More than two-thirds of the UN's targets for sustainable development can benefit directly from digital technologies, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organizers of SDG Digital.
The SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda, a global analysis of the connections between digital technologies and sustainable development, was released as part of SDG Digital to provide a roadmap to governments on their digital transformation journey and to promote action and financing.
“With only a fraction of the SDGs on track at the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda, it is urgent to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can build their own digital futures," said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin along with UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in the foreword of the SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda.
“When you look at these game-changing digital solutions, you can see the actual building blocks that can drive us toward universal and meaningful connectivity," said Bogdan-Martin. “This is how we can — and will — work together to ensure our shared digital future is inclusive, sustainable, and safe and responsible — and to do it in this decade."
“We turn to the future with the launch of SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda, which is a call to action. It's a call to action that contains a road map for navigating challenges as diverse and critical as digital skills, governance, regulation, financing, infrastructure and security, explained Bogdan-Martin.
According to UN assessments, progress on half of the 169 SDG targets is either weak or insufficient at the 2030 Agenda's halfway point. 30% of the SDG targets have either stalled or gone in reverse.
The Agenda features digital solutions that are already demonstrating how tech can directly benefit 119 of the 169 SDG targets, or about 70%, including areas such as climate action, education, hunger and poverty.
Data in the SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda show that countries that improved their digital maturity — as measured by digital affordability and infrastructure indices — outpaced their peers in SDG progress for selected income levels.
Also read: Technology and the SDGs: A Path Forward
SDG Digital highlights that the funding gap of over $3.7 trillion for the SDGs should focus international efforts on enablers — such as infrastructure and connectivity — as well as the pooling of resources through collaboration, including the private sector, and the utilization of diverse financing methods.
Earlier in the week, the ITU announced a decline in the number of people worldwide without a connection to the Internet to 2.6 billion people in 2023 from 2.7 billion in 2022.
Statistics on the global offline population are important for tracking connectivity, the foundation of using technology for sustainable development. At the current trend, the global targets for universal and meaningful connectivity are unlikely to be met by 2030.