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Young to take the digi-lead on sustainability

Digitalization is a powerful tool that can help us achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are optimistic, inspired by opportunities and ready to take on the world. By DNV GL Technical Trainee Anne Aune.  

In September, world leaders adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). September also marked a milestone in DNV GL. New CEO Remi Eriksen launched the 2016-2020 corporate strategy, resulting in “digitalization” becoming the new buzz word in DNV GL’s corridors. September also marked my first year in DNV GL.

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Young and optimistic – with the drive to make things happen
The Global Opportunity Report 2015 revealed young people below 30 are most optimistic about opportunities to solve the world’s most pressing challenges: unsustainable urbanization, non-communicable diseases, lock-in to fossil fuels, extreme weather, and lack of fresh water. Don’t underestimate the power of this optimism – it’s a strong motivator, which can lead to lasting engagement – driving action and results. Young people are perfectly suited to lead the opportunistic transition to a sustainable future.

Digitalization now shapes the future
Digitalization is a very techy term, and one that tends to be dismissed to the realms of nerds and tech-heads. It doesn’t grab the mainstream attention it deserves. Digitalization is shaping the future, and we should engage in its development to utilize its full potential.

For instance, digitalization enables us to draw ‘smart’ data out of big data. Through digitalization we can integrate software to increase availability, operating efficiency, and affordability . We can standardise systems and procedures, and thereby decrease complexity. We can even enhance communication in the distribution chain, meaning that manufacturer, retailer, and consumer have more influence on the total value chain. We can achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals by being smart.

Digitalization is a perfect tool for doing business in a resource-constrained world. Take for example a smart city, offering integrated and sustainable urban services, resulting in higher energy efficiency, better transport solutions and more intelligent means of communication[1]. This is one solution to the SDG #11 to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”.

Transparency and trust win
The SDGs address critical world issues. To this end, I would dare to say that transparency has never been more relevant. One aspect of digitalization is the overall improvement of communication, enabling a transparent society. One of the SDGs is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies to develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. With digitalization we can communicate with a larger outreach and lower the barriers of distance – both physical distance, and also the gap in social hierarchies.

We see that a lack of transparency can destroy businesses. Technology can be either an enemy or a friend and it is important that it is used with the purpose of doing good. With social media there are fewer places to hide and digitalization can in many ways improve trust in business and society at large.

Sharing is caring
Alongside better integrated systems and increased transparency, a greater reliance on sharing is another expected outcome of digitalization. All facets of society will become more dependent on each other’s products, services, policies, strategies and more, in which the ability to share will be a vital factor for success. Sharing can be made more efficient by taking part in digital platforms. As systems become more data interdependent, the demand for exchange of information will increase; and the willingness to share will become an indispensable asset.

In all these trends, digitalization can take you in the right direction. The SDGs are the goals, digitalization is the tool and sustainability the ultimate outcome. We are young and optimistic, inspired by the opportunities inherent in the UN Sustainable Development Goals – and ready to take the digi-lead on sustainability.

[1] European Commission

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