4IR: A Solution to Accelerate SDG 17 – Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development

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We must come together to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals to bring about global changes that leave no one behind. A quote by Henry Ford sums it up well, If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. There is a need to accelerate global partnerships so that together we can drive the SDGs forward for sustainable development. 4IR is a solution that will accelerate SDG 17 because of its emerging and innovative technologies.

This article focuses on the final global goal, SDG 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. It looks at the role of 4IR technologies in revitalizing global partnerships to solve the world’s problems.

Why Do We Need Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development?

It’s important for governments, public institutions, private sector, among others, to come together to achieve the SDGs. The UN developed the goals as a framework for taking action sustainably. Each of us has a role to play in achieving the SDGs.

The UN says that a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national, and local levels. The partnerships need to be built upon principles and values, shared vision and shared goals with a focus on the planet.

Global partnerships will help countries mobilize resources, build capacity, and develop technologically to accelerate the achievement of the global goals.

The Concerns of SDG 17

Some issues of SDG 17, as noted by the UN, include:

Support for implementing the SDGs has been steady but fragile, financial resources remain scarce, trade tensions have been increasing, and crucial data are still lacking. The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening past achievements, with a 40% decline in trade, foreign direct investment and remittances in 2020.

How is 4IR a Solution to Accelerate SDG 17?

4IR technologies are transforming every industry. PwC says that we need to ensure technologies are harnessed in the right way to fulfil their potential to revolutionize the world, transform the lives of people and unlock new pathways to prosperity, fast-tracking sustainable development globally.

Global Partnerships to Achieve the Global Goals

The World Economic Forum is at the forefront of developing 4IR initiatives to achieve the global goals. In its report titled, Unlocking Technology for the Global Goals, it has seen the potential of 4IR to deal with major global challenges like poverty, climate change, nature loss, and inequality, among others.

One partnership the World Economic Forum has launched is the Frontier 2030, a new Fourth Industrial Revolution for Global Goals Platform. It brings together different stakeholders to collaborate and unlock broader barriers to implementing new technologies to deliver positive societal impact.

Another World Economic Forum partnership is Uplink, which is a digital platform to crowdsource ideas and solutions to progress the global goals. The Strategic Intelligence Platform harnesses collective intelligence on forces that drive transformational change across economies, industries and global issues.

Partnerships to Achieve the SDGs Using 4IR Technologies

1.   Drone Technology to Create Job Opportunities

One target of SDG 17 is to fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017. This calls for initiatives to enhance the use of 4IR technologies, especially in developing countries.

According to the World Economic Forum, digitization will create new employment opportunities by lowering the cost of trade, reducing barriers to market entry, expanding market access and boosting productivity.

One 4IR technology that is being used to create employment is drone technology. Some of the job opportunities in this area include drone pilots, drone pilot trainers, software developers, production personnel, technicians, etc.


Tanzania Flying Labs is creating new jobs by upskilling local communities with the ability to use drone data to improve livelihoods. One thing it does is to create job opportunities through its business incubation program. It has successfully incubated new local “Drones-as-a-Service” companies. The organization provides assessment services on the use of drones for various applications and advice on how best to integrate them into daily workflow.

2.   Platform Economy to Tackle Food Waste

Platforms are digital marketplaces that allow businesses and consumers to connect and buy and sell products or services. They match buyers and sellers and usually solve a challenge faced in society. Some businesses are using platforms to form partnerships that are accelerating the SDGs. One area where platforms are in use is combating food waste to achieve SDG 2 (Zero hunger).


Too Good to Go is an app in Europe that deals with food waste. It seeks to address SDG 2 (Zero hunger) and has partnered with hotels, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, schools, businesses etc, to sell their surplus food. Customers use the app to buy magic bags at a cheaper price. Businesses register their magic bags and customers buy them, not knowing what is inside. A magic bag can have an assortment of food that would otherwise go to waste.


The world will achieve the SDGs through partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels. When we work towards sustainable development with a common goal, we will solve a lot of the world’s problems. By coming together to ensure that especially developing countries have the resources they need, we will move forward faster.

To accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, 4IR will be a key player by providing its advanced technologies that fuse the digital and physical worlds. Ours is to learn how to use the emerging technologies of 4IR to come up with innovative solutions that will help deal with global challenges.

If you want to learn about the emerging technologies of 4IR, get a copy of Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution.

If you would like to learn Strategic 4IR Skills, please register for the 4IR Foundation Course at the 4IR Academy

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