Bringing the Global Goals to London Tech Week

Jeff Sachs and Richard Curtis Talk SDGs

Between 10th and 12th June 2019, over 20,000 delegates from 98 countries passed through London's Kings Cross to attend the CogX Festival of AI and Emerging Technology which - in its third year - chose to support and highlight the implementation of the Global Goals as its initiative of choice. Two SDG Advocates were present at CogX this year: Jeffrey Sachs and Richard Curtis. Both used the platform as an opportunity to stress the importance of accelerated action on the SDGs.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the CogX Festival of Emerging Technology on rethinking the economy to achieve the sustainable development goals.

Through Project Everyone and partners 2030Vision - the sustainability initiative of tech company ARM - the festival sought to build powerful, cross-sector partnerships to accelerate progress against the Global Goals, encouraging attendees not only to learn about the Goals, but to consider the role they could play in helping realise them. 

Global Goals ice cream van!

Global Goals ice cream van!

As well as ensuring that the Global Goals were integrated across festival branding, stage sessions, a central Global Goals hub and even an ice cream van, this call-to-arms culminated in stage session hosted by UN SDG Advocate Richard Curtis, in which he presented the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as the framework around which the growing tech for good movement should rally.

Richard Curtis was joined by Jacqueline Fuller (VP, Google & President, Google.org), Claire Melamed (CEO, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data), Kriti Sharma (Founder, AI for Good & UN Young Leader for the SDGs) and Dominic Vergine (Founder, 2030Vision & Head of Sustainability, ARM), who collectively challenged the 1,000 strong audience - made up of the world's best accelerators - to take urgent action on the Global Goals before it's too late. 

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The session culminated in a powerful rallying cry from Richard Curtis, saying: 'The Global Goals are an urgent and critical subject. Try and remember that when you're doing something small and boring - think about what that action really entails, because there are lives at stake and that's what you're fighting for. The Goals are part of our common humanity. They are above national politics, and they are the answers and the solutions to the emergencies that we are all facing. That is why you need to get to work, and get to work now' 

Later in London Tech Week, The Founders Forum brought together the world’s leading digital and technology entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs and senior investors to engage in open debate, brainstorming, discussion, and problem solving. In a fireside chat, Richard Curtis and Matthew Freud - founder of communications agency Freuds - discussed the importance of working faster and harder together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, calling for those in the room to help accelerate progress through technological innovation and investment.

This was followed by a brainstorming session where founders came together to answer the question: How can Tech Help Solve the Global Goals?.  Ten founders, who are already driving innovation and action on a range of different Goals, led breakout groups to identify new ways of addressing the world’s biggest challenges. In just an hour, leaders collaborated across industries and issue to identify a range of exciting ideas and solutions - proving that everyone in the room has the potential to impact consumer behaviour and put pressure on leaders. The session culminated with Richard Curtis calling on all the founders to consider setting aside 10% of their time, or of their organisation, to not only focus on innovation for the Goals over the next ten years, but to connect with others working on the same challenges as them, reminding them that together we can deliver a much larger impact than if we remain in silos.

Ben Schaare