Administrator Achim Steiner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has stated that new digital technologies are emerging and offering quicker, smarter solutions to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.
The UNDP chief said from artificial intelligence to drones, mobile money, and blockchain, digital innovations were already helping the world address poverty, hunger, climate change, conflict, and disease; adding that the world needs nothing less than to reinvent and reimagine what development looks like in the context of this technological revolution.
Steiner said: “But 49 per cent of the world still lacks Internet access, mostly in developing countries, mostly women, and often in countries emerging from conflict. One of our biggest challenges is getting these game-changing technologies into the hands of those who have been left farthest behind.” He said UNDP’s new digital strategy, which was the first of its kind in the UN system charts a course to leverage digital innovation both inside the organisation and in service lines to countries around the world.
“UNDP with a presence in 170 countries globally, also launched a public online consultation to help identify development challenges and breakthrough digital solutions, some 360 people from 59 countries have responded so far. Top challenges they have identified include the pervasive digital divide, carbon emissions, electronic waste, privacy, and security. Top solutions include awareness-raising, access to quality content, citizen engagement, digital literacy, tree-planting drones, and artificial intelligence for agriculture. The online consultation will continue through 2 October 2019.
“UNDP is already working with partners on the ground to deploy digital technologies for development mapping Mauritius with drones, gauging Philippine citizen feedback with artificial intelligence, and monitoring Mali’s post-crisis recovery with drone photography and satellite imagery. UNDP has also helped launch mobile payment for rural villages in Fiji and 3D printing of prostheses for disabled youth in Honduras. In Maldives, facing a grave threat from rising sea levels and coastal storms, drones are helping island communities prepare for and respond to disasters.
“In Rwanda, UNDP is working with local partners on an experimental project using data and sensors to help farmers predict climate conditions that affect their crops. And in India, in partnership with the GAVI vaccine alliance, UNDP is helping the Government digitize entire vaccine stocks and track their movement,” the statement concluded.