Innovation – The Key to Achieving the SDGs for A WORLD WE ALL WANT, Part 1

Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Through Innovation - An Introduction to the imperative for business innovation
By:  Job Thomas On November 4, 2021

In this series I will present proven technologies and innovations that can be replicated to achieve SDG Targets.  I will unpack technology and innovation across all the 17 Goals. Innovation is the backbone of knowledge, and knowledge is the backbone of society’s progress. This journey we call ‘progress’ takes us from our current state to a new level defined by human need and aspiration. Innovation is needed to expedite accomplishment of the SDGs, which all nations have pledged to achieve by 2030.

The UN tasked “all countries and all stakeholders”, which includes you and me, institutions, corporations, entrepreneurs and governments working together, to implement the 2030 Agenda. This means we have a larger role to play in realizing the Goals.  And innovation must be central to our efforts.

When you browse through the Goals notice that the title of SDG9 specifically includes Innovation; four additional Targets in SDGs 8 and 17 also include it.  You might be curious to see technology is mentioned over two dozen times in SDG Targets and Target Indicators.  In fact, Target 17.8 mentions technology four times, along with one nod to innovation! There is even a “Technology Facilitation Mechanism, based on a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders” (UN, 2015).

Do you think innovation has a huge role to play in the development and economic progress across all levels of society? I believe it has a specific role in the creation and diffusion of technologies to ensure growth and welfare of all communities across the world. However, despite the obvious benefits that innovation has for achieving the SDGs, policy makers often question its relevance.  Various authorities suggest that this is due to the mistaken notion that innovation is “high technology” (OECD & WB, 2013). The objective of my series is to provide actionable information regarding relevant innovations for each SDG. Entrepreneurs can convert some of these innovations into sustainable businesses. And large corporations can use innovations as part of their social responsibility initiatives.

What is the next innovation you are working on? Is it a social innovation?  Internationally recognized sustainable development expert, Jeremy Millard writes “Social innovations that work bottom-up in designing and delivering public services to marginalised communities in a gender agnostic way based on local acceptance and advocacy campaigns, have a very significant role to play in achieving the SDG goals by 2030” (2017).

We sometimes use innovations to excess in our lives, with our cell phones for instance.  During the pandemic we’ve increased our dependence on them. However, innovations can provide breakthrough improvements, rather than incremental change from typical improvement programs. When we face significant challenges, inventive thinking paves the way to multiple solutions to a problem. Innovation is vital to society’s well-being, growth and sustainable development (CIIE.CO, 2018).

The more I research this area, the more I find other experts supporting my personal assertions. For example, “Innovation is the Only Way to Win the SDG Race” was particularly validating (D. Young, 2019).

In this series, I will be sharing my thoughts as well as other experts’ insights, and invite you to share your innovation insights in the comments below.  Please follow me, share on social media, and come back for my next article.

References

Callan Hough. (2020, March 03). Different Types of Innovations. Retrieved from ideadrop: https://ideadrop.co/innovation-management/different-types-of-innovation/

CIIE.CO. (2018, February 12). How Innovation Will Drive The Economic Growth Of A Country Like India. Retrieved from Medium.com: https://medium.com/ciie/how-innovation-will-drive-the-economic-growth-of-a-country-like-india-f286fd8c97c9

  1. Young, W. W. (2019, May 02). Innovation is the Only Way to Win the SDG Race. Retrieved from BCG.COM: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/innovation-win-sdg-race

Millard, J. (2017). How Social Innovation Underpins Sustainable Development. Dortmund: www.socialinnovationatlas.net.

OECD & WB. (2013). what-role-innovation-different-stages-development. Retrieved from The Innovation Policy Platform: https://www.innovationpolicyplatform.org/www.innovationpolicyplatform.org/content/what-role-innovation-different-stages-development/index.html

  1. (2015). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (p. 29). New York City, New York, USA: United Nations.

Image Courtesy : Creative Commons
Copyright 2021 J. Thomas and SHERPA Institute. All rights reserved – please cite and link to this web page.

By Job Thomas

Job Thomas has over 35 years of experience in driving overall IT Strategy and Operations. This includes defining the IT Roadmap, budgeting, technology evaluation and evangelizing solutions, building scalable applications on cloud and execution of multi-million dollar, multi-location projects. He has worked with organizations including Electronic Technology Company in Bangalore, India, Funskool India Limited and MRF Limited in Chennai, India,  Coca-Cola India and Smartlinx VoIP Network in Hyderabad, India. With substantial experience working in startups, as well as large multinationals, Job has consistently transformed business processes and advanced technology adoptions. This prompted him to become an entrepreneur in the area of his expertise. After gaining nearly three decades of experience in corporate roles, Job started his firm, Virtual CIO Consulting Services – vCIO, currently operating in Hyderabad and Bangalore, India. Going on 10 years, vCIO has been instrumental in developing and implementing many applications to improve the top line and bottom line of organizations through their IT functions. During his tenure, Job has had the opportunity to negotiate and conclude a share purchase agreement with a US web hosting company. Additionally, Mr. Thomas has been on the Board of a public entity in the United States for a couple of years. His organization has consulted in ERP Implementation, Digital Transformation for a University, AI/ML Evaluation, IT Governance for Financial services, PMO for E-Governance, PMO for GST Service Provider, Virtual CIO for Manufacturing. The business creates long-term IT Strategies for organizations, helps them to study the impact of technology they would like to adopt, finds ways to improve their IT operations, evaluates their existing governance practices, and defines compliance requirements. These engagements deliver measurable return on investment through improved processes, engaged employees and satisfied customers. The vCIO mantra is: Wisdom to Make IT Work! Job is also serving Confederation of Indian Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, a non-profit organization in an honorary role as their National General Secretary. He is a SHERPA Institute team member on SDG4 - Quality Education for All.  His passion is for innovation, and Job will also be joining the SDG9 team – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.  He considers innovation to be key to achievement of the SDGs which he shares in a series of articles that you are invited to read.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *