The Future We Were Promised:

How Technology Can Enable Sustainability

By Rob Cameron

As I wrote in our 30th anniversary issue of Radar we need “all hands on deck” if we are going to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that are so essential for the health of our society and planet, by 2030.

In that article I reflected on the challenge of the past holding up our future. Too often a lack of trust, and even some hostility, between NGOs and business limits the potential for collaboration between the private sector, governments and civil society that will be so essential for achieving the SDGs.

In a recent interview with Dr. Bob Eccles in Forbes I explored another potential barrier to realising the goals - digital technologies not being sufficiently deployed to address critical human needs.

Why so far has digital technology not been adequately concentrated on addressing the world’s most pressing problems?

As I said to Bob: technology and sustainability folk largely live in separate worlds. People working on sustainability and the SDGs don’t have a good sense of what digital technology can enable. AI enabled robotics allows for disassembly and more effective waste sorting. IoT and blockchain can enable the traceability and monitoring of complex, global supply chains. Precision medicine uses genetic and cellular information to predict health conditions to enable more effective treatment and care. Just three examples, from many, of how technology can help meet our global challenges.

Similarly, many people in world of technology are (so far) not tuned into the social needs and opportunities represented by the SDGs. The potential markets for technologies that meet the needs of under-served and vulnerable communities are actually compelling.

We have to bridge this gap in knowledge and understanding and we need to build new connections between the worlds of tech and sustainability. That is why SustainAbility is proud to be working with Arm and others on a new collaboration called 2030Vision. 2030Vision is a platform to highlight needs and opportunities, and forge new partnerships between people working on tech and those working on SDGs. We are delighted to have been able to contribute not only as a founding partner but also to have produced a ground-breaking report that showcases how technology can contribute to each and every goal. 2030Vision is an experiment in collaboration and we are excited to see where it leads.

About the author

Rob Cameron

@Rob_Cameron_

SustainAbility CEO working for just & sustainable future for all and fairness in trade (when not rowing, cycling or skiing).