In 2013, the United Nations replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the United Nations, the 17 SDGs are aimed at;ending poverty, ending extreme hunger, ensuring quality education for everyone, improving healthcare, ending gender inequality, protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of ecosystems, to improve social and economic development and ending gender inequality.
The SDGs shape international development and are to be achieved by 2030.
MDGs were replaced due to the fact that they were narrow in focus. SDGs are set out to tackle a wide range of issues and have a more universal nature. The main concern that all stakeholders (governments, private sector, civil society and private citizens) are faced with is the practicality of attaining all of the goals in such a short time, by 2030.
ICT plays a catalytic role as it accelerates actions on the Sustainable Development Goals. ICT notably mobile broadband is a game changer in the attainment of SDGs as it has demonstrated to be the fastest technology uptake in human history. According to projections by Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile broadband (3G or above) will cover more than 90 percent of the world´s population, leaping from almost one billion subscribers in 2010 to 7.7 billion subscriptions by 2021 (total mobile subscriptions will be 9.1 billion). By the end of 2015, the total number of mobile subscriptions had reached 100 percent penetration at around 7.3 billion the same number of mobile subscriptions as people in the world. Despite the gains, 4 billion people from developing countries were still not using the Internet. However, this staggering ability to scale fast will help overcome the challenges of ‘connecting the unconnected’ and reaching the ‘last mile’ to deliver unprecedented social and economic inclusion. ICT, especially mobile broadband, will be the essential infrastructure platform for the SDGs.
While this is recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the full potential of ICT is neither systematically nor adequately reflected in the individual goals and subsequent targets. Rapid action is needed to harness the contribution that ICT can make toward the achievement of the Global Goals.
Fully embracing the potential of ICT is, therefore, a key ingredient to achieving the SDGs by their target date of 2030, and possibly to even accelerating their achievement. Five ways ICT can help According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “more ubiquitous access to and use of broadband Internet networks, which are available in a competitive market and at affordable prices, will help foster innovation and drive the growth of the Internet Economy and the economy in general.”
To achieve the SDGs ICT needs to be combined with innovative policies, services and solutions to deliver transformation at unprecedented speed and scale. It can be a powerful means of implementation in five major ways:
- Accelerated up scaling of critical services in health, education, financial services, smart agriculture, and low-carbon energy systems.
- Reduced deployment costs
- Enhanced public awareness and engagement
- Innovation, connectivity, productivity and efficiency across many sectors
- Faster upgrading the quality of services and jobs. ICT can bridge institutional gaps by integrating informal trade into formal frameworks, strengthening economic development and reducing trade barriers