At a time when digital technologies are transforming and disrupting industries, economies and broadly speaking societies, the concept of sustainable development becomes all the more relevant. As enablers, technologies such as the Internet, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing can help us bridge divides between developed and developing countries, tackle global challenges such as poverty, hunger, and climate change, to name a few, and accelerate human well-being.
That said, digital transformation also increases inequalities and disrupts social cohesion. To illustrate, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 shows a disparity between countries with access to the Internet given that over 80 percent of the population in developed countries is online in comparison to the 45 and 20 percent in the developing and least developing countries. It is, therefore, the responsibility of each and every one of us to mitigate and minimise the adverse effects of technology and ensure that it is the driving force behind sustainable development.
The notion of sustainable development appeared in 1987 in the Brundtland Commission Report ‘Our Common Future’ where it was defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. 28 years later, in order to address the contemporary challenges and secure a prosperous future, the international community gathered at the Sustainable Development Summit (2015) where it adopted unanimously the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, set out the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and pledged to ‘leave no one behind’.