The sixth annual SDG impact report from the GSMA shows that the mobile industry increased its contribution to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2020 by 50%.
Despite the significant challenges posed by the global pandemic, the sector is halfway to maximizing its potential impact on the SDGs. However, progress cannot be taken for granted, as there are less than 10 years to achieve the 2030 SDG targets.
“As heads of state gather for the UN General Assembly, we call on world leaders, and the public and private sectors, to work together to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs. The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in many ways, so keeping the commitment to the SDGs has never been more important for governments and industries. Yet, we know that it will not be possible to attain the 2030 Agenda without mobile connectivity. It is our responsibility to collaborate in new ways that will maximize the industry’s potential,” said GSMA’s director general, Mats Granryd.
By the end of 2020, 5.2 billion people (67% of the global population) were using a mobile phone, representing an increase of 90 million people since 2019 while 4 billion people (51% of the global population) were also using the mobile internet, which is an increase of 220 million since 2019.
The mobile industry’s SDG contributions
Despite rising mobile data traffic, mobile networks delivered a 33% improvement in download speeds in 2020 due to increasing 4G adoption and 5G take-up. These improvements enhance the mobile industry’s SDG impact, as it enables mobile to be at the heart of a broad range of services designed to address society’s global challenges.
2.3 billion people (45% of mobile subscribers) used their phones to purchase goods and services, representing an increase of 300 million since 2019. During the pandemic, more people used mobile to purchase food and other essential products and services as they became less comfortable handling cash. This activity supports the mobile industry’s contribution to SDG3: Good Health; SDG4: Quality Education; SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Moreover, 2.6 billion people used mobile financial services, such as mobile banking and mobile money, an increase of 270 million people since 2019. Using mobile financial services helps create employment opportunities, raise productivity and formalize the economy, contributing to SDG 1: No Poverty and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Additionally, the mobile industry is making continued progress on disclosing climate data and setting targets for emissions reductions.