ITU: Digital Technologies Directly Benefit 70% of SDG Targets

ITU: Digital Technologies Directly Benefit 70% of SDG Targets

Emma Okonji

More than two-thirds of the UN’s targets for sustainable development have benefited directly from digital technologies, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organisers of the ongoing Sustainable Development Goal Digital initiative (SDG Digital), holding at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  

With digital technologies so closely linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the SDG Digital event highlights how safe, inclusive and scalable digital solutions can put the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development back on track amid concerns that the world may miss the vision for people, planet and prosperity that was set in 2015. 

The SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda, a global analysis of the connections between digital technologies and sustainable development, was released as part of SDG Digital to provide a roadmap to governments on their digital transformation journey and to promote action and financing.  

Both the ITU Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin and the UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, said in the foreword of SDG Digital AccelerationAgenda, that with only a fraction of the SDGs on track at the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda, “It is urgent to ensure that everyone, everywhere can build their own digital futures.

“The recent breakthroughs in digital technology have unleashed unprecedented opportunities, and with them new avenues for digital innovation in our race against time to fulfil the promise of the 2030 Agenda.”   

According to UN assessments, progress on half of the 169 SDG targets is either weak or insufficient at the 2030 Agenda’s halfway point adding that 30 per cent of the SDG targets have either stalled or gone in reverse.   

With digital transformation demanding joint efforts between the private sector, financial institutions, civil society, the UN, governments and young people, SDG Digital brings together experts, policy-makers and business leaders to explore the achievements, gaps and solutions on how digital technologies can support the 2030 Agenda.  

SDG Digital highlights that the funding gap of over $3.7 trillion for the SDGs should focus international efforts on enablers, such as infrastructure and connectivity, as well as the pooling of resources through collaboration including the private sector and the utilisation of diverse financing methods.  

The formal opening of SDG Digital is part of the UN’s SDG Action Weekend, a series of high impact initiatives focused on mobilising further leadership and investment to bring progress to scale between now and 2030. This includes the UN High Impact Initiative on Digital Public Infrastructure to scale inclusive and open digital ecosystems for the SDGs.

According to Steiner, “Digital public infrastructure represents the ‘roads and bridges’ of our new era on which countries can ‘transport’ a range of vital services to citizens, from e-health and e-government services to online education and social protection.”

Earlier in the week, ITU announced a decline in the number of people worldwide without a connection to the internet to 2.6 billion people in 2023 from 2.7 billion in 2022.  

|According to ITU, the statistic on the global offline population is important for tracking connectivity, a foundation of using technology for sustainable development. At the current trend, the global targets for universal and meaningful connectivity are unlikely to be met by 2030, ITU said.  

SDG Digital on-site participants include over 300 hundred leaders from government, civil society, industry, academia, and the UN system. 

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