Technology for development: Skiing on a grass slope?

When world leaders at a United Nations conference agreed last month in Addis Ababa on how to finance international development over the next 15 years, the news made scant headlines.

Fundamental questions remain regarding how the international community will achieve the new sustainable development goals, which will be formally adopted by the United Nations in September. And an even more crucial part of international development has been left unexplored: how to improve the efficiency and impact of the money spent on projects on the ground.

New technology can help increase efficiency as we move toward the SDGs, but only if the development sector is willing to embrace some fundamental reforms to the long-standing structure and approaches that have evolved during the last 60 years, largely during a nondigital era. To help put this change in technologies into perspective, imagine you live on a mountain slope. You’ve lived there all your life and over the years, you have perfected the art of getting down that slope on your feet, quickly and without falling.

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