Niall Dunne explains the fundamental importance of connectivity for sustainability

The thin blue line of connectivity is absolutely critical to everyone’s future. That’s my takeaway from this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. Becoming hyperconnected is in all our interests. It has a critical role to play in dealing with all our big problems, be they social, environmental or economic. It’s a topic that connects farmers in Uganda with the imbalances across Europe.

At a dinner session entitled, “Grow Africa”, we heard about the need for real data to underpin pan-African sustainable growth from one of my heroes, Jeffrey Sachs, economist, professor, Director of The Earth Institute, and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General. He told us about how smallhold farmers all across Africa who get real-time market information on the spot price of wheat are empowered to determine their own future. They know the best time to sell and the best price to negotiate. He showed how Ethiopia’s agricultural revolution is being informed by a full data analysis of its value chain, first identifying soil deficiencies and then planning remedial action, training smallhold farmers and matching them with the right seed and fertilizer suppliers.

It’s hard not to be a fan of Neelie Kroes, and not just because she gave my boss, Ian Livingston, the “quote of the day” accolade in her blog about the Forum’s Annual Meeting.

As Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, she launched her Digital Skills initiative here in Davos. Neelie has identified the skills gap as one of the root causes of Europe’s economic uncertainty and social imbalance. Her strategy is to close the digital skills gap and the rest will soon follow. It will follow, of course, if the hyperconnectivity over which that knowledge can flow is in place.

I had lots of other conversations here in Davos about the fundamental importance of connectivity. Have a look at @bluNiall. But I started to wonder if these happened just because of who I work for. Were they inevitable?

After some introspection, I have to say “no”. It’s just so obvious that Niall Dunneand to keep the global solution-focused conversation – which is the ethos behind Davos – going 24 x 365.

Author: Niall Dunne is Chief Sustainability Officer at BT and previously led sustainability practices at Saatchi & Saatchi and Accenture and is participating at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013.

Image: REUTERS