Technology and innovation are instrumental in transforming the economic structure of a country at various stages of development. They boost productivity and competitiveness and lead to the creation of economic well-being and wealth. The capability to flourish in technology and innovation varies significantly from country to country.
Significant advancement of innovation is likely to be seen in a country where technology is accessible at various levels in all sectors. Technology adoption in all sectors is indispensable for a nation's economic growth. A discussion is delineated in the following about the role of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to Nacho Rivera, a co-founder of ‘The Overview Effect’ organization, technology supports sustainable developments through three means: replacement, optimization, and redesigning.
Firstly, technology replaces the manual process with a more efficient one. For example, traditional paper-based archives are in transition to a paperless one. It saves time, effort, money, and, most importantly, forests. According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) report, we usually lose 18.7 million acres of forest each year to fill the paper demand worldwide.
We can save this large number of forests by just being habituated to a paperless society. Besides, communication is faster these days compared to archaic systems; the collaboration between individuals or departments to work on the same task is much easier, and working from home is now a new normal. All credits go to technology, which is enhancing the world's productivity.
Secondly, technology optimizes the production processes in the industry to increase productivity and reliability. Data-driven decision-making and optimized algorithms benefit the automation process in every sector, particularly in the industries.
Thirdly, redesigning is the process of reinventing a business or service model. For example, people can use shared vehicle services to reduce resource waste and provide more sustainability instead of buying a new car. The ride sharing service model reduces the number of vehicles on the road, suppresses money and fuel waste, and lessens carbon-di-oxide emissions in the environment.
Contemporary trends of technology and their power
According to scientists, emerging technologies like the internet of things and artificial intelligence help to understand the needs of natural capital and biodiversity. These technologies have a handful of uses in solving climate change problems. Arun Majumdar, director of Stanford's Precourt Center, said, "The Internet of Things can help decarbonize our energy system, provide modern energy systems to every human being, manage our infrastructure, and allow us to adapt to and address climate change."
In addition, the prominent communication giant Ericsson company aver in a recent report that Greenhouse Gas emissions will be mitigated by up to 63.5 Giga tonnes, 18% of total emissions, using Information and Communication Technology by 2030.
The internet of things is a wireless network of sensors connecting various devices using wireless technologies. Devices equipped with sensors are deployed in various places to collect data and share them with other devices, software, or databases. It helps machines or devices communicate with each other and make decisions by using big data analysis through artificial intelligence or data science.
This process automates electricity generation and distribution, traffic control, environment monitoring, water management, natural disaster management, smart flood monitoring, air pollution monitoring, radiation detection, utility control to build smart homes or smart cities, waste management, and industrial production management.
For instance, a smart grid system can detect the sudden disruption of electricity and provide resiliency to the electricity distribution system. When any disaster like earthquakes, storms, or solar flares happens, sudden blackouts may heavily affect the communication systems, banks, hospitals, and industries.
In this situation, the smart grid systems can immediately allow instant rerouting of power distribution channels in these institutions and can minimize the power outage. It can support a quick recovery after the disaster and make the system more resilient.
Policies to support technological advancement for a sustainable future
Technology impacts five significant goals of the Sustainable Development Goals: food, health, energy, water, and manufactured goods. Innovations in these domains can lead to the betterment of the world's sustainable future. Ensuring the deployment and accessibility of technology at various levels of development nationally and globally can lead to more innovations across the globe.
Studies or research should be conducted to reinforce the global innovation system, including institutional innovation and policy intervention. We are now at a stage where technology is pressing towards solving significant sustainable development challenges. Individual initiatives and institutional support can lead to a greater green revolution and make the world a better place.
The writer is a Research Associate, Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM)
Source: Sun Editorial