The SDGs: from pilot projects to global transformation
Last week I attended the Internet of Things (IoT) week in Geneva, where the seminars were structured around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I took part in the panel session “How IoT can contribute to SDG #9 (Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure)”, where I had the opportunity to explain Ericsson’s view of the role that ICT plays in accelerating the SDGs. Our latest sustainability and corporate responsibility report describes various examples of projects around the world that underpin our vision, including Connect to Learn in Iraq (SDG #4), Connected Mangroves in Malaysia (SDG #13) and Water quality monitoring in the USA (SDG #14). In my presentation at IoT week, I chose to highlight a few of the reference projects that are currently running in the Netherlands. Ericsson in the Netherlands is involved as sponsor and co-developer of the new Solar Car of the University of Eindhoven. The previous solar car (Stella Lux, an award-winning model) proved to be energy-positive – that is, it generates more energy than needed for average daily car usage. Following up on this, Ericsson is developing the platform to enable the solar car to give energy to the grid. Another example is Ericsson’s involvement in the Dutch program “Beter Benutten”. This program is led by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and aims to improve traffic flows. Together with consortium partners, Ericsson is developing a platform to enable connected traffic lights that enable in-car notification of waiting times and recommended speed. A third example is the City of Tilburg, where Ericsson has implemented a pilot to monitor air and water quality in a specific city district. The data is represented on a website in dashboard format, so that all citizens have transparent access to real-time data showing their neighborhood conditions of living. These are examples of proof of concepts that have huge potential to scale up. IoT is still in an early stage, but we predict an exponential market growing to 18 billion connected IoT devices by 2022. And this will definitely accelerate all of the SDGs. The private sector will play a key role in scaling up the various pilots and initiatives around the world. There is an ever increasing awareness among companies about the importance of sustainability, and the SDGs in particular. Earlier this year, for example, I attended the Sustainability Summit organized by the Economist. This year’s theme was “Scaling up action”, in reference to the SDGs. And last month, I was invited by a Dutch university to host a workshop for the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector. The theme was integrating the SDGs in the company strategy. A lot is happening in sustainability, and every initiative counts. Every company and individual can contribute, either at local level or broader. Scaling up is necessary for a global transformation.