When used properly, digital tools and technologies can act as a catalyst for advancing SDG implementation and help deliver global, local and people impact at scale. Building on this belief and on two previous Geneva SDG Community meetings on digitalization, the SDG Lab convened on December 1st the workshop “Digital transformation for the SDGs: an Ecosystems Approach”, facilitated by Nadim Couchair, founder of the 2030Cabinet.
Bringing together stakeholders from the UN, Academia, Private Sector and Civil Society, as well as government representatives, the workshop posed two questions: how can the expertise of the Geneva SDG Community be leveraged to ensure appropriate use of digital technologies to deliver impact at a local level? And what roles do various actors from the Community play on that mission?
After an introduction on the concept of a “digital-ready” local ecosystem frameworks, the participants were guided through an exercise to get a clearer picture of the different roles they play in the Geneva ecosystem to advance digital transformation, to better map the expertise as well as to identify who might be missing in the room.
Soon emerged the premise that if digital tools and technologies are to be useful in accelerating local impact, local context needs to be carefully considered in their use. Therefore, practitioners & digital enablers could benefit from a framework to help surface the particularities of that local context so that they can design, implement, or select the relevant digital tools and technologies. The second part of the workshop, therefore, focused on the local context and actors, and how their roles might be augmented, enabled, or impeded by digital technologies. The UNDP’s zero-waste food market project in Panama was used as a case-study.
Combining insights from the first and second part, the workshop moved to an in a plenary reflection on what practitioners should look out for and consider so that digital technologies are used appropriately to enable local action. Among the elements mentioned were inclusivity and equality; digital governance and security; doubling efforts and matchmaking; private sector engagement and accountability; social listening; self-sustainability financially and skills wise; measurement and intersectionality.
The participants received new and relevant insights and connections related to the topic, and expressed shared interest to work towards tangible, co-created outcomes of discussions. This will require a deep dive into thematic pillars identified during previous Geneva SDG Community meetings to reflect on its potential in dealing with possible implications of the digital transformation. As a next step, the SDG Lab will work out possible formats to guide these discussions further.