The mobile industry has achieved greatest improvement in Good Heath and Well-being (SDG 3), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) and Climate Action (SDG 13) as per recent report ‘2017 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals’ released by GSMA.
“Mobile operators around the world are working to deploy mobile-enabled solutions that drive greater inclusion in cities and remote communities, enable access to essential services such as health and education, create employment opportunities and empower people with the tools to reduce poverty and inequality,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being increased from 27.3 to 31.4 in 2016, the largest overall increase for any SDG. A key driver of this is the improvements in network coverage, resilience and connectivity, which can facilitate emergency communication and broadcasting during health epidemics. These improvements also enable the use of big data; operators can provide critical information on the flow of people to and from affected areas and therefore help public health organisations more effectively respond to the spread of disease and better target relief efforts.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities increased from 32.6 to 36.5 in 2016. Today, more than 110 operators in nearly 80 countries support the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter to contribute to humanitarian response, improve access to communication and information for those affected by crisis, reduce loss of life and aid recovery.
Launched earlier this year, Big Data for Social Good leverages the world’s leading mobile operators’ big data capabilities to address epidemics and natural disasters. From services such as mobile money and mobile agriculture, to the Internet of Things and the 5G networks of the future, mobile operators are making a difference to the lives of people around the world and helping to preserve and protect planet Earth.
SDG 13: Climate Action increased from 37.4 to 41.4 in 2016. The main drivers behind the improvement were the increases in network coverage, quality and take-up of mobile services. This enables operators to play an increasingly important role in building resilience to climate-related and natural disasters via early-warning and emergency communication and broadcasting. The use of big data can also provide critical information to track movements of populations before and during emergencies, allowing governments to better focus disaster planning and relief. The industry is increasingly committed to supporting such initiatives, as demonstrated by the number of operators that signed up to the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter in 2016.
While still in its early stages of development, the rollout of IoT solutions is starting to have an impact on the SDG by enabling governments to collect data critical to the adaptation to, and management of, climate change – for example, by providing real-time climate and weather information and early-warning systems. Other smart applications, such as in the areas of energy, transport, buildings, manufacturing and agriculture, can also help tackle climate change.
The three key trends that contributed to this positive progress of SDGs are: Better Networks, Greater Connectivity and Increased Use of Mobile.
Mobile operators have invested heavily in expanding infrastructure and improving quality of service. As of the end of 2016, more than half the world’s population was within reach of a 4G network, while nearly 85 per cent had access to 3G networks.
With broader coverage, improved network quality and increased resilience, mobile networks also play a critical role before and during epidemics, conflicts and natural or climate-related disasters, supporting emergency communication and broadcast services and providing accurate and timely information on the movement of affected populations.
Operators continue to connect the unconnected. At the end of 2016, the total number of mobile subscribers reached 4.8 billion and 3.5 billion people used mobile to access the internet. The benefits of this are wide-ranging, with connectivity driving improvements in economic growth through improved productivity, infrastructure development and efficiency.
Operators have been particularly proactive in pursuing more innovative solutions to roll out mobile networks in remote areas, making mobile services more affordable to the poorest individuals and driving efforts to accelerate digital inclusion for women.
Users are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they use mobile devices and are starting to access more advanced mobile-enabled services. In 2016, the number of registered mobile money accounts surpassed half a billion, giving users greater access to financial services that enable them to make investments and manage expenses. Additionally, the number of social media users on mobile reached 2.5 billion, helping promote social and political inclusion and facilitating the development of education networks.
In future, the GSMA has outlined several commitments and initiatives to drive further progress against the SDGs.
- Connected Women Commitment Initiative – This initiative supports mobile operator efforts in low- and middle-income countries to reduce the gender gap in mobile internet and mobile money by 2020.
- IoT Big Data – The GSMA is working to establish an IoT Big Data Ecosystem to encourage a common approach to data sharing that will help IoT realise its full potential and encourage the development of new projects across transport, the environment and smart cities.
- GSMA Mobile for Development Initiatives – Working with a range of stakeholders, GSMA Mobile for Development is leading a number of projects to drive progress across the SDGs, in areas such as disaster response, mobile money, utilities, agriculture and health, among others.
- Partnerships for the Goals – Partnerships with different entities, including the UN, will look at new business models and mechanisms to support the implementation of the SDGs, and engage governments and mobile industry leaders to increase the positive social impact of mobile technologies.
“From services such as mobile money and mobile agriculture, to the Internet of Things and the 5G networks of the future, we’re making a difference to the lives of people around the world and helping to preserve and protect our planet,” continued Granryd.