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Sachs Applauds Mobile Phones as Key to LMICs' Poverty Eradication

At the Solve conference held October 5-8, 2015, Earth Institute's Director at Columbia University and special advisor to UN Secretary General, economist Jeffrey Sachs, provided the rationale and targeted outcomes for the UN's post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, 2015-2030). The 17 SDGs constitute a fifteen-year road map that follows on the outcomes of the eight 2000-2015 Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) that concentrate world leaders' priorities and development funding streams around the UN consensus derived, most pressing global challenges. The SDGs differ from MDGs in expanding the agenda for development under the umbrella mission of eradicating extreme poverty. In this context, Sachs pronounced the mobile phone revolution as the game changer in reducing poverty in low and middle resources countries (LMICs).

With the SDGs focus on reducing inequalities, including the growing income gaps that have been worsened by advancing digital technologies, Sachs emphasizes the most important solution as “universal access to quality education” --a continued global goal from the MDGs designed to ensure access to school for typically marginalized populations; i.e., girls, children with disabilities, those in fragile conflict states and extreme poverty.

'...Sachs pointed to recent successes. Globally, only about 10 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty; in Africa the number is down to 35 percent. “Technology has absolutely had a leading role,....Nothing has been as important as the mobile phone.” (MIT Technology Review).

The Solve conference held Oct. 5-8, 2015 'convene(d) technologists, philanthropists, business leaders, policy makers, and change agents to examine and address the problems where technology, business innovation, and smart policy can be leveraged to bring about real and lasting change.' (http://solve.mit.edu/). Solve, a week-long city-wide festival, celebrates ideas and innovation in the Boston area hosted by MIT, Harvard University, The Boston Globe, and Mass General Hospital.