On September 25th, 2015 a number of countries united to establish a set of goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. These goals constitute part of a new sustainable development agenda with each goal having specific targets to be achieved over the next fifteen years. In order to make these goals a reality all stakeholders, i.e. government, the private sector, civil society and individuals like you and me, are required to play their part.
In September 2016, the Mobile Industry became the first industry to wholly commit to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The GSMA represents the industry and in September 2016 they published the Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals. The report assessed the industry’s current impact in achieving the SDGs and now it is focused on increasing its contribution to these goals.
This focus was strengthened on 27 February 2017, when the GSMA and the United Nations Foundation used the Mobile World Congress platform to announce the establishment of their newly formed partnership – “Big Data for Social Good”. The partnership centres on applying the use of data for good, specifically supporting the UN’s SDGs. “Better use of the data generated from digital technology has the potential to accelerate work toward achieving the SDGs to save more lives, empower more women and create a more inclusive digital society,” President and CEO of the UN Foundation, Kathy Calvin, was quoted saying during the announcement of this partnership.
Some of the areas the new partnership will explore collaboration on include;
- Convening: the GSMA and the UN Foundation will convene representatives from the mobile industry, development community and policymakers who will work together in addressing the barriers standing in the way of using big data for good.
- Research & Advocacy: the organisations will share research and insights on a continual basis whilst also researching the best practices for using big data in tracking progress in achieving the SDGs which will in turn, inform joint work and advocacy efforts.
- In-Country Collaboration: the partners will explore possible opportunities for joint engagement on in-country projects where GSMA members and the UN Foundation’s Alliances see alignment around data for good efforts.
This program is being launched with 16 of the world’s leading mobile operators who together, account for two billion connections across more than one hundred countries. The big data capabilities of all these operators will be leveraged through this project, in order to address humanitarian crises such as epidemics and natural disasters. This commitment by the mobile industry is very heartening. The results from the big data, technology that we have represents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positively contributing to the SDGs and is probably the strongest weapon we have in transforming our world.