Barcelona opts for technological humanism and digital innovation at Tech4SDG

Held as part of Tech Spirit Barcelona, on 24 and 25 February, Tech4SDG featured 4 sessions for discussing and debating how technology can meet social and environmental challenges linked to the 2030 Agenda SDGs.

A host of technological start-ups were brought together through several round tables and panels, with national and international experts and keynotes on how technology can meet social and environmental challenges linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme also included networking spaces and various workshops. It became a meeting and dialogue space for entrepreneurs, companies and investors in the technology and social sectors to create alliances and new collaboration channels.

The Third Deputy Mayor for the 2030 Agenda, Digital Transition, Sports and Territorial and Metropolitan Coordination at Barcelona City Council, Laia Bonet, celebrated the large number of organisations that took part in the conference and highlighted Barcelona’s role as ‘a global city in technological innovation’. ‘It is crucial for technological humanism to be the key feature in the current digital transition; we are working to put technology to work for the city’s residents, with the pledge that no one will be left behind, as stated in the 2030 Agenda.’

On Monday morning, the commissioner for the 2030 Agenda officially opened the ‘Innovation and sustainable cities’ session, where he underlined Barcelona City Council’s 2030 Agenda pledge and the work currently being done to define and adapt the overall SDGs to a local scale and Barcelona’s reality. ‘We are making good progress towards some goals but we need to pick up our pace in other areas. We are in the decade of action and we have 10 years to achieve a more sustainable Barcelona,’ he declared.

The commissioner stressed that innovation is crucial if the 2030 Agenda is to be achieved: ‘Without innovation, we cannot achieve the SDGs; they require not just digital and technological but also urban, social and procedural innovation.’ To this end, he mentioned the City Council’s keenness to drive ahead with innovation, through, for example, the Challenge launched by the Bit Habitat Foundation for finding solutions to the social challenges facing cities like Barcelona.

Yesterday afternoon, the Commissioner for Digital Innovation, e-Government and Good Governance, Michael Donaldson, took part in the last session, entitled ‘Transformation towards impact’, where he spoke about the digitisation of public administration and its social impact. He also highlighted Barcelona City Council’s role in driving ahead with digital disruption and innovation to put technology to work for the city’s residents and their needs. That represents a twofold challenge that ‘requires not just greater digital innovation for taking on local and global challenges but also raising awareness and working to ensure no one is left behind by the digital disruption,’ he explained.

‘If these challenges are to be achieved, work will have to be carried out in three areas: the relationship between rights, ethics and technology; digital skills acquisition; and the creation of an innovation ecosystem,’ he pointed out.

In practice, these areas mean safeguarding and boosting people’s digital rights and studying their impact from an ethical and general-interest perspective; taking on the gap in access to digitisation by working on everyone’s acquisition of digital skills; and embarking on the promotion of innovation for solving the major problems and challenges facing Barcelona, by facilitating collaboration between the public sector and all the other stakeholders.

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