Nairobi, Kenya (May 23-24, 2016) — "Data is the new currency, and I don't believe we are truly embracing it and all its possibilities," ADEC Innovations CEO James M. Donovan revealed as panelist at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), also known as the "Parliament of the Environment."
He added, "Our government offices are currently not embracing this (data) power in relation to helping themselves make better decisions. What we need now is organized disruption. We need to introduce innovation at a pace that really needs to take science, policy makers, the private sector and civil society in total along this journey of change."
Donovan participated in "Big Data and Innovation: Delivering Information for the Sustainable Development Goals," a key panel discussion attended by representatives of major groups and stakeholders from different sectors, including business and industry, children and youth, farmers, indigenous peoples and their communities, local governments, non-government organizations, local scientific and technological organizations, women, and workers and trade unions.
Representing the perspective of the business sector and the information technology industry in particular, Donovan made a case for creating an enabling environment for facilitating the development of disruptive technologies that will accelerate the achievement of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
"The private sector is willing to become involved, but we need an enabling environment, whether provided by the UN, UNEA, UNEP or other agencies: a safe zone in which we can fail-and fail forward-to be able to bring innovation to the table," said Donovan, who concurrently chairs the Global CEO Alliance, a partnership of like-minded leaders of businesses worldwide with innovative solutions for advancing the SDGs.
Creating such an environment for the UN would include upgrading its system for data collection, storage, sharing and business intelligence, which would be crucial in supporting a bottom-up approach to social monitoring and information.
"We absolutely know that the environment has changed, that society is looking for a new contract. There are leaders in all the various industries who are taking the environment to heart and putting sustainability into their businesses," he claimed.
Others stakeholders who participated in the panel discussion were Peter Denton (United Church of Canada), Isis Alvarez (Global Forest Coalition, Colombia), Joan Carling (Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Philippines), Charles Mwangi (GLOBE Kenya), Diana Mangalaglu (Science Po, France) and Peter King (Institute for Global Strategies, IGES Japan).
UNEA enjoys the universal membership of all 193 UN Member States and the full involvement of major groups and stakeholders. With this wide reach into the legislative, financial and development arenas, UNEA provides a groundbreaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy.
Since UNEP's inception in 1972, the environment has moved from the margins to the centre of the world's sustainable development agenda. In June 2012, world leaders called for UNEP to be strengthened and upgraded. The result was UNEA, a new governing body which gave the environment the same level of global prominence as issues such as peace, poverty, health, security, finance and trade.
For many, the creation of UNEA represents the coming of age of the environment. The first session of UNEA, which was held in June 2014, tackled major issues such as the illegal trade in wildlife, air quality, environmental rule of law, financing the Green Economy, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).