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Article

Including Digital Connection in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Systems Thinking Approach for Achieving the SDGs

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Department of Psychology, ALL Institute, Maynooth University, W23 F2H6 Maynooth, Ireland
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Microsoft, South County Business Park, One Microsoft Place, Carmanhall and Leopards Town, D18 P521 Dublin, Ireland
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Project UnBound, The Grafton Suite, 30 Grafton Street, D02 ED29 Dublin, Ireland
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Giuseppe Ioppolo, Giulio Mario Cappelletti, Luca Grilli and Carlo Russo
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1883; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031883
Received: 7 December 2021 / Revised: 27 January 2022 / Accepted: 31 January 2022 / Published: 7 February 2022
In the two decades since the establishment of the 2030 Agenda, the world has faced significant challenges to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Before COVID-19, the SDGs were not on track to be achieved, and disruptions in implementation resulting from the pandemic have had significant effects, turning back years of progress. The pandemic has highlighted the essential nature of digital technologies in advancing the SDGs, continuing education, including higher education, social, and commercial activities, as well as enabling people to participate in society, democracy, and the economy during crises. As humanity enters this new period and begins to reset after the ‘great pause’, it is imperative to reconsider how the digital revolution has affected progress, especially in realizing the SDGs. Digital inclusion and connectivity inform and are essential to achieve all of the Goals. This article builds on the Just Digital Ethical Framework conceptualized by the authors in O’Sullivan et al. published in Nature Communications, which argues that four strategic drivers (digital capabilities, technology, infrastructure, and governance) are imperative to complete all of the 17 SDGs. It takes the Just Digital Ethical Framework to the next critical step, in which there needs to be a new SDG dedicated to these four drivers. This article is an exploratory study that uses a systems thinking approach and presents an 18th SDG called Digital Connection. Digital Connection focuses on the equitable distribution of digital wealth guided by the drivers. Understanding the relationship between these drivers and how they operate, where they are used, the pace of change, and systems’ ability to adapt are essential for sustainable development and to address the challenges that face society equitably and fairly. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable development; digital technologies; digital technologies in higher education; digital inclusion; United Nations; sustainable development goals sustainable development; digital technologies; digital technologies in higher education; digital inclusion; United Nations; sustainable development goals
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MDPI and ACS Style

Clark, S.; MacLachlan, M.; Marshall, K.; Morahan, N.; Carroll, C.; Hand, K.; Boyle, N.; O’Sullivan, K. Including Digital Connection in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Systems Thinking Approach for Achieving the SDGs. Sustainability 2022, 14, 1883. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031883

AMA Style

Clark S, MacLachlan M, Marshall K, Morahan N, Carroll C, Hand K, Boyle N, O’Sullivan K. Including Digital Connection in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Systems Thinking Approach for Achieving the SDGs. Sustainability. 2022; 14(3):1883. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031883

Chicago/Turabian Style

Clark, Serena, Malcolm MacLachlan, Kevin Marshall, Niall Morahan, Claire Carroll, Karen Hand, Neasa Boyle, and Katriona O’Sullivan. 2022. "Including Digital Connection in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Systems Thinking Approach for Achieving the SDGs" Sustainability 14, no. 3: 1883. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031883

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