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Development’s Digital Divide

On September 25, world leaders will gather in New York to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals. And yet, in a time of profound scientific and technological change, the SDGs remain remarkably conventional.

STOCKHOLM – On September 25, world leaders will gather in New York to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs, comprising 17 goals and 169 related targets, are the result of extensive political negotiations, and will set the benchmarks over the next 15 years for achieving the international community’s overarching objective: to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.”

The SDGs are noble and certainly ambitious. And yet, in a time of profound scientific and technological change, they remain remarkably conventional. Information technology – this century’s defining social and economic development – receives only a brief mention (in one of the sub-targets). Nowhere in the document is there even a hint of the revolutionary role that the nascent explosion in connectivity, information, and data could play in ending poverty.

There can be no doubting the impact that information technology will have on economic growth. Governments, politicians, and international organizations must harness the potential of the Internet to serve global development and individual empowerment.

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