Digital technologies could slash the cost of delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by as much as 20%, with future innovations also making further major savings possible.
Force for Good, an initiative that aims to deploy investment in sustainable development and is backed by major financial institutions, warns that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has undermined the global economy’s fragile recovery from COVID-19, while the climate emergency gathers pace. It estimates that meeting the SDGs will require US$4.3trn a year – “more money than ever before” – because the international community is not keeping pace with its commitments.
However, its poll of 100 technology industry leaders shows that there is broad commitment to investments in key areas, with 85% pursuing artificial intelligence initiatives and 60% focusing on big-data analytics (Technology for a Secure, Sustainable and Superior Future report 2023). A total of 64% of leaders are probing Internet of Things technologies, while 57% are engaging with smart-grid innovations.
Force for Good says that deploying existing digital technologies to aid global connectivity could deliver 20% of the SDGs, reducing the cost by more than US$30trn. Targeting future innovation at specific goals across education, finance and healthcare could raise the total saving to around US$55trn.