As some economies begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNDP Human Development Report warns that, for some dimensions of human development, we are seeing levels of deprivation not seen in the mid-1990s 1980. Looking ahead, the goal is not to return to the “normality” of 2019, where the pace of progress on many SDGs would not have made it possible to meet the 2030 deadline, but to build back better.
With the pandemic, we have found that countries with more developed digital infrastructures are often better equipped to meet the immediate and medium-term challenges of providing health and social services. online education and use digital payments systems. The pandemic has shown the importance of technology and, in many ways, has accelerated digital transformation. We examined emerging trends in some key technologies in developing economies that have the potential to have a large and lasting impact.
New or less expensive technologies have made geospatial data more accessible. Small island developing states that are exposed to immediate risks like sea level rise and climate change-induced extreme weather events, like the Maldives, use drones to map disaster risk.
In Peru, we use spatial data to help the government develop a forest sector recovery plan.
Satellite data can also be used to develop microinsurance programs for the benefit of farmers, where data on precipitation and a mobile app enable automated and seamless payments to farmers in the event of crop loss due to significantly above or below average rainfall. This can improve the resilience and livelihoods of many farmers in developing countries.
Innovative mechanisms are emerging in the area of financial technology, including the Gcash Forest platform, supported by the UNDP Biodiversity Funding Initiative in the Philippines. More than two million people have already signed up for the app since its launch a year ago and accumulate points by engaging in sustainable activities such as walking, waiving paper bills or buying organic products. More than US $ 500,000 has been invested in tree planting so far.
In Lebanon, UNDP's AltFinLab has piloted the deployment of a cryptocurrency called Cedar Coin. A tree is planted for each coin purchased. These are native species, and each type of cedar has its own price. Specific trees are recorded in a register using blockchain.
Applications of the “internet of things” are growing, from the smart mobility to smart cities, to smart agriculture, such as irrigation systems and value chain management. Smart meters are essential for scaling renewable energy, on-grid or off-grid, and pave the way for other applications to reduce the risks of investing in “green” energy in many developing countries. development. NGOs and academia are also exploring unique applications in the monitoring and learning cycles of projects.
But we cannot expect countries to reap the full benefits of technology without a reliable connection and affordable. Today, some 3.6 billion people still do not have access to the Internet, the majority in developing countries.
Building a solid foundation requires more people in developing countries to innovate at local level. Sometimes a cheaper, simpler solution will do the trick. During a hackathon in Rwanda, several teams of young engineers proposed to use new technologies to transmit data from sensors in remote areas without internet coverage to the nearest internet point.
If the increasing trend of Corporate commitments to sustainability is well established, the important question to ask is whether these commitments aim to improve their brand image or are made with a view to mitigating climate change. It is not enough to just go on business as usual and then report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after the fact. Any real change must come from a detailed examination of the impact of its activities, at all levels, from the supply chain to production and beyond.
Private companies can play a key role in providing their support for local initiatives, given the vast human and other resources, but also the influence they have.
The Nature, Climate and Energy team of UNDP and the Office of the Digital Director are open to any idea on how digital solutions can have an impact on the ground in the service of sustainable development. Please send your comments and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.