From MDG to SDG, with help of ICT: Sachs shows the way

This article talks about professor Jeffery D Sachs’ (of Columbia), idea of moving away from the MDG’s and towards the SDG’s, the sustainable development goals. Sachs is optimistic about the role of ICT’s in sustabinable human development and has a different take on the way they can be implemented than does Heeks.

The 4 pillars of the SDG’s are,  “ending extreme poverty, ensuring environmental sustainability, social inclusion (such as gender equality, jobs, happiness) and good governance” (Nalin).

According to Sachs, in order to:

End extreme poverty he thinks that e-health is a vital way to share health information, and that this is an aspect of ICT that should be focused on. Furthermore he says,  “education holds the key to any development process and we should see to it that there are more virtual classrooms to provide a good platform to share smart ideas and enhancing the reach” (Nalin).

In terms of Environmental sustainability: Sachs said that,  “agrarian ecology, transportation, telepresence, smart grids in checking and enhancing efficiency, metering and integration of renewable, green buildings, remote sensing and emergency responses can be integrated through ICT resulting into a cleaner and greener environment” (Nalin). Here, he throws out a plethora of environmental terms and says that if they are somehow integrated, they will pave the way for a cleaner environment, yet he fails to describe exactly how he foresees this occurring.

In terms of the role of ICT in terms of good governance  Sachs says this, “can already be seen in various parts of the world as people now mobilize through various social platforms present on the social media” (Nalin). Here, I think this is a legitimately good example, as we have seen social networking websites contribute in spreading democratic ideals and messages which lead to the Struggle for better governance and the mobilization in Tunisia accelerating the Arab Spring.

Sach’s idea centers around the idea of sustainable human development, but he does not mention the sustainability of the ICTs that he proposes to integrate into developing societies.  I’m not quite sure if his ideas are practical. Are virtual classrooms realistic in the majority of developing countries? Would that laundry list of environmental sustainability though various ICTs actually be implemented? Will the people ACTUALLY use the above-proposed technologies?


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