Global Grand Challenges: Why your unique talents are in demand!

We live in a time of extraordinary advances in science and technology. Thanks to relentless human innovation and increasing computational power that moves at neck-breaking speed, what is possible today may have seemed like fiction just a few years ago. And yet, at the same time, we live in a time of mass deforestation, child poverty, and refugee crises. The fact is that today millions of people lack access to basic needs like water, sanitation, and education. Over the next few months, we will dive into the global grand challenges beyond just statistics to look at the human face of these challenges.

In each post, I will explore the complex relationships between these challenges given that it is often difficult to untangle cause and effect. For example, deforestation is related to intensive agricultural practices, and at the same time, agriculture may affect soil and water quality that lead to further deforestation. Likewise, poverty can be the result of lack of education, but in many communities girls are forced to drop out of school to work in the fields or assist getting water from the fields, further widening the gap of gender equality. These are “wicked problems” that do not always have straightforward origins or solutions.

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The UN has identified seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG) to solve these challenges:

SDG 1: No Poverty

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

SDG 10: Reduced Inequality

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 14: Life Below Water

SDG 15: Life on Land

SDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

SDG 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

In the digital age, the accessibility of science and technology has made it possible to tackle these challenges through the democratization and decentralization of resources. Hence, I want to focus on the technological and financial innovations that are emerging to solve these challenges. These articles will leverage the growing interests in social entrepreneurship, exponential technology, makers movement, community innovation, and human-centered design thinking that is taking place. For example, Onesmart.city builds tools for cities and citizens to create policy solutions for sustainable urban growth, all this, using Artificial Intelligence. Another example is how UNICEF plans to use Blockchain for tracking the payments of partners and frontline workers to increase transparency in projects they fund. They are accepting proposals for other uses of Blockchain in their functions.

Source: Steve Estvanik/Shutterstock

My goal is to engage individuals that reject the zero-sum-game paradigm and who want to see our collective talents applied to address these issues in our time. Here is the bottom line — we are being called to solve these wicked problems for which we have no roadmaps; solving today’s complex problems will require innovative collaborations and engaged citizens. More and more people are choosing to explore the unique talents and surprising potential of individuals because they are tired of the cultivating passive actors as oppose to protagonists. So whether you are a scientist, artist, hacker, or a little of all, your unique talents and perspective are in high demand to solve these grand challenges. Join us!