World Economic Forum on ASEAN: Changing the world through partnerships

Editor's note: Today we are featuring a post by Todd Ashton, President of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka:

World Economic Forum on ASEAN: Changing the world through partnerships

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN this week in Malaysia, the discussions will focus on how technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing and shaping ASEAN and the rest of the world. For all the positive impact that information and communication technology (ICT) and the IoT can deliver, however, the reality is that in Southeast Asia not all sectors of society are currently able to benefit from this impact.

As part of Ericsson’s regional leadership team, I am actively promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together with other Ericsson leaders because we believe that ICT can help us attain the SDGs by the year 2030.

My personal SDG choice is SDG #17 – Partnerships for the Goals. I am an advocate of partnering for success. There is saying that goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together” - and I believe that we will get further if we combine our strengths towards achieving these sustainable goals.

I believe that to be successful in a sustainable development agenda, especially in a developing country like Malaysia, we have to have partnerships between the government, private industry players and society. Most importantly, these partnerships must be built on a shared vision, and operate on common values and principles for us to see true transformation and deliver on our sustainable development objectives.

Late last year, in line with our 50th anniversary here in Malaysia we launched the Connected Mangroves initiative. To make the project truly successful, we partnered with a local NGO who highlighted the current need, a private company who worked with us on developing the sensors that were part of our solution to address the need and the local community whom we now work with towards sustaining the solution.

The Connected Mangroves project addresses the following SDGs: #13 Climate Action, # 14 Life Below Water, and #15 Life on Land. Mangroves are an important part of the ecosystem on the nearly 3,000 miles of coastline in Malaysia. They shelter the coastal residents from storm surges, afford some protection from extreme weather, and help to maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystem by acting as the link between the terrestrial landscape and the marine environment.   They also have the potential to cool the climate, since some studies suggest that they can store about 2.5 times as much CO2 as humans produce globally each year.

The problem is that mangroves are being depleted rapidly, not just in Malaysia but across the world. In Sabak Bernam, Selangor, we saw the potential for an ICT solution to help address this problem, and we attached sensors to mangrove seedlings to automatically relay information on soil, water, and other environmental conditions in real time over the mobile network.

Since the implementation of the project, we have seen an increase in the seedlings’ ability to withstand environmental stressors, because the data collected by the sensors now allow the local community to implement corrective actions as needed.

In the past, the mangrove seedlings only had about a 40 percent chance of reaching maturity (>2 years). Based on the results of the last five months, we expect an improvement of 50 percent on the mortality rate of seedlings.

Aside from the immediate positive impact that the project has shown, it also shows the power of partnerships, because we would not have been able to mobilize and sustain this project if not for the knowledge and expertise of each party involved. If not for the close cooperation, mutual understanding and shared vision of all parties, the Connected Mangroves project will not be as successful as it is today.

This further reinforces my belief that partnerships are key towards unlocking the transformative power of ICT. I am very glad that we will be discussing this as part of the WEF ASEAN agenda. I encourage you all to follow the WEF ASEAN this year to learn more about the region and gain insights and ideas on how we can contribute more to achieving the SDGs. #wef #asean16

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