The 2018 session of the UN Economic and Social (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum, organized 4 April 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York city, took place under the theme “Partnerships for promoting opportunities, increased prosperity and sustainable development for all” and discussed SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and the role of partnerships.
This year, the focus was on how the private sector can foster inclusive and innovative business models for women, youth and vulnerable groups – in the morning – and the role of the private sector in harnessing the potential of big data – in the afternoon -.
The discussion was wide ranging. Bob Wigley, chair of UK Finance, outlined how he sees blockchain technology reducing corruption in the development process effectively making development funds go further. Reducing corruption in development and engaging the private sector is part of the UN strategy for achieving the SDGs.
In addition to blockchain, Wigley also touched on the role of technology in reducing waste specifically biodegradable plastic. There was extensive discussion on the role of cloud computing and its use in capacity building initiatives in Africa. A comment during the open discussion was that none of this is possible without electricity. As reference, In terms of those at risk of being left behind, according to the World Bank 78 % of the World’s poor live in rural areas and up to 80% of those lacking access to electricity live in rural areas.
The afternoon session on Big Data for the Global Good was moderated by Robert Kirkpatrick Director of UN Global Pulse. He briefly outlined some of the work of the Pulse Labs and some of the projects. The afternoon began with a discussion of big data and the tremendous amount of digital data being collected from cell phones to satellites and how it could be used. Zolli described the work at Planet Lab; Planet images the entire World every day!
In addition to examples of successful uses of big data, there was discussion of the the security and privacy issues that must be resolved particularly where there would be sharing of data between private and public entities.
Report by Dr. William Kelly, member of the WFEO UN Relations Committee (WURC) and ASCE’s Committee on Sustainability.
For more information:
ECOSOC Partnership Forum webpage
ECOSOC President Maria Chatardova opening remarks
UN Global Pulse Robert Kirkpatrick presentation