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There’s no Planet B

Together with our CEO Hans Vestberg,on Saturday morning, I attended the first meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

The network was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on August 9, 2012 to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic problems.

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York in the US, and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), was appointed to drive the network. At the meeting, his message was clear: the United Nations cannot take on this task alone– “the world needs innovation, leadership and first movers.”

This initiative is part of the work undertaken in response to the mandate for the post-2015 agenda– meaning the development goals that should be set after 2015, when the MDGs will have been realized –and to the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.

The opening remarks by Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson set the tone of the meeting and our work: “There is no plan B, because there is no Planet B.”

The mission of the SDSN is no small task: the creation of an action agenda based on science, facts and the collective will of its members. On September 22 in New York, some 60 or so climate experts, UN representatives, NGOs and private sector sat around the table, challenged with the following tasks in the coming year:

• To provide objective evidence and respond to requests such as those relating to the post-2015 agenda
• To create working groups to discuss sustainable solutions
• as network participants, help drive the agenda globally
• accelerate new technologies and explore ways to scale up.

From Ericsson’s perspective, the emphasis on scale hits home. Mobile communication and broadband are all about scale. Worldwide, the total number of mobile broadband subscriptions has grown to 6 billion in just 25 years, and as Vestberg said: “the number of people with access to the internet will triple in the next five years . The Networked Society enables the use of technology to be applied in many ways for sustainable development.”

We at Ericsson look forward to actively participating in the SDSN and its working groups– and being a part of the group’s collective realization that there is no Planet B.

Written by Elaine Weidman-Grunewald

Elaine Weidman Grunewald is Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson. She joined Ericsson in 1998, and she is responsible for a number of public private partnerships which explore the use of Technology for Good, i.e. the use Ericsson’s core technology to solve some of the world’s most compelling challenges and help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals , including the Millennium villages, Connect to Learn, and Refugees United. She is a leading advocate of Technology for Good and represents Ericsson in a number of external fora including the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and the United Nations Global Compact.