Leveraging Technology for Human Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts forward an integrated, broad and ambitious plan for global action on sustainable development. With such ambitious targets, the need for innovative and disruptive solutions is critical.  These solutions will largely sprout from technology, thanks to the innovations introduced through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Revolution has already transformed how we live. It has reshaped government, commerce, healthcare, mobility, education and livelihoods.

Leveraging Technology for Development was a significant theme highlighted in UNDP Pakistan’s quarterly Policy Publication Development Advocate Pakistan (DAP), in collaboration with the Swiss Development Corporation.  The issue of DAP on ‘Leveraging Technology for Development’ took into account different facets of the ‘Tech Eco-System’ in Pakistan. It analysed how, in essence, technology should serve to complement development. It is crucial that the potential benefits of technology are rooted in a pro-poor development strategy. Hence, technology should not be the means to an end, and instead, it should be the means to the beginning of providing people and governments with the opportunity to empower themselves and allow them to create more meaningful choices.

In collaboration with the Swiss Development Cooperation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a panel discussion moderated by Ignacio Artaza, UNDP Country Director in Pakistan. Key issues addressing the importance and challenges of Technology and its linkages with businesses, Governance and Human Development were discussed with a panel consisting of some key stakeholders from the industry, including Mr. Christian Kapfensteiner, Support to Local Governance (LoGo) Head of Programme, GIZ; Mr. Shehryar Hydri- Secretary-General, P@sha; Mr. Yusuf Hussain – CEO, Ignite-National Technology Fund; Mr. Shahzad Ahmad – Country Director, Bytes4All; Ms. Meena Tariq – Head of Innovation and Strategy, Invest2Innovate; Mr. Mercel Haessler - Team Leader State – Citizen dialogue, GIZ, and Ms. Maria Umar – President and Founder, Women's Digital League.

The issues discussed entailed, the emerging ‘digital revolution’ and its implications on the development and its indicators.

Along with the potential to provide disruptive solutions on a large scale, new technologies bring their own sets of challenges and opportunities. What impact will these technologies have on inequalities, poverty, jobs and wellbeing? How can these innovations aid in overcoming our development challenges? With commercial goals, how can we combine the social impact of new technologies? These are all critical questions to consider and address with the increasing infusion of technology.

“Pakistan is experiencing an ever-changing landscape. As a developing country with changing dynamics, the space to welcome new and diverse opportunities is increasing. According to the Global Innovation Index 2017, Pakistan’s rank improved from 119 out of 128 countries in 2016, to 113 out of 127 in 2017. By utilising its robust youth bulge, the country can accelerate on the path towards innovation-based technologies and breakthroughs, provided supporting mechanisms are available/provided,” said Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan.

In technology lie several development solutions. If harnessed effectively, the power of technology could transform the lives of poor people and offer breakthrough development opportunities.

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