RFSD Session on Technology 2019

Focus event on “technology, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, curse - or blessing for sustainable development?” of UNECE’s Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

Dear all,

My name is Ena Peeva, I’m a co-founder of Eduactive, a social enterprise with legal office in Italy, working with young people in Latin America, Africa and the Balkan Area. Eduactive is entirely led by people under 30, and we are working on providing quality education and facilitate the entrance to job market of young people, through concrete interventions, that also include technology, digitalisation and artificial intelligence. When we decided to found Eduactive, year and a half ago, we were driven by what is in core of the Agenda 2030, the 17th Sustainable Development Goals. The role of youth in the Agenda 2030 is essential, so they can trigger for all actors to approach a 3D sustainable development- environmental, social and economic-that will eventually integrate into a universal and visionary action plan for global cooperation on the SDGs.

Today, I am here to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism and to share the main message on the issue on stake, raised during the CSO pre-meeting.

Technology, digitalization and artificial intelligence are not only transforming sustainable development, but they are transforming our everyday life. During these two days in Geneva, I have rented a flat from a company that does not own flats and I have used transport services from a company that does not own any cars, nor give any direct employment and decent work conditions to the drivers. This is the direct influence of technology and digitalisation on our everyday lives in the developed World, but are we actually ensuring that this unprecedented technological transformation, is in reality not only widening the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and fuelling even greater inequalities both between and within countries?

Recalling the statement of my colleague during the opening session, we urge governments to create such policies that will boost the use of technology toward sustainable development, but at the same time will ensure that no one is left behind. Even more important, we urge the private sector, SME and big corporations, to engage actively by helping the least advantaged to be able to act through technology and not create even wider digital division.

My name is Lejla and I am a 17-year-old high school student from Bosnia and Herzegovina, majoring in Information Technology. Alumni of the summer school of Android programming course, for 3 years now, I have been developing different projects that included backend programming and web development, game design, graphic design and robotics. Through the ITGirls initiatve I have got a chance, together with my team, to create our first mobile application that is helping young people understand and get more enthusiastic when it comes to STEM education, as a key for finding solution on current social problems, and achieve the SDGs using the technology as a tool that will help us achieve the agenda 2030 and leave noone behind.

Ecosystems for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship are being created on a daily basis in countries around the world, starting from the most developed one, all the way to the least developed one.

Young people are using innovation, in order to create new job places and put their passion into action. Governments and local authorities are creating incentives and boosting the technological change in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Technology, digitalisation and AI should start representing gatherers, that will nourish our society with faster ways to achieve sustainable development across the Globe and it is up to policymakers to leverage these technological developments for good, and to mitigate their risks.

The benefits and risks of technology for sustainable developments are here, we are all responsible to work together in ensuring that these do not represent only trigger for profit rise and bring us backwards in development, but rise for change effective immediately, where the main aim of technology, digitalisation and AI, will be to primarily solve social problems, and not widen even more the gap.

I thank you for your time and attention.