Based on the most comprehensive analysis to date, our report shows a strong and positive link between digital access and SDG achievement. This clear correlation is consistently found for 65% of the SDGs across all development levels (developed regions, developing regions, Least Developed Countries) and geographies. The SDGs with the strongest correlations are SDG 3 on health, 8 on growth, and 9 on innovation and infrastructure; the link between access and SDG achievement is strongest in Africa.
11 out of 17 SDGs (65%) have a positive link with digital access. The strongest positive link is found for social SDGs (improving people’s quality of life) and economic SDGs (fostering equitable growth), reflecting the people-centric nature of digital technologies and their potential to increase participation and create new business models driving prosperity for all.
Social SDGs include SDG 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), and 16 (peace and justice, strong institutions).
Economic SDGs include SDG 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), and 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure.
From a digital access perspective, SDG achievement is strongly linked with the quality of the infrastructure for connectivity, the actual use of that connectivity, and technologies such as social media. More information on this perspective can be found in the Digital Access Index section.
The analysis reveals a mixed picture for environmental SDGs, with the only negative link between access and achievement being that of SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. This points to the need to further improve the efficient use of resources and the reduction of waste in order to compensate for the fast uptake of digital technologies and products (see also the Industry Impact section).
At the indicator level, a negative correlation is found between access and CO2 emissions from energy; however, when we look at the impact of digital on overall CO2 emissions (and not just energy-related), the net impact is a positive one. This is in line with the findings of the GeSI SMART series of reports.
Further information on the net positive impact of digital on emissions can be found in the Deep dives section.
For a number of SDGs (10, 13, 14, 15, 17), the relationship between digital access and achievement is still unclear.
The Digital Access Index developed as part of this project is intended to be a dynamic tool, to be updated as new solutions and related indicator data emerge;
this should help clarify the direction of the correlation between access and achievement for these SDGs.
The x-axis shows digital access as measured by GeSI's new Digital Access Index (DAI).
The y-axis illustrates SDG achievement as measured by the SDG Index of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Foundation.
The dots represent the results of the correlation analysis for these two variables. The strength of the correlation is indicated by the R2 value, which ranges between 0 and 1. An R2 value of 0 indicates a very weak relationship between access and SDG progress, an R2 value of 1 indicates an extremely strong correlation.
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