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UN SDGs “REBOOTED” at the WEF2020 in Davos

January 28, 2020
January 28, 2020
Fátima Sanz de León

To say that Davos has convening power would be an understatement. That power was smartly put to work last week at the World Economic Forum to boost global awareness and commitment towards achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The timing was ideal given that January kicked off the “SDG Decade of Action,” a global push to accelerate sustainable solutions. Progress reports have shown that the SDGs are not on track to be achieved by its deadline. 

Panel discussions about the SDGs took place left, right, and center of the WEF2020. Bringing the SDGs agenda to such a global forum that attracts so many high-level developed economies is a wise strategic move. Not surprisingly, a recent survey* conducted by Ipsos for the WEF finds that awareness of the SDGs is significantly higher in less economically advanced countries. 

Every marathon starts with one step. The first step in this case is global awareness of the SDGs, followed by knowledge of specific use cases, ultimately leading to concrete commitment towards those global goals. All these took place at Davos. 

A tangible response to the plea for more action was evidenced by the launch last week of the SDG500 platform intended to mobilize $500 million to bridge the SDG financing gap. The platform brings together diverse partners, including the UN, and targets businesses in several sectors, including healthcare. Arguing that achieving the SDGs is the most significant business opportunity today, it calls on the private sector to participate. The motto: “profit with a purpose.” 

The dialogue at the WEF2020 positioned the SDGs as the catalyst for “business with purpose.” In other words, finding profitable solutions for global challenges. Business leaders talked about the value that their organizations can bring to a broader variety of stakeholders, not just their shareholders. Ideas and use cases were shared. One could even say that some businesses were in search of a use case in Davos.

The SDGs were the key theme of numerous panel discussions at the SDG TENT and the SDG Media Zone. Both brought together companies and organizations to mobilize action to accelerate change. 

When talking about “accelerators” for change, a large part of the conversations revolved around the opportunity provided by the technological advances of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). How can we use technology to solve societal problems? Not just because of its “hype. And, how do we insert trust and ethics in the process?

Any conversation about 4IR and digital technologies leads to a discussion about “data.” And this was no different at Davos. The technologies driving the 4IR depend on large volumes of data. From the point of view of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the goal is to gather as much data as possible and the more data, the better. From an ethical point of view, regulators are challenged with striking a balance between benefits to society and the amount of data that needs to be collected for that purpose and issues about personal data privacy and confidentiality. 

Questions were raised: How do we put consumers back in control of their own data?. How do we empower and educate consumers so that they can make informed decisions about their data.?

This discussion is especially relevant when talking about personal health data. The perfect example was put forth: If our health insurance knows everything about us, no one will have insurance anymore. Data governance is one fundamental way to address some of these data challenges, particularly where regulation alone has not been able to do so yet. 

The conversation about data governance led naturally to the question about data remuneration. What if we treated data as a commodity? Traded for tokens (digital currency)? Although this may have sounded like science fiction to some, this is real. This is what the start-up I have the privilege to work for is doing, leveraging blockchain technology. My role is to take our technology to low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) to accelerate progress in SDG3, (Health, and Wellbeing) through one of the most innovative forms that our 4ID technology offers. 

The conversation around data governance, data ownership, and data remuneration are close to my heart, not only because of my current work but because I firmly believe that other solutions are often not ethical, let alone sustainable in the long run.

Our vision at CENTIVA HEALTH is to reinvent access to personal health data and to create a fair data economy through innovative incentives. 

Join us in accomplishing that vision- working in partnership towards SDG3. 

For more information, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at: fa@centiva.health

Footnote: * https://www.weforum.org/press/2019/09/global-survey-shows-74-are-aware-of-the-sustainable-development-goals/

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