Future Tour in Berlin – „Innovation and the Digital Revolution Driving Sustainable Development“

April 21, 2016 | Future Tour | BMZ, Berlin, Gemany

On April 21, the Future Tour stopped over in Berlin to hold an event focused on technological and entrepreneurial solutions for sustainable global development. More than 300 people came out to „Radialsystem V“, a former pumping station, to explore ideas for social start-ups designed to improve living conditions for people worldwide. Engagement Global and the GIZ's Development Policy Forum organised the event.

Following State Secretary in the Berlin Senate Administration for Economic Affairs, Technology and Research Henner Bunde's opening address, Günter Nooke, the German Chancellor's Personal Representative for Africa and Commissioner for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), took to the podium to talk about the importance of the digital revolution for sustainable development in the Global South.

„The simplified concept of a digital gap between the rich Global North and the poor Global South is outdated,“ Nooke said, pointing to the rise of innovators and entrepreneurs developing new solutions in countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and Bolivia. According to Nooke, mobile financial services in particular were booming in such countries spurred by a lack of banks in rural regions. While pointing out that the digital revolution was making a valuable contribution to sustainable development, Nooke cautioned viewing it as a panacea: „Technology cannot solve all our problems. The Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring did not give rise to lasting democracies, unfortunately.“

Representatives from German social start-ups then took to the stage to present their latest solutions and approaches. Coolar showed off a refrigerator it developed to work without electricity. Given that around 75 percent of all vaccines in developing countries lose their effectiveness because they cannot be kept sufficiently and consistently cool, this new appliance is important for much more than just food storage. Klara Lindner from Mobisol discussed her company's ongoing efforts to provides homes in Africa with electricity generated by solar technology, thus driving digital development on the continent.

Moritz Eckert from betterplace lab researched digital trends in the social sector. He emphasised the importance of digitalisation for global development, noting that digital technologies increased the efficiency and effectiveness of development projects. Eckert pointed to some other advantages, such as cutting the cost of fundraising, and allowing users to evaluate and so help improve projects. He added that digitalisation was inspiring more people to get involved than ever before, before concluding, „we are digital optimists.“

The Future Workshop was held parallel to the discussion and offered a wide range of learning stations and workshops organised by civil society representatives.

Günter Nooke. Foto: GIZ

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