Technology may be the deciding factor for the world to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in delivering human security for all. While being critical for human progress, technology’s positive impact potential depends on how it is used. And the question of responsible use is becoming more and more important as technology is embedded ever deeper into our economies, our societies, and our daily lives through digitization.
The world is not on track to achieve the SDGs and provide human security with as much as US$195 trillion now needed up to 2030, out of an estimated capital stock of US$450 trillion. Technology can bridge this gap and reduce the cost to fund the SDGs by US$55 trillion, solving for c.40% of the SDGs, being key to 103 of the 169 targets associated with the SDGs.
I. A World Torn by the Security and Sustainability Transition
Human security has risen to the top of the agenda in a year of war, recession, an unresolved pandemic, inflation leading to a global cost of living crisis, geopolitical tension, environmental disasters, mass migrations and declining democracy. This has undermined the global effort to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with governments reallocating attention and resources away from long-term sustainability to managing near-term risks.
II. Technology is Key to Meeting the SDGs
Technology and innovation have played a fundamental role in all major transitions in human history. Information technology, in particular, is transforming the global economy and society as a whole as industries and communities become increasingly digitized and value migrates online. Given its transformative potential, information technology has a critical role in driving secure sustainable development, both in terms of basic impact and in terms of targeted innovations addressing specific goals.
III. Technology Establishing a Common Ground as a Force for Good
Given the tech sector’s size and influence, there is a growing expectation from stakeholders for it drive positive social impact in the world as a ‘force for good’. The leaders of the tech industry have clearly understood these expectations and have responded with a wide range of initiatives being executed across ESG, sustainability and stakeholder engagement.
IV. Breaking New Ground Through Innovation
A subset of tech sector leaders is breaking new ground in their ambition to have a positive impact on the world as a force for good, differentiating themselves from their peers in the process. Over time, these initiatives set these leaders up for superior value creation and the most engaged and radical companies will themselves be fundamentally transformed by the efforts, establishing the DNA for successful technology companies of the future.
V. Technology to Build the Future
Technology and technologists have the potential to be the catalysts, if not drivers, of a new era where the SDGs are met and NetZero too. At current rate of progress however, our key global sustainability goals will be missed, indicating that a change in strategy is urgently needed. In the absence of radically cutting back consumption and reducing our standard of living, the world’s sustainability challenges can only be met by continued innovation which drives both continued economic growth and the long-term transition to the Digital Age.
Appendix: Companies, Acknowledgements, Methodology, Notes
The dataset used in this report consists of publicly available quantitative and qualitative sources of information, covering a granular analysis of tech industry leaders' ESG, sustainability and stakeholder initiatives and policies. The information outlined was collected for a total of 100 institutions listed in this appendix using the methodologies described therein.