G-STIC Shows ICT Delivers People-Centric Sustainable Solutions

Approximately 1000 people from more than 60 countries came together from 23 – 25 October in Brussels to discuss solutions in support of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through science and technology. CSCP coordinated the cross-cutting theme on ICT solutions supporting SDGs and sustainable lifestyles.

With the overall conference looking into sectors such as energy and water, Marco van der Ree, Senior Advisor of the CSCP, coordinated and facilitated the cross-cutting theme “ICT as Enabling Technology”, in partnership with GeSI, Imec/ENoLL and VITO. Sustainable lifestyles and more sustainable production processes created through the achievement of the SDGs through ICT were discussed. Over the two days a broad range of partners participated, providing perspectives from multiple stakeholders in business, the academic sector, civil service and government. Topics covered included connectivity, user-centric co-creation and innovation, ICT as a transformative and disruptive driver for change, inclusion versus exclusion, the human side of technology, customer/citizen perspectives, women in innovation, and youth as a powerful resource for new ideas. Many potential solutions were presented.

Key Findings of the crosscutting theme:

From a cross-cutting perspective, ICT can provide many solutions to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. There are four areas that need to be addressed.

  1. Connect the Unconnected – the 3.9 billion people still unconnected need to be included to reap the full benefits of connectivity. Strong investment in connectivity, especially in developing countries and LDCs, is needed to achieve this. Connectivity needs to be inclusive (including women, people with disabilities, vulnerable groups, and people in war/humanitarian situations.) A focus on education is required and existing best practices need to be identified, scaled and replicated.
  2. Collaborative innovation needs to be strengthened by creating inter-disciplinary innovation spaces for joint application, co-creation, and implementation. Living Labs calls this the quadruple helix: government, the private sector, citizens, and academia. Innovation needs to be inclusive and solutions need to be funded. The SDGs should be taken as the framework for action in collaborative projects and in developing new business models.
  3. Solutions that deliver sustainability should be identified and fast-tracked for replication. These solutions need to empower people, taking a “user-centric approach” to influence consumption behavior and provide the opportunity for more sustainable lifestyles.
  4. We have to be cognisant of and address the risks. We need to be aware so current patterns of disempowerment and exclusion don’t get replicated or exacerbated by digitalisation. The public and private sectors need to embrace ICT innovation. Adoption of ICT innovation is key to making the transition to more sustainable consumption patterns and production processes a reality. Cyber-security measures need to be put in place so people and their data are protected, and to minimize the risks of deliberate acts of cyber-warfare in a highly-networked economy and society (Digital Geneva Convention).

In conclusion, it is necessary to develop a set of ICT-specific principles of responsible digital transformation, engaging all relevant stakeholders in a transparent and participative process.

The CSCP further contributed to the conference through a presentation from Kristina Modée, “ICT innovation facilitating the transition so sustainable lifestyles” and with Thomas Wagner’s presentation and participation in a panel discussion in the Circular Economy theme on “Implementing Circular Economy and industry 4.0”.

The G-STIC conference ended with the publication of the Chairperson’s Summary titled “Connecting Technological Innovation To Decision Making For Sustainability” which will be found on the G-STIC website. The conference and Summary form the foundation of an ongoing dialogue and multistakeholder engagement on leveraging technological and scientific potential to achieve sustainable development goals.


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