The Role of ICTs in Sustainable Development

ICTs or Information Communication Technology has a large role to play in inclusive sustainable development. In the Maitland Commission Report, it was found that ICTs were involved in every aspect of development, including health and agriculture. The World Summit on the Information Society (or WSIS) was convened in its two phases in 2003 and 2005 in order to develop a common information society and promote ICTs as enablers to development, as well as try and close some of the digital divides. The WSIS conference in particular shows how ICTs are connected to development, especially development initiatives of the UN such as the SDGs and MDGs. There is a WSIS-SDG matrix that shows how the goals of WSIS can be connected to each sustainable development goal and used to make the goal a reality. The matrix highlights the importance of ICTs in development and shows how they are related to every development goal. The matrix also shows what specific work has been with ICTs and how they connect to the SDGs. For example ICTs have been used to integrate refugees, to help women entrepreneurs, and to map data to allow internet connectivity at schools. These projects all directly connect to SDGs such as SDG 5, SDG 9, and SDG 4.

Not only do ICTs have a role making sustainable development a reality, they can also make sustainable development inclusive. ICTs can make it possible for marginalized populations to participate in development. One of the most clear examples of this is the example of education. SDG 4 is the goal of quality education for all. ICTs make it possible for students who may have trouble coming to the class room such as women or persons with disabilities able to learn and exchange ideas remotely. This dissemination of information that is made possible by ICTs is very critical to other goals as well. With ICTs public health information can be easily spread which relates to SDG 3. One of the recommendations that I make in my capstone project suggest that countries in Latin America develop hotlines and 24/7 television channels that are disability accessible in order to spread sexual and reproductive health information. This use of ICTs allow persons with disabilities to receive important information and know their rights without having to go to a health center or clinic. In this case, ICTs would further SDG 3 and help make reproductive services available to all by 2030.