STOCKHOLM – The challenges that the world faces in the twenty-first century are systemic and global in nature. There will be no easy answers to any of them, but one thing is clear: we need transformative solutions that are scalable. Incremental measures will only distract us from the scope of the challenges that we confront.
One of the best examples of scale is the mobile telecommunications industry. There are now 6.4 billion mobile phone subscriptions, with the number expected to increase to 9.3 billion by 2017 or 2018. Ericsson estimates that by 2018, 85% of the world’s population will have access to mobile-broadband coverage via 3G networks, and 50% will have 4G. In this context, the near ubiquity of mobile networks has created a new paradigm for sustainable development, putting technological advances at the forefront of policymaking.
Technology is enabling us to share, collaborate, and exchange knowledge in entirely new ways, creating a dynamic shift in mindset. A new society – what we call the Networked Society – is emerging. And in the Networked Society, we have an obligation to ensure that we exploit mobile and broadband technologies not just for collaboration and entertainment, but also for sustainable development.
Connectivity is a basic enabler of economic growth and improved quality of life, and there is a strong business case for investing in broadband to optimize the delivery of essential services in education, health care, safety, and security, and to redefine urban landscapes through intelligent electricity grids and more efficient transportation.