UN Adviser highlights critical role mobile industry will play in promoting, advancing and measuring the Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Secretary-General Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Dr. David Nabarro encouraged and commended the mobile industry’s commitment to work together and develop policy frameworks, services, content and technical standards that would ensure no one is left behind.

Delivering Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement at the Mobile World Summit in Barcelona on Monday, Dr. Nabarro said, “As we embark on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, I count on your industry to work with Governments and the international community to expand connectivity, lower barriers to access and ensure that tools and applications are developed with vulnerable communities in mind.”

He also urged all attendees to work together to close the digital and gender divide and to collaborate on accelerating a data revolution for sustainable development, in particular, to enable the responsible use of big data for humanitarian and development purposes, while protecting individual privacy.

The Mobile World Summit brought more than 400 business leaders, government officials and board members of mobile operators and vendors to explore the socio-economic impact of mobile technologies on individuals, businesses and governments around the world. Under the theme of “Connecting Everyone and Everything for a Better Future, the Summit focused on actions all stakeholders could take to collectively address the challenge of connecting the billions of currently unconnected individuals to deliver a range of life-enhancing and life-changing services.

Mobile phone technology has already transformed societies around the globe, even in the poorest countries and communities by creating jobs, spurring financial independence, improving education and promoting better health.

By 2020, approximately 3.8 billion men and women across the developing world will be connected to the internet via mobile, but 40 per cent of that population will still lack access.

“The digital divide remains a yawning gulf that leaves the poor, those living in rural areas, and a disproportionate number of women – stranded on the wrong side. Mobiles do not merely contribute to development – they are an important dimension of development,” stated Dr. Nabarro.

He also noted the SDGs included a gender equality goal which calls for women’s use of technology to achieve women’s empowerment and advance gender equality.

Women still lag behind in access to mobile technology and the internet and especially in their sophistication of use of these tools.

The United Nations Global Pulse initiative has demonstrated how the data produced by mobile phones can be used to map and curb the spread of hunger and disease, inform crisis response and understand the impacts of climate change. According to the Global Pulse, real-time information to stay ahead of emerging risks, respond more effectively to crises, and keep progress on track is critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Nabarro is working with Member States and other relevant stakeholders to galvanize action on implementation of the Agenda. The 2030 Agenda was unanimously adopted by world leaders at a historic UN summit last September and integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.

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