The year in review
2012 was a year of many diverse events – the continuing Arab Spring the global recession, Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars, Hurricane Sandy, Obama’s reelection as US president, debates over the regulation of the internet, and the Rio+20 summit.
As we approach the end of an eventful year, it’s important to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re headed and what role technology is playing in transforming our society. Our focus throughout the year has been on bringing Technology for Good to life by using our global scale and commitment to sustainability to bring about change. We remain committed to applying technology to help solve key global challenges relating to peace, development, refugees and human rights.
In some cases, we achieve these goals through global policy and advocacy frameworks. These include the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which aims to expand broadband access in all countries, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which aims to mobilize scientific and technical expertise in support of sustainable-development problem solving. Both of these organizations aim to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.
During the course of 2012, we strengthened our internal governance and affirmed our commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Through Connect to Learn, we have worked to promote the importance of secondary education for girls in developing countries as a way of helping to end poverty. This initiative is steadily gaining momentum – from Africa to the Amazon. Together with our partners, we have connected 25 schools and improved the lives of thousands of students and teachers.
Together with Refugees United, we have used mobility to help refugees reconnect with their loved ones. As of this year, 180,000 users of more than 80 nationalities were registered for the program and approximately 100 families had been reconnected. Having surpassed our initial targets, we announced a new goal to get 1 million people on the program by 2015.
With the UN Foundation, Mashable and 92nd Street Y, we have worked to drive social change through social media engagement. The ability of technology to support sustainable development was in focus at two major events this year – the Rio+Social held in Brazil in June and the Social Good Summit, which took place around the world in September.
No country will be left untouched by our changing climate. In April the Broadband Commission issued a report on climate change that highlighted important policy recommendations. While some progress was made at the recent COP18 UN Climate Change Conference, there is still much work to be done in this area. The GeSI’s SMARTer 2020 report, released during the COP18 event, found that ICT-enabled solutions could potentially reduce global CO2 emissions by 16% by 2020, resulting in savings of USD 1.9 trillion.
Technology will not solve all of the world’s problems, but it can be an important enabler. In this holiday season, I would like to wish you a happy new year for 2013 and hope for your continued engagement in Technology for Good.