DigITS 2021 – Digitalisation, big data, connectivity, and Artificial Intelligence are shaping today’s cities around the globe. It has led to increased productivity, competition and inclusion within and across the economies. Further, it has also led to substantial positive impact on the economic growth performance as well as enhanced the economic integration, both regional and global.
Digitalization has been a prominent channel for the economies in attainment of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc and its impact has reached every corner of the world. This has divided the timeline into a pre-covid and a post-covid world. Digital transformation has been marked as a defining feature of the post-covid world as it has permeated every aspect of our lives.
Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalization of societies and economies at an unimaginable pace. From helping governments to implementing social protection schemes to enabling e-health and online education, digital technologies have helped business in continuing their operations and trade through e-commerce and digital finance. However, ensuring that the digital transformation happening around us does not become another reason to contribute to the persisting deep inequalities posed as one of the greatest challenges faced by the world. Hence, inclusion must be at the heart of digital transformation to achieve the promise of sustainability of “ leaving no one behind”. The objectives related to inclusiveness need to be embedded in the foundations of digital transformation.
Digitalization has also emerged as the main driver for sustainable development. Businesses are using digital tools to map their environmental footprint and assess the impact of environmental shifts on their business. The focus of the businesses is on how digital transformation can enable firms to become successful while contributing to achieving SDGs. However, the emerging trends are still unexplored on how they are reshaping the market conditions in which organizations operate. Enabling sustainable innovation, these technologies have also created new threats such as cybercrime and privacy loss. While digital transformation is certain, its direction is still uncertain. The true transformative potential of digital technologies can only be realized if it is ensured that the digitalization benefits economies, societies and the environment, and embeds inclusion at its core.
The lead theme for this conference echoes the SDG agenda. They are the critical appraisal of both the empirical and theoretical efficacy of the development goals, effectiveness evaluations of the various metrics used to characterize the goals, and proposals on alternative decision-making tools underpinning sustainable development solutions, in the unfolding world following the Covid-19 pandemic.
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