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Mr Malcolm Johnson (Deputy Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union) explained that the session would look at how digital solutions can drive progress towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs) through presenting Using ICTs to Tackle Climate Change, a report commissioned by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi) and the ITU. The report focuses on how the wider remit of ICTs can help achieve the SDGs by 2030. It shows that ICTs could save 720 000 lives from road accidents and reduce 20% of green gas emissions by 2030. However, this cannot happen without connectivity. Johnson stressed that the work of the ITU, WSIS action lines, and the SDGs are interlinked and they all hinge on connecting the next billion. To this end, building ICT infrastructure as well as confidence and security in technologies are crucial to implementation of the SDGs. We, therefore, need to develop regulatory frameworks, to maximise the benefit of ICTs and minimise the risks and downsides through collaboration and coordination among relevant stakeholders. He noted that the advantage of the ITU is that industry, which has an important role in achieving the SDGs, is already represented since we need to look at the potential of business to implement the SDGs. Finally, Johnson alluded to the good cooperation with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) to achieve such objectives.
Mr Luis Neves (Chairman, GeSI) explained GeSI as a strategic partnership that brings together companies active in the field of ICT and international organisations to foster economic and social sustainability while driving economic growth in productivity in order to have sustainable world through ICTs. GeSI can play a role in the sustainable agenda through partnerships which are important to drive sustainability and ensure the SDGs will be achieved. In this regard, the GeSi report expounds how ICTs play a fundamental role in achieving the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs, particularly with regard to climate change. Neves called attention to the challenges that should also be addressed. On top of these challenges is the issue of trust; people needs to trust technologies and the private sector should make people feel that they deserve the trust they have in their technologies.
Neves further elaborated some of the key findings of the report. In its global analysis, the report highlights that the world is still lagging behind sustainable development and hence more efforts are required to improve the situation in the developed and developing world through digital solutions because of the transformative way of technologies. Different innovations will speed up and technologies will disrupt the current unsustainable business models with more sustainable models. There are amazing achievements that could be reached through ICT but most of them are subject to connectivity, which is also fundamental to the achievement of the SDGs. He asserted that if broadband is not deployed, we will miss the 12% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, something we cannot afford. However, we need to identify the barriers and work to overcome them. Such barriers include the prevalent business model, but also the lack of ICT skills and the lack of capital.
by Noha Fathy