Why climate action and digital inclusion were at the heart of the UN General Assembly
September 23 2022
This Friday, we wind down the conversations around the UNGA. But the conversations around the important issues at the heart of these days continue on. For climate action, the next big moment will be COP27 in Egypt in November. I can already guess from the conversations this week that there will be a lot of focus on adaption, climate finance and how do we keep momentum, despite of other global issues. For education and the digital divide, there are a number of days coming up, from World Teacher Day, to the Day of the Girl. Our powerful partnerships continue:
Our partnership with @Ericsson supporting @UNICEF @Giga exemplifies how two organizations can accelerate digital connectivity in schools. At @UNGA Ericsson highlighted the importance of private sector engagement to support universal connectivity.#TransformingEducation— Carla Haddad Mardini كارلا (@CarlaUNICEF) September 20, 2022
I'll sign off from this week, with a fantastic summary of our focus from Mats:
Join @ericsson of @matsps live discussing the the impact of digitalization on the climate crisis with @nick_nuttall— We Don't Have Time (@WeDontHaveTime) September 20, 2022
💬 Watch the discussion live from #ClimateWeekNYC: https://t.co/nhQNYK0kzB@WeDontHaveTime pic.twitter.com/wCXcNU03b0
September 22 2022
It's been a few days since the end of the Transforming Education Summit, where United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that education is in a deep crisis.
“I regard myself as a lifelong student…Without education, where would I be? Where would any of us be?”, he asked those gathered in the iconic Generally Assembly Hall. Because education transforms lives, economies and societies, “we must transform education."
Our Zohra Yermeche, head of Ericsson's global flagship education program, reflected on three lessons from the Summit--read it here!
Important and timely news today- strengthening our partnership with Smart Africa.
The Smart Africa Secretariat and Ericsson have entered a collaboration that will support Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA)’s mission of promoting digital transformation across Africa through education and capacity development. The collaboration is aimed at enhancing digital skills of an initial target group of senior officials from ministries and regulatory authorities, in charge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by availing of the Ericsson Educate program. The program is expected to later extend to the youth, students, and professionals, particularly educators.
I’m not sure we can say UNGA reached a peek yesterday when US President Joe Biden made a 30 minute speech to the United Nations General Assembly, but we can definitely say that the traffic in NYC did!
President Biden focused his speech on the Russian invasion, with just a few mentions of climate change, touting his administration’s new climate law as a “global game changer.”
And then he was gone—and unfortunately not to the U.N. climate roundtable hosted on Wednesday afternoon by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Afterwards, Guterres emerged to make a brief public statement in which he described the goal of holding warming temperatures to 1.5 C as “failing fast.”
Another discouraging moment was watching World Bank President David Malpass on stage at the New York Times event, being asked about whether he accepted the scientific consensus on climate change. “I don’t know,” he said, “I’m not a scientist.”
So far, the most empowered speeches on climate were from leaders whose countries have been most affected by it.
Philip Edward Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, The Bahamas, spoke on the same panel as David Malpass: “We speak about climate justice—and perhaps it is time to reframe it. I call it enlightened self-interest. If we continue on the path that we are, we will become climate refugees—which will have political and economical issues.”
Throughout all of this, I am reminded of what Helen Clarkson said on day one—that the stories of jut doom and gloom are not helping anyone. I also am thinking of a great conversation that Ingmar R, founder of our fantastic partner We Don’t Have Time, kicked off on LinkedIn yesterday about the “communication crisis” around the climate movement. He wrote:
“The climate movement desperately needs another story. Things like "The end is near!", "It is not good enough", "They are only greenwashing" or, "We are all gonna die", "It's their fault!", "I want justice now", "do something!" does not work. We have tried, but it is not engaging enough people. It is not winning elections, it s not moving things fast enough in the right direction. We need to realize this and change tactics. The climate movement itself must change, or we will lose.”
It's a great conversation if you want to follow along here on LinkedIn.
As a communicator, this is something I will focus on. Very often during this week, I have felt myself lucky to be nowhere near the smartest person in the room—it’s been dizzying to try to keep up with the experts who know the issues through and through and can cite statistics and scientific studies at the drop of a hat. It’s inspiring but also humbling—how can I, as an individual with my respective skills and talents, ever be able to contribute?
This climate communication crisis is something small I can focus on. I’m sure everyone, no matter their skills, passions and interests, can help contribute to climate action. This is not something we are going to ever do alone.
September 21 2022
We've had fantastic conversations today, really emphasizing the power of partnerships.
First in the morning was a conversation between Angela Baker, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, and Heather Johnson, Ericsson, about some of the partnerships the two companies have worked on together. There was a focus on a recent project the Philippines , which is part of Ericsson’s Connect to Learn initiative , is supported by Qualcomm Incorporated through its Qualcomm® Wireless ReachTM program, that aims to bring advanced wireless technologies to the people and communities who need it most. We'll share more about that a bit later around upcoming World Teacher Day!
We’ve also been working with partners from the UNESCO Global Education Coalition, namely a global NGO called Technovation, to promote digital skills for girls across the globe, providing Ericsson employees with the opportunity to mentor hundreds of girls to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology.
Today, we were joined in the Ericsson office with Rebecca Anderson, Senior Program Director at Technovation to talk about the partnership, and also the importance of the conversations about education during UNGA this week.
Zohra agrees, reflecting a bit about the importance of transforming education.
September 20 2022
Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Head of Sustainability, was also all around town today:
From one fantastic climate event to another...heading back uptown we are able to take part in the NY Times Climate Forward event. One of the fantastic speakers was John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, United States. It was fascinating to get a bit of a peak behind the curtain and hear how Kerry is optimistic about an agreement between China and the US on emission reductions could happen soon. As Kerry said,"Climate is not a bilateral issue—it requires every nation to address the issue. If we stop talking about it, we all get hurt."
The climate action focus continues...and I got to listen in on some fantastic conversations. One of them was our own Heather Johnson at the Techonomy Health + Wealth of Our Planet event. Heather had a conversation with Techonomy Founder & Editor-in-Chief David Kirkpatrick. It was a far-ranging converation, covering everything from our own company's journey with sustainability to how ICT can enable emissions reduction for other industries. Heather stressed that it's not a matter of business vs sustainability--it's not an either/or. These things go hand in hand, as they absolutely need to so we can all reach Net Zero.
Other fantastic speakers at the Techonomy event were Katica Roy, Gender Economist and CEO of Pipeline Equity, who spoke about gender equity and its importance in climate action which was incredibly enlightening. For example, A 2017 Brookings Institute study suggests that for every additional year of schooling a girl receives on average, her country’s resilience to climate disasters can be expected to improve by 3.2 points. A 2019 study found that increasing women’s representation in national parliaments leads to the adoption of more stringent climate change policies, resulting in lower emissions. At the local level, the participation of women in natural resource management is associated with better resource governance and conservation outcomes. In short, to reach our climate goals, we need everyone in the room—and not just the men.
Lots of focus on climate action today! Our Head of Sustainability Mats Pellbäck Scharp is joining the Solutions House with Exponentian Roadmap and Google. Described as a place where "leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, youth activists, storytellers, innovators and influencers will gather with one objective: drive exponential climate solutions," the motto of the day is ‘answers only’. Mats joined this morning to help launch the upgraded 1.5 Business Playbook v.2.0. The playbook gives businesses of any size the 4 Climate Pillar strategy to create value while decreasing their emissions--an important step on the road to Net Zero!
Still thinking about some of the conversations I had yesterday with the Youth Peacemakers from WPDI. I got a chance to ask Ajwok Mary Valentino from Uganda about what she would like to say to the world leaders meeting at the United Nations General Assembly not far away if she had the chance. Her answer will stay with me.
September 19 2022
When I wasn't listening to fascinating speakers today at Climate Week NYC, I was at the Ericsson NYC Office, meeting even more fascinating people.
For 10 years, we have been workingwith the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) to help youngsters affected by conflict and violence to foster safer and more productive communities in Africa and Latin America. Founded in 2012, WPDI provides a unique approach to working with young people, including training in mediation and conflict transformation, and developing vocational skills in ICT.
We hosted a group of them in our office today, including 4 youth peacemakers. It was a fantastic opportunity to interview them and hear their stories--so looking forward to sharing their stories soon!
Climate Week NYC started off today, and started off right with Helen Clarkson, CEO of Climate Group, highlighting the three themes we should expect to hear through the rest of the week: accountability, justice and urgency.
“I’m often asked,” she said, “if we are doing good enough to help mitigate the effects of climate change. The simple answer is we are doing good, but we are not doing enough.”
Hence the importance of accountability, justice and urgency, and the importance of the theme of the week: get it done. It is absolutely crucial that we move our focus away from commitments and into action instead.
One thing that really struck me is the effect of how we communicate about climate change. In 2021, researchers with the U.K.'s University of Bath and other schools spoke to 10,000 people in 10 countries, all of whom were between the ages of 16 and 25, to gauge how they feel about climate change.
Of those surveyed, nearly 60% reported that they felt either "very" or "extremely" worried about climate change, and more than half said climate change made them feel "afraid, sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and/or guilty."
Helen Clarkson emphasized that “Doom and destruction does not motivate people.” Instead, we need more hopeful stories about how we can make a difference, instead of making people feel powerless and ready to throw in the towel. That’s one thing I will be taking with me.
Another fascinating speaker was Dr. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization. As interviewed by the moderator, he spoke about the biggest differences we can expect to see when it comes to climate change over the net few years.
He said that the biggest impact will be felt through water. “We will see periods of either drought or extreme flooding, caused by the more humidity thanks to the warming of oceans.” It can be a bit hard to keep the two messages aligned: don’t spread doom and gloom, and yet get ready for extreme differences in water that will affect millions.
September 18 2022
Today, the focus is all about the Broadband Commission.
Working to bridge the digital divide and boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda, the Commission envisions a fully connected world that harnesses the power of broadband to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Following June’s Spring Meeting in Kigali, at the UNGA the Commission will gather in-person for only the second time in more than two years. Our CTO Erik Ekudden is a Comissioner and is joining other leaders in New York with the focus for today on education and the digital divide.
The Transforming Education Summit (TES) continues as well--Heather wrote some reflections in her LinkedIn post :
"Important to be part of the #TransformingEducation Summit in New York during #UNGA, not only to share Ericsson's experience on the ground of connectivity and digitalization as an enabler of sustainable development but also to listen to stakeholders from Heads of State to UN organizations to Youth Advocates.
I was particularly impressed by Manal Moussane, a UN Youth Advocate from the Netherlands. She spoke eloquently about keeping children and youth at the center of all decision-making. It's not only about delivering solutions for transforming education, but co-creating those solutions. It reinforces my strong belief that public-private partnerships like the Giga initiative not only have a common goal--in this case to connect every school to the internet by 2030--but work with #purpose to ensure positive impacts to ultimately empower every student with information, opportunity and choice."
September 17 2022
Society is in the middle of a learning crisis. Even before COVID-19 hit, UNESCO estimated that 260 million children between the ages of five and 16 received no schooling.
COVID-19 exasperated the problem. According to UNICEF, school children around the world have lost an estimated 1.8 trillion hours—and counting—of in-person learning since the onset of the virus, due to lockdowns and imposed isolations.
Of course, many schools tried to transition to remote learning during COVID-19. However in 2020, ITU stated that 369 million young people don’t have access to the internet at all, without the ability to attend school or access remote learning, they were completely isolated from education.
This is one of the key reasons that sparked the creation of this year’s Transforming Education Summit (TES) a critical convening by the United Nations. Bringing together global, national and local education leaders, it offers an opportunity for inclusive and effective global dialogue on what we need to do to progress towards SDG4.
My colleague Zohra Yermeche took part and shared her thoughts on LinkedIn here, writing:
Words of wisdom from the SG himself, from the importance of education to be a factor for reducing inequalities rather than increase them, to be a channel for inspiring cooperation and solidarity rather than competitiveness, as well as the importance of learning how to learn!
The youth on the other hand could not be more vocal and loud about the necessity and urgency to include them in the decision making process at every level: local, regional, national and international. The Youth Declaration launched yesterday is a testament to that commitment and that this young generation means business and is ready to fully contribute to shaping their future!"
September 16 2022
I remember growing up as a kid in New York City and being immensely proud that the United Nations (UN) headquarters was in my city. How cool, I thought, to have leaders gather from all around the world to hash out the most important problems in the world. And how mysterious, all behind closed doors.
Growing up can make you cynical, but still I have always had that same starry-eyed impression of the UN and its role in addressing some of the biggest issues facing the world. That is why I am excited to be joining key Ericsson leaders here on the ground in New York as the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) gets underway.
UNGA 77 brings together leading figures from the world’s governments, enterprises, civil societies, and youth movements, and will also be the first in-person (hybrid) meeting post Covid-19. With the motto “Solutions through solidarity, sustainability and science”, the event is due to run for two weeks.
And the action won’t just be limited to the UN building. In fact, all over the city, several other high-level summits and events will be taking place including the Broadband Commission meeting, Transforming Education Summit (TES), Sustainable Development Impact Meetings (SDI) and NY Climate Week.
Ericsson will be sending four senior representatives to the event to participate in what is expected to be a series of crucial discussions around the climate and learning crisis. As one of the world’s leading ICT companies, Ericsson plays a pivotal role in addressing global challenges and advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Be sure to check in daily to stay up to date on the latest developments live from New York!
Connectivity is 🗝️ to socioeconomic development, yet there are still 2.9 billion people offline.— Ericsson (@ericsson) September 16, 2022
Our CTO @erikekudden will attend 📍 @UNBBCom's Fall Meeting to share what governments and industry players can do to help bridge the digital divide.
#UNGA2022 #SDG17 pic.twitter.com/wjXqFj4H2c
As Group CTO, Erik Ekudden is responsible for setting the direction of technology leadership for the Ericsson Group. Since 2020, Erik has been a member of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. He will be attending the Broadband Commission Fall Meeting during UNGA, where the Commission will focus on “Accelerating broadband for new realities,” with one session dedicated to adapting to new education realities and the other session focused on moving to an affordable and sustainable digital future.
What he’s most looking forward to: Speaking at the Broadband Commission on the importance of speeding up the rollout of modern connectivity for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Heather Johnson is Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility for the Ericsson Group, and will be one of our most important spokespeople on the ground at UNGA. She will be attending a number of panels as part of TES, meeting our partners and joining as a speaker at Techonomy’s Health + Wealth of the Planet event.
What she’s most looking forward to: Meeting partners in New York to discuss how technology and collective action can help create a better, more sustainable future.
Zohra Yermeche is Head of Connect To Learn, Ericsson’s flagship ICT and education program. She will be attending a number of side events of the Transforming Education Summit (TES), focusing on how our collaborations and partnerships are working to address the learning crisis and digital divide.
What she’s most looking forward to: Hearing from and interacting with the youth participating to the first ever TES event to better understand their challenges, ambitions and expectations regarding their education, their future—and their dreams.
Mats Pellbäck-Scharp, Head of Sustainability at Ericsson, will be focusing on the climate action engagements during NY Climate Week.
What he’s most looking forward to: Two important launches that will be happening: the new 1.5°C Business Playbook and SME Climate Hub US.
And what am I most looking forward to? Scrambling to keep up with all the exciting engagement and conversations that will be happening down here in New York! I will be updating this blog post with as much new information and behind the scenes content as possible, so keep your eyes peeled.
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