The Digital Age: Inclusivity and Sustainability

 

As the world continues its journey into the abyss of the digital age, there is an increasing need to make technology accessible around the world. Technology brings such a wide variety of benefits and risks. While it can increase productivity and global understanding, it can also lead to exploitation and risk of privacy breaches. Nevertheless, many believe that information and communication technologies or ICTs are the key to achieve sustainable global development.

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Inclusive Classrooms

Education is the first space in which discrimination can occur. Regardless of whether it is because of race, gender, or disability individuals can be subjected to exclusion and fall behind. Amartya Sen notes education as a key as to development and therefore the freedom to choose. Those who lack education are unfortunately penalized in the global economy and this disproportionately affects minorities more than any other group. It should be noted that currently there are 745 million adults worldwide who are illiterate and 114 million young people lack these basic skills as well.

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Conversations at WUF

The World Urban Forum was established in 2001 by the United Nations to create a dialogue of the ever-changing issues associated with urban life and development. The conference, which is organized by UN-Habitat is held every other year in a select city. The main goals of the World Urban Forum are as follows:

  • Raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
  • Improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned and the exchange of best practices and good policies; and
  • Increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization.

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The Future of Cities

Cities play an astonishing role in the global community on multiple levels. Not only do the congregate millions of people within such small parameters, but they are cultural, financial, and educational hubs. Living in a city gives an individual access to a plethora of resources they may otherwise not have access to. Though they provide a large assortment of resources they are the massively unsustainable. Though cities only take up about 2% of global land, they account for more than 60% of global energy consumption, 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, and 70% of global waste according to the New Urban Agenda.

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SDGs & HLPF

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play a critical part in the international conversation on development and global interactions. In 2015, all UN member states adopted the 17 goals, “which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.” The goals cover a variety of issues from education to life below sea; all equally important to the betterment of the planet in both an environmental and human context. Further, what is significant about the SDGs is that they are intended to overlap as all issues are interconnected on some level.

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Development Theory as a Rubik’s Cube

Development as a whole is an area of study that has a diverse set of beliefs and assumptions. Nevertheless, “a common theme within most definitions is that ‘development’ encompasses ‘change’ in a variety of aspects of the human condition” (Sumner & Tribe, 2008, p. 10). What distinguishes the path to this goal is the theories and approaches used to get there. Additionally, what must be considered in development theory is where or not change is considered good or bad on both a short and long term timeline.

Sumner and Tribe identify a three-dimensional puzzle, similar to a Rubik’s cube that encompasses multiple facets of development. Understanding each aspect of this puzzle helps decipher that different views that one can hold on development and how best to approach it. Continue reading

Grand Challenges

            A Grand Challenge is a complex, ambiguous term that embodies the objectives of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While Tom Khalil of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy claims that there is no definition for what constitutes as a Grand Challenge, he provides some guidance for specific characteristics of Grand Challenges (Pescovitz, 2012). Continue reading