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United Nations: Driving sustainable development by helping business leaders understand new technologies  

In 2016 the United Nations (UN) launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 pledges to overcome some of the biggest challenges the world faces by 2030. Challenges like poverty, inequality and environmental degradation.

Business has the potential to drive progress in those areas. The UN Global Compact (UNGC), the UN’s global business network, has launched ‘Project Breakthrough’. They’re helping business leaders understand new technologies that will bring exciting commercial opportunities – and how those could affect progress towards the SDGs. Our expertise in technology and innovation, and ability to fuse this with practical business design know-how, is at the heart of the project.

The UNGC asked us to identify the technologies most likely to transform business in future. And to explore how those technologies could help businesses do business in a better way – minimising waste to protect the environment or having a positive impact on society for example. Working closely with the UNGC, technical specialists from our network and 150 companies attending the UNGC’s ‘Breakthrough Innovation’ symposium, we agreed on 12 to focus on. These include unmanned aviation systems (drones), robots, the Internet of Things, digital agriculture and gene editing.

We’ve developed a clear, concise briefing for businesses on each. These briefings explain the technical features, point out the potential impact on business models and look at how those could bring the advances needed to meet the SDGs.

We’re now working with the UNGC to develop practical support for businesses so they can take advantage of the opportunities these technologies bring in a sustainable way. The ambition of these innovators – and this support – will be key to a better future for all.

Contact the international development team


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