How Technology Has Changed Lives for the Better

Investments in technology solutions to social challenges in emerging urban centers have the potential to improve the lives of 2 billion people and generate up to $2 trillion in revenue by 2022 according to research released by Arm and UNICEF.

By Henrietta Fore and Simon Segars

Rose lives in Nairobi. Getting safe, reliable drinking water for her six daughters in the slum where they live used to involve risking disease from an illegally tapped water supply.

But a year ago, a metered water pump was installed that provided clean and affordable water using an electronic key loaded with credit.

Moving East; Ica lives in Jakarta. With no degree, she was trapped in an entry-level corporate communications job. Her prospects were poor.

That was until she began an e-learning degree programme with a European university. The chance to access a world-class education in another continent has changed her life and her ability to improve her career opportunities.

On the other side of the world, Anna lives in Mexico City where she holds down two jobs at a store near her home and at a packaging facility. But even with a double income, the rapidly increasing living costs in Mexico City meant her weekly wage still wasn’t enough to make ends meet.

Again, technology offered a solution and she now finds extra cleaning work with an online home and business cleaning service that digitally connects her to clients.

Three real people, three very different stories but with a single thread that connects them all. That thread is in how technology has changed their lives for the better.

100 billion reasons to engage

The companies that provide these technological innovations have to sustain themselves and cannot take action solely to improve lives. There has to be commercial viability.

For companies looking beyond established markets, tapping into the commercial potential of emerging markets and their new customers represents real, often uncontested, commercial opportunity.

This is the message that we want to send on behalf of our organizations – UNICEF and Arm. You don’t have to only think about the world’s poorer regions as places for corporate philanthropy.

They are also commercially viable markets representing new consumer groups that are predicted to become some of the largest and most important over the next few decades.

By 2030, up to two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities – approximately 1.8 billion of them under the age of 24, and the majority in Africa and Asia.

Instinctively, these rapidly growing urban centres feel like huge opportunity zones for business. But until now, the value of that opportunity has not been fully quantified.

Now, new research co-commissioned by UNICEF and Arm reveals the scale of what is possible. It sets out to chart the scale of unrealized potential in cities through a ground-breaking piece of research: Tech Bets for an Urban World.

In the research we see that businesses investing in emergent technology solutions across emerging world markets can not only potentially improve the lives of four billion people but they could also generate up to $100 billion in profits by 2022.

The Tech Bets

UNICEF and Arm have long shared the view that although the technology sector has the potential to change lives profoundly, it is currently not serving the people with the greatest need.

To catalyse change, we needed to explore the potential financial and social opportunity available to companies who choose to invest in unrealised markets.

As a result, we jointly commissioned Dalberg to produce the new Tech Bets market research. This focused on three urban cities: Nairobi, Jakarta and Mexico City and identified six ‘tech bets’: Digital Learning, Multi-Modal Skilling, Smart Recruitment, Water Metering, Emergency Response and Commuter Ride-Sharing.

The first three tech bets highlight the growing market for job sector preparation for some of the 1.8 billion future students, interns, mentees and job applicants. With Digital Learning, teachers can use online lessons to engage and inspire 500-600 million young people.

Multi-Modal Skilling, combining online education with in-person mentoring, could equip 120 million young people with important skills. And to assist people looking for work, Smart Recruitment quickly connects individuals and employers in the informal economy. All these strategies start with companies selling their technology services.

Our research indicates technological innovations for infrastructure investments could also pay significant dividends. Smart Water Solutions – like IoT networks of sensors and meters – are a great example.

As well as generating revenues for hardware and services operators, there are huge economic benefits to giving at-risk individuals, such as Rose, access to affordable and clean water.

Looking beyond health, Ride Sharing platforms could offer a safer, more efficient way to travel for the 350 million people living in cities, whose commuting time can often take up to three hours each way.

This would help take the pressure off traditional transport services and put more flexible transport options at the centre of reinvigorated city economies.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Real progress in dramatically improving lives means looking beyond philanthropy and working with businesses to identify and meet market needs.

The Arm and UNICEF partnership was founded on the desire to do just that, innovating and accelerating the development of new technology to overcome the barriers that prevent millions of people across the world from accessing basic health, education and support services.

Changing minds is about big partnerships and so we are also beginning to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners to identify and support new technology that can improve lives. Our first initiative is a smart water challenge that will start to turn the Tech Bets for an Urban World research into action.

We want to go further too. The 2030Vision initiative launched by Arm in partnership with the UN system, NGOs and others in the tech industry is all about collaborating to drive the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The aim is to improve a billion people’s lives by 2030.

Together, UNICEF and Arm are calling on the tech sector to develop new partnerships that can unleash the potential of technology and answer the needs of these new urban markets.

With a chance to invest in six tech bets, create up to $100 billion in profit, and improve the lives of billions of people like Rose, Ica and Anna, it’s clear that it’s possible to both do good and do good business. You just need to place your tech bet. We’re placing ours now.

U.N. General Assembly Kicks Off With Strong Words and Ambitious Goals

Graça Machel, member of The Elders and widow of Nelson Mandela, makes remarks during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. Credit: United Nations Photo/Cia Pak

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

In honour of Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela’s legacy, nations from around the world convened to adopt a declaration recommitting to goals of building a just, peaceful, and fair world.

At the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, aptly held in the year of the former South African leader’s 100th birthday, world leaders reflected on global peace and acknowledged that the international community is off-track as human rights continues to be under attack globally.Guterres highlighted the need to “face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied” so that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity.

“The United Nations finds itself at a time where it would be well-served to revisit and reconnect to the vision of its founders, as well as to take direction from Madiba’s “servant leadership” and courage,” said Mandela’s widow, and co-founder of the Elders, Graça Machel. The Elders, a grouping of independent global leaders workers for world peace and human rights, was founded by Machel and Mandela in 2007.

Secretary-general Antonio Guterres echoed similar sentiments in his opening remarks, stating: “Nelson Mandela was one of humanity’s great leaders….today, with human rights under growing pressure around the world, we would be well served by reflecting on the example of this outstanding man.”

Imprisoned in South Africa for almost 30 years for his anti-apartheid activism, Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, has been revered as a symbol of peace, democracy, and human rights worldwide.

In his inaugural address to the U.N. General Assembly in 1994 after becoming the country’s first black president, Mandela noted that the great challenge to the U.N. is to answer the question of “what it is that we can and must do to ensure that democracy, peace, and prosperity prevail everywhere.”

It is these goals along with his qualities of “humility, forgiveness, and compassion” that the political declaration adopted during the Summit aims to uphold.

However, talk along of such principles is not enough, said Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo.

“These are words that get repeated time and time again without the political will, urgency, determination, and courage to make them a reality, to make them really count. But we must make them count. Not tomorrow, but right now,” he said to world leaders.

“Without action, without strong and principled leadership, I fear for them. I fear for all of us,” Naidoo continued.

Both Machel and Naidoo urged the international community to not turn away from violence and suffering around the world including in Myanmar.

“Our collective consciousness must reject the lethargy that has made us accustomed to death and violence as if wars are legitimate and somehow impossible to terminate,” Machel said.

Recently, a U.N.-fact finding mission, which reported on gross human rights violations committed against the Rohingya people including mass killings, sexual slavery, and torture, has called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and protected for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While the ICC has launched a preliminary investigation and the U.N. was granted access to a select number of Rohingya refugees, Myanmar’s army chief General Min Aung Hlaing warned against foreign interference ahead of the General Assembly.

Since violence reignited in the country’s Rakhine State in August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Still some remain within the country without the freedom to move or access basic services such as health care.

Naidoo warned the international community “not to adjust to the Rohingya population living in an open-air prison under a system of apartheid.”

This year’s U.N. General Assembly president Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador said that while Mandela represents “a light of hope,” there are still concerns about collective action to resolve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

“Drifting away from multilateralism means jeopardising the future of our species and our planet. The world needs a social contract based on shared responsibility, and the only forum that we have to achieve this global compact is the United Nations,” she said.

Others were a little more direct about who has turned away from such multilateralism.

“Great statesmen tend to build bridges instead of walls,” said Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, taking a swipe at U.S. president Trump who pulled the country of the Iran nuclear deal and has continued his campaign to build a wall along the Mexico border.

Trump, who will be making his second appearance at the General Assembly, is expected to renew his commitment to the “America First” approach.

Naidoo made similar comments in relation to the U.S. president in his remarks on urging action on climate change.

“To the one leader who still denies climate change: we insist you start putting yourself on the right side of history,” he told attendees.

Trump, however, was not present to hear the leaders’ input as he instead attended a high-level event on counter narcotics.

Guterres highlighted the need to “face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied” so that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity.

Machel urged against partisan politics and the preservation of ego, saying “enough is enough.”

“History will judge you should you stagnate too long in inaction. Humankind will hold you accountable should you allow suffering to continue on your watch,” she said.

“It is in your hands to make a better world for all who live in it,” Machel concluded with Mandela’s words.

In addition to honouring the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the Summit also marks the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute which established the ICC.