The Sustainable Development Goals represent humanity’s shared commitment to achieve ambitious global gains for people and the planet by 2030. Of the SDG’s 17 goals and 169 targets, not a single one is detached from the implications and potential of digital technology. From ending extreme poverty, to promoting inclusive economic growth and decent work, to reducing maternal mortality, to achieving universal literacy and numeracy and doubling the productivity of small farmers – progress is intertwined with the use of digital technology and new forms of digital cooperation.11
However, technological solutions are not enough. Diverse political systems, history, culture, resource constraints and other factors which have marginalised far too many people, are – and will continue to be – of critical importance. The application of technology must be aligned with investments in human capital, infrastructure and environmental protection. Widening access to digital technologies is necessary, but not sufficient. Access needs to be affordable to be meaningful. Special efforts are needed to remove barriers for marginalised groups who often face a double bind: they already face discrimination in its many analogue forms and are least likely to be connected. Pre-existing forms of marginalisation should not be perpetuated or aggravated in the digital sphere.
Success will require a commitment by all involved stakeholders to hard work and learning over many years about how to broaden opportunity and build truly inclusive economies and societies. We believe that there is significant room for digital technology and improved cooperation to contribute to these efforts.