Peace Boat US interns attended “The Role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in accelerating the achievement of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development” at the United Nations Headquarters. They learned that while 98% of Americans have access to the internet, only 47% of the global population has similar access. This meeting focused on the opportunities and concerns involved in increasing the connectivity of the international population.
Of particular interest to our interns were the impacts ICTs could have on the environment. They learned ICTs can serve as an integral tool in collecting big data for analysis of biodiversity, pollution, weather patterns and ecosystem evolution. In addition, satellite monitoring increases accountability by providing accurate global data. Running parallel to these positive impacts of ICTs, however, are the concerns. An increase in ICTs also creates an increase in electronic waste (e-waste). According to the EPA, e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America. Internationally, 40 million tons of electronic waste are created each year. In addition to having a negative environmental impact e-waste is also a health hazard, particularly to the impoverished young girls and women who scavenge for survival in various countries. Peace Boat interns were thrilled to learn about the various opportunities and concerns surrounding ICTs, and how they can be used in the undertaking of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They look forward to incorporating this knowledge and awareness into Peace Boat’s mission of promoting sustainable and equitable development around the world.