ICT for Sustainable Growth and Development

ICT for Sustainable Growth and Development

Soulla Louca (University of Nicosia, Cyprus)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4550-9.ch001
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Abstract

The world is in the midst of a knowledge upheaval, complemented by opening up an entirely new panorama in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The social and economical dividends of ICT appear to be endless with the potential to contribute in achieving significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to challenge the economic recession the world is currently experiencing. Recent and projected developments in the fields of ICT are indeed revolutionary in nature. Their impact in areas such as science and technology, commerce and industry, business, administration, governance, and education will further revolutionize our society. One of the main challenges, however, is in the adoption of these new technologies. This chapter addresses some of these challenges for achieving technological diffusion and for shaping the experience of ICTs and technological innovation that would contribute to a global green economy and a sustainable future. It points to the important role ICT can play in creating employment opportunities, contributing to sustainability, and addressing environmental challenges associated with production, use of, and disposal of products. It is a working hypothesis calling for action by policy-makers, researchers, donors, and entrepreneurs, including social enterprises, to grasp the promises of ICT and conduct further research, policy dialogues, or pilot implementations for contributing to sustainable development and growth enabled by ICT.
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Introduction

Our society is currently faced with progressively more complex environmental, economic and social issues. Emerging and developing countries need to focus on alternative ways for sustainable development and economic growth. The adoption of ICT is a valuable force for accelerating political, economic, and social development, decreasing poverty and fostering trade and knowledge. Technology has become a necessity for both our professional and personal lives. ICT was clearly an important driving force in the economy during the second half of the 20th century. Since the innovation of the semiconductor (Silicon Valley, 1960s), it has been considered as something that would influence the way contemporary society functions. With the broad commercialization of the Internet (mid-90s), the focus on exploitation of new technologies reached new heights (Ford et al., 2001). During this time and onward, the interest and promise of ICT was often referred to as paradigmatic and societal leading to a complete re-design of business models and strategies, and a new way of life for the generation X and now additional changes for generations Y and Z (Web4).

Our daily activities involve work, education, entertainment, communication and social interaction, political engagement, transport and depending on our professional or social status. It captivates and fascinates us both in our professional and personal lives, and has transformed and changed our society and way of life. We rely heavily on its applications for every aspect of our lives. We are now in an era we shop online, communicate online, learn online. Doctors access patients’ medical records easily, obtain test results from the laboratory and deliver prescriptions directly to pharmacists, assist in a surgery anywhere in the world without being on site or use image processing to identify diseases. Patients with heart problems bear monitors which alert the doctors or medical centers if the patient condition changes, yet allow them to continue with their daily activities. Pilots take to the air in aircraft or travel in trains that more or less are fully automated from the point of departure to the point of arrival. Air and ground traffic management, water management, power management are all controlled by ICT applications. According to Hilty et al. (2011), ICT is perceived as an enabling technology for empowering or substituting several processes. It enables the optimization of the design, production, use and end-of life treatment of products, including their dematerialization and demobilization, as well as whole concepts for smart logistics.

In this chapter, a range of numerous policies, challenges and initiatives in technological diffusion and the shaping of the experience of ICTs and technological innovation that would contribute to sustainable growth and development are examined. It points out the important role that ICT can play in achieving significant economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits to challenge the economic recession the world is currently experiencing. It is a working hypothesis calling for action by policy-makers, researchers, donors, and entrepreneurs, including social enterprises, to grasp this opportunity, whether to conduct further research, policy dialogues or pilot implementations.

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