Singapore
Global Centre for Technology, Innovation
and Sustainable Development

Building a more sustainable future for all of us, by all of us.

How can we empower farmers to tackle the challenges of climate change? Enable cities to digitalise and improve growth? Fund life-changing projects in villages thousands of kilometres away? These are the challenges that we will work on—with the help of technology, innovation, and partnerships.

Our Three Pillars

Here are the three areas of work that we’re focused on

Sustainable Agriculture

Zero hunger is a goal that’s easy to articulate but difficult to achieve—especially with new challenges brought about by climate change. When agriculture contributes to a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, how can we produce more food without harming the planet?

Cities and Digitalisation

Digitalisation isn’t about keeping up with the times—it’s about helping cities be more sustainable, even when they are supporting a huge and growing population. Over half of the world live in urban areas today. How can we integrate digital technologies to alleviate problems of urbanisation and build better cities?

Sustainable Investing and Financial Inclusion

Extraordinary progress on the SDGs requires extraordinary capital—how can we help nudge investments into a more sustainable trajectory? On top of that, how can we leverage fintech to offer the unbanked more control over their finances and their own wellbeing?

Sustainable agriculture

Feeding everyone on our planet—without harming our planet. That’s sustainable agriculture.

When we think about the melting ice caps caused by global warming, most people think about single-use plastics and air pollution from cars. But when we grow food to feed the 7.5 billion people on earth, we’re also contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion.

In turn, climate change has increased the volatility of the global food system. Due to global warming, we expect up to a quarter of crop yields to decline by 2050. And population growth adds to the mounting challenge. While 2 billion people around the world already go hungry or are undernourished, the planet will need to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050. That means closing a gap of 56 per cent between the amount of food available today and that required in the coming three decades.

Technology offers a solution by drastically improving the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural value chains. In other words, there is a way to reduce agriculture’s environmental impact and feed more people. To do so, we need to promote sustainable agriculture practices around the world. Support small-scale farmers. And invest in technology and infrastructure that helps us grow more food per square metre, use less water, and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

 

Associated SDGs:

How Agriculture Impacts the Environment?

Contributes to ¼ of the world’s
greenhouse gas emissions

Uses 68% of our precious
freshwater supplies

Cities and Digitalisation

Every day, plenty of people from across the globe leave their homes in search of better lives. Most of them end up in cities, where opportunities await—as well as pollution, congestion, slums, infrastructure issues, and other problems due to overpopulation.

Today, more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas and this number is still growing rapidly. The challenge is clear: how can we build cities that offer everyone a chance at a better life, without destroying their quality of life?

This phenomenon of urbanisation and its associated problems are not new. What’s new is the digital technologies we have today that can help countries deal with the problems of urbanisation effectively.

For instance, microgrid technology helps ensure that crucial services such as hospitals, police, and water facilities will stay resilient even in the wake of natural disasters. Through sensors and software, we can optimise energy consumption and monitor pollution levels. By harvesting data, we can improve productivity in both public services and private businesses. And we can give everyone with a mobile phone access to quality education, which reduces inequality. The cities at the vanguard of digitalisation have already reaped rewards—a study found the city of Barcelona saved €75m thanks to smart water, lighting and parking initiatives. Now just imagine the possibilities for cities in developing countries.

This is digitalisation, in which the combination of data, digital connectivity and citizen knowledge generates opportunities for public services to become better. It helps us build more sustainable, resilient cities that offer people better opportunities. And it is a priority pathway for developing countries to make the step change to a more advanced level of sustainability and human development. Digitalisation accelerates our progress for every single one of UNDP’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from transportation to health and liveability.

How the Distribution of the World’s Population Will Shift?

68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050

Every year, an additional 6 million people will become slum-dwellers.

Sustainable Investment

Building a more sustainable future requires capital. Today, our main sources of financing are governments and the public sector. However, to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries alone, we still require an additional USD $2.5 trillion dollars every year.

This is an outsized business proposition—a USD $19 trillion one in fact—for private investors to make money and make a difference at the same time. Already some USD $239bn in private investment is being put to work to address pressing global challenges. But this is a fraction of the vast pools of private capital—the trillions in equity markets, in pension funds and insurance markets—that could be nudged towards more sustainable ends. This is sustainable investing, redefining the role of capital to pursue an investment strategy that generates financial returns, as well as positive environmental and societal returns.

At the same time, fintech can help accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda—and notably help bank the unbanked. More than a third of the global population today remains without access to finance. Narrowing the gap means offering the 1.7 billion unbanked adults today access to credit and financial services such as mobile money and microinsurance, amongst others.

With mobile money, the previously underserved can take control of their finances. This helps them save more, which in turn keeps them resilient to unexpected emergencies. Those who receive government aid via digital transfers are less vulnerable to corruption. Enterprising women can access credit to start businesses. And farmers can reduce their risk with agricultural microinsurance.

Associated SDGs:

Want to start a conversation?

If you have enquiries, comments and feedback on our focus areas or would like to partner with the Global Centre please get in touch.

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