In 2019, the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) published an important report on Digital Sustainability “Digital with Purpose: Delivering a SMARTer 2030.” According to the study, 103 of the 169 Targets set by the UN Sustainable Development Agenda are directly influenced by technology and there is already evidence of its potential positive impact.
In particular, an analysis of 20 Targets and their indicators shows that the implementation of existing digital technologies will help accelerate progress toward sustainability by 22% and mitigate negative trends by 23 percent on average.
The study also highlights that carbon emissions are still growing around the world, inequalities in society and lack of access to basic services persist, and the economy continues to consume natural resources at unsustainable rates. At this rate, the world will not be able to achieve the sustainable development goals, so urgent action needs to be taken at all levels.
Truly integrated and innovative solutions are needed to tackle the climate crisis, and digital technologies can and must contribute more to sustainable development. Overall, to maximise the opportunities that digital technologies offer for our future, we need to renew our commitment to Agenda 2030 and the digital sector has to be more inclusive, in terms of access to technology, and more responsible and ambitious in reducing the impact of its activities. There is a need for a better understanding of how digital technologies can be used with positive effects while minimising negative external factors.
Already in the previous report “#SystemTransformation,” published in 2016 in partnership con Accenture, GeSI revealed that every country in the world had significant gaps in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that “business as usual” will not be anywhere near enough to achieve them in 15 years. The study highlighted that ICT solutions can have a positive impact on sustainable development for their diffusion speed and reach, which are 23 times greater than conventional approaches.