The role of Information and Communication Technologies in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 11

Text by Ranjula Bali Swain, Visiting Professor at Misum specialized in sustainable development, sustainable energy, sustainable innovation, microfinance and development economics. Ranjula reports back from The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 for Sustainable Development that took place in July 2018 at United Nations in New York.

Follow Ranjula on twitter: @ranjbali

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SDG 11 focuses on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The increasing urbanization rates and growing use of ICT has the potential to promote inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. Rapidly growing ICT infrastructure, digital mobile devices and connected users offer opportunities to local government, private sector and civil society, to innovate in provision of services to promote and accelerate sustainable development and support all SDGs.

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The session included speakers from academics, high-level UN officials and the civil society. Discussing the ‘smart’ in the smart cities, Chaesub Lee (Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU) described it as presence of technical elements of collaborative knowledge, compatibility, integrity, interoperability and interconnectivity. Lee stressed the need for local solutions for cities while mapping the culture of the city to SDGs. Professor Eugenie Birch, University of Pennsylvania pointed that the language of SDGs was not the language of the cities. Quoting from their study of US cities, Birch added that they had to insert the SDG agenda into existing local government plans where possible.

Before employing ICTs in implementation of SDG 11, Warren Feek, Executive Director, The Communication Initiative, stressed the need for deliberative thinking on the objective, the principle and identify natural public spaces. Feek discussed the need for using ICTs as a freely available public utility, media watch dog and as a tool for amplifying the voices in the natural public spaces to impact policy-making. He suggested that potential areas in which ICTs could be employed were: public dialogue and debate, gender, peace process, human rights etc.

Claudio Acioly, Head of Global Capacity Development Unit and Senior Housing Expert, UN-Habitat identified ICT as an important tool for local e-governance that could be used for monitoring and reporting on the SDGs with greater transparency and accountability.

Overall the session remained focused on governments with little discussion on how ICTs could be employed by private sector, civil society, consumers or netizens (citizens of the internet).

Written by Ranjula Bali Swain, a Visiting Professor at Misum specialized in sustainable development, sustainable energy, sustainable innovation, microfinance and development economics. She reports back from The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 for Sustainable Development that took place in July 2018 at United Nations in New York.

Follow Ranjula on twitter: @ranjbali

 

 

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