Technology: A Tool for Sustainable Development

     On March 25, the Youth4SDGs campaign hosted a webinar on the role of Role of Science, Technology, Innovation & Data in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The discussion helped link the audience with awareness and knowledge needed to engage in opportunities related to the science-policy interface in sustainable development.  

     The Science-Policy Interface (SPI) has become an increasingly important component of sustainable development within the United Nations system. It provides the foundation for empirically-based policies, facilitates the use of science as an enabler in policy implementation and review, and provides a unique scientific lens into monitoring impact. Furthermore, SPIs have been integral in identify emerging priorities, drawing links between the interconnected nature of thematic issues, and devising solutions to address challenges and barriers to progress.

Missed this webinar? Watch the full recording here!

     A wide array of tools and methodologies can be employed to promote a more empirically-based approached to the SDGs. Veena Dali, president of Global App Initiative at Boston University and MCN Fellow, discussed the role of information communication technologies (ICTs) to promote connectivity and transform the landscape of development by facilitating access to information. Building apps for NGOs both at the local and global level, she highlighted the importance of fostering a strong relationship with partners in order to tailor apps that will fit the NGO's need and demands of the user. Alexander Wielgros, a remote MCN fellow from the UK and head of an on-campus UNICEF initiative, described how ICTs have also allowed for more accountability and transparency among stakeholders by make records available.

     Science, technology, and innovation (STIs) are another broad range of tools that can help reach the SDGs, from developing more environmentally-friendly technologies to early warning systems to better prepare and response to disasters in order to mitigate risks. Kimmy Pugel and Daniel Hornett from the California Polytechnique State University and very active members of Engineers Without Borders, discussed their work in Thailand working with local NGOs and resource-limited community to develop technologies that are locally sourced and socioculturally appropriate. They highlighted the importance of working within local contexts and capacities, while using data as tool for assessing impact and knowing whether interventions are having a positive change on the community they are working with.

     Dalia Marquez, Venezuelan youth representative to UNEP and focal point for the Sustainable Consumption and Production Working Group for the UN Major Group for Children & Youth (UN MGCY), introduced the new formed UN MGCY Youth SPI Platform to promote participation following the webinar. Such a platform serves to coordinate and facilitate the participation of young scientists, engineers, and practitioners to drive more empirically-informed, context-specific, and fit-for-purpose change through science, technology, innovation, and data. She mentioned that for sustainable development to achieve long-term resilience, it cannot proceed arbitrarily - to close the gap between the “world we want” and the world we currently live in - it has to be driven by a purpose, a need, and goals. Science and technology are key enablers to steering decision-making, policy design, implementation, and review towards such goals. Therefore, as young practitioners, we have both the immense opportunity and responsibility to contribute to and make use of empirically-driven principles. Siska Dewi, a colleague from Indonesia and SPI focal point for the UN MGCY's Habitat III working group, broadened the discussion by noting the importance of both the natural and social sciences, to address both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of development that are each crucial to understanding barriers to progress, access to and proper use of new innovations, and emerging needs.

     A rich discussion followed on how to best close the gaps between policymakers and practitioners on the ground, in order to promote greater coherence and close gaps in the science-policy-practice nexus. It was suggested that proper spaces for such dialogue should be established to better ensure that policies are informed by technical capacities and needs, while technologies are not developed outside the social, political, economic, environmental, and financial context in which they are being deployed.

     You can watch the webinar here on Youtube. Don't hesitate to reach to further engage in our activities and tune into the next webinar on peace and partnerships on April 22!

#Youth4SDGs is a youth-led campaign meant to empower and connect young people with existing opportunities to meaningfully engage in sustainable development activities. We want youth to identify-match-engage-develop-sustain their passions into action by linking them to already established youth engagement platforms to fulfill our generational responsibility.