SDG9- Master Class

"Reimagine What We Build”

On February 11th, 2020, Dr. Ying Zhang and Meiny Prins, the CEO of Priva, individually held presentations during the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Insights event at RSM’s Woudestein campus in Rotterdam. The event “Reimagine What We Build” was centered around the 9th SDG – industry, innovation, and infrastructure. It aimed to discuss why industries tend to be behind in adopting new technologies, despite the growing focus and progress on improving technologies, and questioned whether faster adoption would be the best way to facilitate solving global challenges and innovate towards a better quality of life.

In the first presentation, CEO Meiny Prins stated how she was convinced that, with the help of new technologies, there is still time to turn around the disastrous impacts of the old economy on the planet. However, the choice to do so is ours. She further explained how humans often maintain systems, such as subsidized fossil fuel usage, that benefit the profit of various large companies at the expense of the planet’s well-being. In order to work towards sustainability, improved technologies must be available and affordable. Priva is a high-tech company that develops hardware, software, and services that revolve around climate control, energy saving, and water reuse. With over 450 partners and services in 100 countries, Priva strives to contribute in developing ‘Sustainable Urban Deltas’ – cities where its inhabitants can enjoy a healthy working and living environment. 

The second presentation conducted by Dr. Ying Zhang focused on the role of the 9th SDG by comparing it alongside the other 16 SDGs, considering current phenomena, analyzing fundamental sources of failure, and proposing possible solutions.

Dr. Zhang mentioned how there have been multiple occurrences of global issues in the past year – or month even. For instance, one of the prominent topics today is the coronavirus. The virus, which originally began in China, led the world into panic and fear. As China is a major player in the world economy, this had significant impacts on not only its own country, but others as well. Currently, the Chinese market lost $445 Billion solely from coronavirus fear, and that the USA expects at least a 0.4% decrease in its GDP. Not only does the virus affect global economies, but also Chinese citizens. There have been an increase in the news reports of discrimination against Chinese and Asian-looking individuals. Dr. Zhang brings this issue to light and believes that when a deathful threat is among all humans, discrimination is not the answer. The classical capitalism-based social-economic structure focuses on technology and the environment while neglecting humanity. However, Dr. Zhang disagrees and implies that it should be the reverse There needs to be a greater emphasis on humanity as it is the only aspect that separates us from animals and how the lack of it prevents progress.

In the proposed solution, comparative advantage will no longer be the reason of globalization. Instead, sustainability (i.e. panel and well-being), will be the abstract of measures. The new version of globalization utilizes circular economy, with an emphasis on connection and collaboration, in hopes of moving towards an inclusiveness-focused sustaining innovation. Dr. Zhang also introduces the “Humanity-Ecosystem Equilibrium” which states the importance of a balance between education for sustainable development and prioritization of humanity. It is essential to incorporate humanity in every step: technology, innovation, power, infrastructure/industry, and environment.