UN Global Goals: digital tech can make a difference
by Chris Burgess
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established by the UN in 2000. The eight goals set ambitious targets for improving the quality of life for those in emerging markets, and for tackling social and environmental challenges globally. The MDGs have now been replaced by a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, also called the “Global Goals” announced by the United Nations in September.
As many as 193 world leaders have committed to this new set of 17 goals, which will drive common action towards sustainable development on the planet for the next 15 years. VimpelCom, as part of a broad coalition of governments, businesses, NGOs, civil society organizations and prominent individuals support these goals.
For us, a mobile operator with a diverse and significant footprint across 14 markets, the Global Goals represent a set of sustainable development ambitions where we can make a contribution through the way we pursue our business objectives.
The Goals’ objectives include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. The nature of our services and enabling technology means that we can make a stronger contribution towards some Goals than others. For example, VimpelCom’s Make Your Mark program, focuses on education, and on helping young people turn their ideas into digital businesses – driving employment opportunities and helping directly and indirectly tackle a number of societal issues.
Goal 2 is one example. It calls for society to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” This is an area where VimpelCom contributes, especially in Bangladesh, where we deliver a number of successful mobile-enabled agriculture services. Similarly, Goal 5’s ambition of achieving “gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls” and Goal 4 objective of “inclusive education“ are supported by our mobile literacy program for rural women in remote areas of Pakistan and, more broadly, by our efforts to spread mobile and digital technology as widely as possible in the societies where we work.
At the same time, Goal 9’s call for the building of “resilient infrastructure, promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering of innovation” aligns directly with our core business objective of providing high quality, safe, secure, and affordable mobile services over our networks for the populations we serve.
Even as our objectives and activities already strongly align with the many of the Global Goals, it is the last goal, number 17, which is the most important. This calls for all sectors of society to “strengthen the means of implementation, and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”
It is this call for partnership which presents the opportunity for real breakthroughs. Many intractable problems can only be addressed with the combined resources, expertise, knowledge and drive of business, government and civil society acting together. And this requires willingness to compromise, and to reconsider roles, relationships, policies and prejudices. For VimpelCom, and companies like ours, the value of our technologies and assets can be magnified when combined with the reach and creativity of partners with knowledge of specific problems and the commitment required to solve or transform these problems.
Disrupting our traditional business model and redefining the current world view is the only way to move the world closer to achieving the Global Goals. We are constantly on the lookout for likeminded partners to help us change the world for better. If you share that attitude, please join us. Visit our Global Goals page to find out which opportunities match your vision and get involved.