The UN, tech giants, and the policy, finance and science communities today teamed up to launch major new pushes on using cutting-edge technology to create cleaner, greener and more efficient solutions to sustainable development.
Key figures from these sectors are joining civil society representatives in Nairobi at the second UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment, meeting for three days in advance of the fourth UN Environment Assembly.
The goal of the Forum is to unite influential organizations and individuals from different sectors in the common goal of using the environment sustainably for the benefit of all. This year, the Forum sees the launch of two major initiatives: the first international ‘Working Group on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Convergence and the Green Technology Startup Hub’.
“There is no doubt that rapid technological advancement played a major part in the troubles we face,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “But it is that technology – through humanity’s ability to invent and innovate – that can help to save us. The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers a real opportunity to create cleaner, greener and more efficient solutions to sustainable development.”
The working group aims to build an open-source platform for big data on the environment, and to explore new spaces in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. It unites tech giants, Earth Observation institutions, the science and policy communities, green tech start-ups, citizen scientists and the worlds of finance and industry.
“We can’t ensure implementation of the 2030 Agenda without concrete data, which allows us to identify opportunities, ensure evidence-based decision making, direct investment and track progress,” said Siim Kiisler, President of the Assembly and Minister of Environment for Estonia. “I am confident that we will make immense progress.”
The Green Technology Startup Hub, meanwhile, will act as an accelerator and incubator of start-up innovation for the environment, as it examines the enabling policies and actions required to use such innovation to transform the world into greener and more sustainable living.
Startups are not only transforming markets and economic growth, some are helping to save the planet. Venture capital investment in startups has surged to its highest level ever – $148 billion last year alone. More than 40 Venture Capital-backed companies have achieved billion-dollar valuations.