Digital Technologies for Sustainable Development: Dual Challenge of Sustainability and Inclusivity Perspective

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Department of Economics, Modibbo Adama University of Technology; School of Economics, University of Ibadan
Modibbo Adama University of Technology
University of Ibadan
Address: Nigeria
Journal nameLaw & Digital Technologies
EditionVolume №1

This paper is a desk-review study and considers digital technologies for sustainable development: a challenge of sustainability and inclusivity. It takes a glance at the interaction of digital technologies and sustainable development, legal challenges of sustainable development. Digital technological inclusion of populace was based on mobile phones, which equally facilitate financial inclusion and help in reducing poverty. Digital technologies have ample of expanded opportunities for businesses and economic growth. Also, digital technologies have been successfully proved to be relevant. Digital technologies have changed the way SDGs are pursued and, fortunately, accelerated SDGs attainment, especially, when it is inclusive. Sustainability and inclusivity of digital technologies should be the challenge to be bordered about maximizing the gains from its adoption in promoting sustainable development. It is recommended that governments at all levels and institutions should be responsible for the provision of more digital technological facilities and infrastructures as well as for the provision of more basic amenities that would encourage investors in the area. Governments jointly with the private individuals should be prompt in taking actions (such as reporting fault) about safety and maintenance of the physical facilities and all other social capital, while the custodians of law (mostly lawyers – learned persons) should put under their surveillance any legal challenge that promotes exclusion and remedy such through the provision of law.

Keywordsdigital technologies, sustainable development, financial inclusion, legal certainty
AcknowledgmentSpecial appreciation to Yulia Kharitonova, Professor, Doctor of Law, MSU, Moscow, whose invitation to make a presentation at the regular conference of Lomonosov Moscow State University birthed this paper. Thanks to Aleksandr Alekseenko, Associate Professor, PhD (Law), Vladivostok, with whose collaboration and contribution to a monograph entitled "Ensuring the Rights of Investors in the Context of the Digitalization of the Economy: The Experience of European and Asian States" and my section contribution, entitled "Delinquency tendency in digital currency and its impact on credit", got Prof. to learn of me. I am grateful to you both, so far. Sincere appreciation to the anonymous reviewers who did their work without any form of prejudice. Your suggestions and comments had further enhanced this paper. Many thanks to you.
Publication date02.07.2021
Number of characters33635
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1. Meaning of Digital Technologies (DT) and Sustainable Development (SD)

2 Digital technologies are ways of automation that are premised on electronic tools. The advent of digital revolution changed almost everything that could possibly be changed, up to the point that those that recognised its effect are afraid of free application of digital technology in some areas, for instance, there is a control of genetically modified seeds – in the area of agriculture. Digital technologies involve a lot of things, such as internet, website, digital television, a smartphone, a digital currency (such as cryptocurrency), blockchain tech, a digital human (robot) among so many other things. In short, digital technologies save time, costs, facilitate ease of doing things and have many possibilities that were hardly envisaged in the past centuries. Digital technologies have improved considerably all facets of human lives. Digital technologies have witnessed enormous progress since the adoption of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society in 2005 (UNCTAD 2019). The progress was enormous indeed: the population using the internet surpassed half of the world population in 2018 (UNCTAD 2019). With some enablers, digital technologies have now been integrated into everything, without much ado, digital technologies have come to stay, and so far, they have become part of human’s day-to-day activities/engagements.
3 On the other hand, Sustainable Development implies economic prosperity for all. Also, it entails social inclusion, economic and environmental sustainability, and it all gears towards human progress. It implies prosperity for the present generation without hampering the same for future generations. Sustainable Development is universal and holistic (Nakicenovic et al. 2019). This signifies the fact that all countries of the world are in the business of achieving the crystalized goals of the Sustainable Development as defined and itemised by the United Nations (UN) as a succeeded plan for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More so, the Sustainable Development is holistic because all the goals encapsulated in it are set to be achieved in unison. Sequel to this position, the SD goals as stipulated by the UN are more or less of making the government of a country be committed to the issue of governance because what any government might set to achieve as end goals under the political economy space are what makes up the SDGs.
4 Going by the lexicon meaning of sustainability it has four pillars, which includes a human in addition to the popularised three pillars. Proclaiming three pillars is justified by the fact that human is the recipient of the consequences of the actions towards the three pillars. Both forward and backward actions and their consequences revolve around the human. Therefore, it is three pillars with the human at the centre of the three-piece pillars. Figure 1 shows the three pillars of sustainability as expected in the instance of sustainable development. Furthermore, Figure 2 represents the interconnectivity of the three pillars of sustainability and prosperity to people, with governance being germane in administering the process (Nakicenovic et al., 2019). It can be inferred from Figure 2 as the three interconnected pillars are seated in the universality of ‘Governing’ and ‘Digitalization’ set that digitalization is important in achieving sustainable development.
5 On a quick note, it is rationally envisaged that digital technologies accelerate and promote sustainable development achievement, while sustainable development attainment promotes digital technologies. The two concepts have bidirectional causality when rationally is considered. Many studies, which had considered pre- and post- statistics of digital diffusion in national productivity, have given credence to the fact that the two concepts supplement each other (Baxtiyarjon and Jurayevich 2020; Sharma 2019).

7 Figure 1: Three Pillars of Sustainable Development. Source: Lamprinaki Viktoria-Vasiliki (2015)

9 Figure 2: Interconnectivity of Sustainability Pillars with the Universality of Governing and Digitalisation. Source: Stone (2017) and Thwink (2014)

2. Paradigm Shift in Achieving Sustainable Development in the Face of Digital Technologies

11 Digital technologies have challenged and changed the know-how of handling our daily activities in achieving economic progress. The changes are observed in education, health, agriculture, finance, business undertaking and governance. Now we are having ‘E’ prefix on almost everything we do. It is now E-banking, E-Commerce, E-Health, E-Agriculture, E-Education, E-Governance, just to mention a few. Our activities are now preceded by ‘E-’ prefix, which implies ‘Electronic’, that is, digital technology. Electronic forms are more preferable to the traditional form of activities, as they save time, costs, enhance profitability and productivity, and drive inclusion above all. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big data, Cloud computing, Machine learning and Algorithmic are relevant and significant tools in realising the Sustainable Development (UNCTAD 2019). Vividly, digital technologies have ways of expediting action towards the achievement of sustainable development.

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