goals – , were the main focus of the Future Here Summit, an event focused on re-imagining the next generations from a ‘Renaissance’ viewpoint. Unsurprisingly, Florence, birthplace of the eponymous artistic avant-garde movement, was the venue. While addressing issues including Augmented Intelligence, Energy, Nature, Sustainable Development and Education, the event had both on-site and virtual panels and sessions, whereby artists, entrepreneurs, visionaries and academics were invited to exchange ideas and expectations for the future.

Horyou, the social network for social good, contributed to one of the sessions with an inspiring presentation of its role in empowering change-makers. Speaking for Horyou, Sueyfer Velásquez, Social Media and Partnerships Manager, introduced the network to a diverse and curious audience. «It’s a very powerful experience to share our vision for a better world in the birthplace of Renaissance», she said. Seizing the opportunity, Sueyfer went on to introduce HoryouToken, the first digital currency for economic inclusion and advancement of the SDGs, along with HoryouTV and SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will take place on 18-19 September, in Tokyo, Japan.

In addition to the conferences, the Future Here Summit incorporated Orbit, a dedicated incubator for the development of «experiential wisdom tools and businesses» where art, science and businesses were welcome to help promote inclusive growth.

To governments, international institutions and the scientific community, Artificial Intelligence represents hope for sustainability and quality of life for all. The 3rd edition of the AI For Good Global Summit, a yearly event organized by the International Telecommunication Union’s, a UN agency, will be held in Geneva on 28-31 May to discuss the role of AI for Social Development and Social Good. Horyou blog spoke with the Head of the Strategic Engagement Division of ITU, Frederic Werner, about the expected outcome of this initiative.

AI for Good Summit will take place in Geneva from 28-31 May

How can AI help society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

AI has enormous potential to help accelerate progress towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by capitalizing on the unprecedented quantities of data being now generated in all areas, including human health, education, commerce, communications, migration and much more. Leaders in AI and humanitarian action are convening on the neutral platform offered by the United Nations to work towards AI improving the quality and sustainability of life on our planet.

It’s the 3rd edition of the AI for Good Global Summit. What has changed since the first edition?

The 2017 summit marked the beginning of a global dialogue on the potential of AI to act as a force for good. The action-oriented 2018 summit gave rise to numerous ‘AI for Good’ projects, including an ‘AI for Health’ Focus Group, now led by ITU and the World Health Organization (WHO). The 2019 summit will continue to connect AI innovators with public and private-sector decision-makers, building collaboration to maximize the impact of ‘AI for Good’.

Could you mention some of the educational tools the Summit will offer to its participants?

The AI for Good Learning day will take place on Friday 31 May. It is made up of workshops, tutorials, and educational sessions through three full-fledged tracks targeting businesses, the public sector and youth. The participants will learn about the latest AI trends, use cases and solutions to major societal challenges.

Horyou is a media partner of AI for Good Global Summit.

Venture capital is looking more into your company’s sustainability performance

Impact investing: money with purpose

Sustainability in general, and The UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular, make for good business. And some investors have recognized that for quite some time – since 2004, to be precise. When the UN started conversations with a number of global stock exchange operators, corporate social responsibility hit the radars of listed corporations. In 2012, Nasdaq (USA), B3 (Brazil), Johannesburg Stock Exchange (South Africa), Borsa Istanbul (Turkey) and The Egyptian Exchange made a public commitment to advance sustainability in their markets. It was the first step in the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE), a UN-led global movement which now counts more than 80 members from all continents.

In the past few years, the SDGs have boosted the discussion on corporate sustainability and the role of companies in building a better business culture with a stronger positive impact on society. More importantly, the SDGs were eventually adopted by many companies to be an integral part of their sustainability plans as a major performance target. Since then, a number of studies have related SDGs to business performance, proving that gender equality, investments on education and fair wages lead to a more competitive society and, thus, to more sustainable businesses.

More recently, venture capitalists have been looking more closely into sustainability practices before deciding which companies to invest in. With the help of UN agencies, Social venture funds and social impact-driven investors networks were set up to prompt companies into improving their CSR practices while pursuing their profit-making operations. The recently launched UNDP SDG Impact program is a good example of how to channel private investment and capital to meet the SDGs, via providing funders with roadmaps and data on the best investment plans.

Initiatives like HoryouToken are also a worthwhile alternative for all investors to consider, from big corporations to private investors, owing to its Blockchain technology which provides transparency and traceability with proof of impact, resonating with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability is now. It’s profitable, it can help change the world and build better times for all.

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