The UN, tech giants, and the policy, finance and science communities today teamed up to launch major new pushes on using cutting-edge technology to create cleaner, greener and more efficient solutions to sustainable development.
Key figures from these sectors are joining civil society representatives in Nairobi at the second UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment, meeting for three days in advance of the fourth UN Environment Assembly.
Around 2,000 people – including senior figures from IBM, Google and Barclays – attend the Second Global Session of the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum
The goal of the Forum is to unite influential organizations and individuals from different sectors in the common goal of using the environment sustainably for the benefit of all. This year, the Forum sees the launch of two major initiatives: the first international Working Group on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Convergence and the Green Technology Startup Hub.
“There is no doubt that rapid technological advancement played a major part in the troubles we face,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “But it is that technology – through humanity’s ability to invent and innovate – that can help to save us. The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers a real opportunity to create cleaner, greener and more efficient solutions to sustainable development.”
Forum launches initiatives on using big data, machine learning, and green technology startups, to solve major environmental, economic and social problems
The working group aims to build an open-source platform for big data on the environment, and to explore new spaces in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. It unites tech giants, Earth Observation institutions, the science and policy communities, green tech start-ups, citizen scientists and the worlds of finance and industry.
“We can’t ensure implementation of the 2030 Agenda without concrete data, which allows us to identify opportunities, ensure evidence-based decision making, direct investment and track progress,” said Siim Kiisler, President of the Assembly and Minister of Environment for Estonia. “I am confident that we will make immense progress.”
The Green Technology Startup Hub, meanwhile, will act as an accelerator and incubator of start-up innovation for the environment, as it examines the enabling policies and actions required to use such innovation to transform the world into greener and more sustainable living.
Startups are not only transforming markets and economic growth, some are helping to save the planet. Venture capital investment in startups has surged to its highest level ever – $148 billion last year alone. More than 40 Venture Capital-backed companies have achieved billion-dollar valuations.
Forum also launches work on sustainable cities and food systems, and private sector leadership on climate change
Other new work areas under the Forum will cover sustainable cities and food systems, and private sector leadership on climate change. Potential solutions under consideration include electric mobility and new green building designs, which can maximize efficient use of natural resources and encourage environmentally sound choices. These technologies are critical to our planet’s future, bearing in mind that an estimated 70 per cent of the human population will live in cities by 2050.