By Alfred Watkins

The Global Solutions Summit convened for the second straight year at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on the day before the start of the official UN Multi- stakeholder STI Forum. (May 16, 2019) The overarching theme of the Global Solutions Summits is scaling up technology deployment for the SDGs in emerging mar- kets, especially the Least Developing Countries.

The UN’s 2030 objective is to achieve the SDGs while “leaving no one behind.” At a minimum, attaining this noble objective requires a two-step process. The first is to focus R&D on the development of scientific innovations that generate high performance, radically-affordable products — the challenge of affordable excellence. Examples featured at GSS 2019 include Global Good’s development of technological solutions specifically geared to the needs of smallholder farmers and Vanu’s work to “connect the unconnected” by providing low- cost wi-fi access in remote villages.

The indispensable second step is getting these scientific discoveries into the hands of the hundreds of millions of people in tens of thousands of urban and rural communities in dozens of countries. This is the so-called deployment challenge. The Global Solutions Summit focuses on this second challenge.

This deployment process is the domain of business models, supply chains, community organizing, product marketing, and finance. It is the purview of entrepreneurs, community leaders, equipment vendors, logistics experts, payment mechanisms, finance for social enterprises and consumers, government officials, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, SMEs, large corporations, and local universities who comprise the deployment ecosystem.

GSS 2019 explored how we can build a more effective and efficient deployment ecosystem – one that enables social enterprises, SMEs, NGOs, and foundations to reach more people in the countries where they are already working and transfer their deployment know-how to more countries at a pace and on a scale commensurate with the goal of achieving the SDGs by 2030. A more detailed Background Discussion Paper is available here. A synthesis of the 2019 Summit discussion will be posted on the Summit website in late-summer.


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