Key Messages


is required

On its current trajectory, the world will be unable to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our biosphere is under threat from rising carbon emissions, our society sees persistent inequality and lack of access to basic services, and our economy continues to drive the unsustainable consumption of natural resources. Climate action (SDG 13) is a critical pre-condition for the 2030 Agenda. Addressing the climate crisis transcends geography and local interests and is an issue that nation states have committed to, but one that requires truly integrated and innovative solutions.

Digital with
purpose is the
way forward

To fully support the transformation required by the SDGs, digital technologies need to be developed and deployed with positive societal impact in mind and within a context of shared aspiration: digital with purpose. Digital with purpose has three components:

  • Commitments for all;
  • Leadership by the ICT sector; and
  • Roles for each of the key stakeholder group

Commitments for all

All organisations and individuals need to make four “universal commitments”:

  1. re-commit to the 2030 Agenda;
  2. state their intended impact on the SDGs, including a specific commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 50% by 20303;
  3. embrace the principles of transparency and collaboration; and
  4. harness the power of digital technologies to support these commitments.

Organisations need to do this to secure not only all our futures, but also their own long term success. The two are increasingly, indivisibly, inter-dependent.

Leadership by the ICT sector

Leadership by the ICT sector requires sector level and individual organisation dedication to:

  • Lead on the universal commitments, recognising the need to collectively support the entire 2030 Agenda. This includes areas that may be more difficult to deliver with existing business models, e.g. providing digital access to all;
  • Build impact transparency across the ICT sector; partner sectors; at individual, village, city, state, country levels; and globally. Helping build the data, systems and governance to link activities to impact on the SDGs, enhancing impact and locking in longer term success;
  • Recognise and address negative externalities. This will necessarily include investment to better understand contexts, cause and effects, and potential solutions to mitigate the negative impacts; and
  • Operate responsibly. The sector, and particularly the services sub-sector, needs the credibility of both acting, and being seen to act, as the responsible sector if it is to lead on this broader agenda.

Digital technologies
can and need to
contribute more

Whilst digital technologies will help close the gap to some of the 2030 targets, performance against approximately a third of targets analysed is expected to deteriorate even after increased technology adoption. Digital technologies need to do much more, and there is plenty to suggest they can:

  • This report analyses the emissions abatement potential of seven existing applications. It is estimated that emissions abated in 2030 as a result of greater adoption of these use cases will be equivalent to nearly twice the size of the growth in the total ICT sector emissions footprint between now and 2030.
  • A more optimistic scenario featuring ambitious policy and sector interventions could reverse the growth of the ICT sector footprint and enable emissions reduction equivalent to 15% of total world emissions.
  • Over $3 trillion is likely to be spent on research and development in the ICT sector in the ten years up to 2030, indicating huge potential for innovative solutions to the SDGs if effectively directed.

Digital technologies can also be deployed in ways that counter the Goals: fuelling consumption, hardening the digital divide, creating dislocation in the labour markets, consolidating power of the few over the many. Enhancing the positive impact needs to go hand in hand with minimising any negative impacts.

Digital technologies
are having a
powerful impact

In the face of this challenge, digital technologies, the powerful collection of seven technologies2 that increasingly pervade our lives, drive positive progress across the 2030 Agenda in four key ways. They help us:

  • Connect & Communicate, opening up relationships, information, ideas and opportunity;
  • Monitor & Track the world around us, so that our impact is transparent and we can make targeted interventions;
  • Analyse vast swathes of information, Optimise processes, procedures and resource productivity, and Predict where we need to intervene; and
  • Augment our human abilities and Autonomate systems to carry out activities on our behalf by creating an ‘active bridge’ between the physical and digital worlds.

GeSI commits
to delivering a

GeSI, its members and partners stand by these commitments and announce their intention to work across the industry and with the key stakeholder groups to make Digital with Purpose a reality. Join us!

Of the 169 SDG targets, 103 are directly influenced by digital technologies, with established examples of deployment that provide insight into their potential to make an impact. Analysis of 20 targets and their indicators across the SDGs shows that the expected deployment of existing digital technologies will on average, help accelerate progress by 22% and mitigate downward trends by 23%.

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