These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Measuring the Information Society Report 2016
International Telecommunication Union
The period since the conclusion of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 has seen rapid growth in access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) throughout the world. However, the potential impact of ICTs is still constrained by digital divides between different countries and communities. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) documents the pervasiveness of ICTs and the extent of digital divides between regions and countries through its annual ICT Development Index (IDI), which aggregates quantitative indicators for ICT access, ICT use and ICT skills in the large majority of world economies.
Cellphones have lifted hundreds of thousands of Kenyans out of poverty
In Kenya, a so-called “mobile money” system allows those without access to conventional bank accounts to deposit, withdraw, and transfer cash using nothing more than a text message. It turns out that using cell phones to manage money is doing more than just making life more convenient for the Kenyans who no longer have to carry paper notes. It’s also helping pull large numbers of them out of poverty. That’s the central finding of a new study published in Science Thursday, which estimated that access to M-PESA, the country’s most popular mobile money system, lifted hundreds of thousands of Kenyans above the poverty line. By allowing people to expand the networks they draw from during emergencies, manage their money better, and take more risks, the mobile phone service provides a substantial boost to many of the most socioeconomically vulnerable members of society.
False health news more popular on Facebook
The Zika epidemic that spread throughout the American continent last year was accompanied by another outbreak, one of rumours and false news about the disease. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and Tulane University in the United States analysed 200 posts (in English) on Facebook. They found that rumours and conspiracy theories were more popular than trustworthy information. Using the keywords “Zika” and “virus”, the scientists searched for videos and other relevant material published over the course of a month. Two independent doctors then selected the 200 most shared posts, and determined that 12 per cent of them were misinforming the public about the virus. In an article published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the authors reported that while posts published by institutions such as the World Health Organization reached 43,000 page views, misleading pages that described Zika as a medical ploy or a hoax received 530,000.
Projecting progress: are cities on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030?
This report explores for the first time the scale of the challenge for 20 cities across the world to reach selected targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than half of the targets included will require a profound acceleration of efforts if they are to be achieved by the majority of selected cities. Targets that are not on course to be met by the majority of cities studied include ending child malnutrition, achieving full and productive female employment, access to adequate housing and access to drinking water and sanitation. The report makes a series of recommendations to increase progress towards the SDGs, including:
Central governments and donors should work to strengthen local governments’ capacities.
Government and city administrations should invest more in ways to monitor progress on the SDGs.
Statistical offices’ and cities’ information systems should improve the data available.
Mobilizing Private Finance for Sustainable Development
The proactive engagement of the private sector was critical to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Inevitably, private finance will become even more central in the concerted effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to their ambition. Private investment decisions in both the real economy and in the financial sector should move the world towards the aspirations set out in the 2030 agenda. This means going far beyond philanthropy and voluntary corporate social responsibility, important though they are. It is a matter of steering the investment decisions that private actors make every day. In the context of the Financing for Development debate, this discussion paper reflects on the latest trends and makes recommendations to:
Establish an enabling regulatory environment for the private sector to invest in the SDGs;
Introduce “Smart” public incentives to fasten the realignment of private finance to the SDGs; and
Foster change in company and consumer behaviours to transition to inclusive and sustainable markets.
Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit