UNIDO and partners released a report exploring the role of Industry 4.0 for accelerating the global transition towards sustainable energy.
The study finds that Industry 4.0 has the potential to produce innovative approaches to address global challenges, but cautions that its limits and risks to sustainable development must be better understood.
Among other conclusions, it highlights that enhanced use of information and communication technologies could yield benefits for multiple SDGs.
30 August 2017: Industry 4.0 refers to the rapid spread of digital technology applications, such as big data, internet of things, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, into all areas of manufacturing. The expected result is a step-change not unlike the invention of the steam engine; however, it is unclear how this revolution could contribute to addressing global issues and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the German Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Indonesian Sustainability and Resilience Think Tank (su-re.co), has released a report exploring the role of Industry 4.0 for SDG implementation, focusing on its potential to accelerate the global transition towards sustainable energy.
Industry 4.0 has the potential to produce innovative solutions to global issues. The SDGs can provide guidance in realizing this potential.
The report investigates two primary transition pathways: retrofitting of existing systems to improve energy efficiency in developed countries (transforming); and sustainable industrialization in developing countries (leapfrogging). While the study finds that Industry 4.0 has the potential to produce innovative ways to address global challenges, it cautions that its limits and its risks to sustainable development must be better understood. The publication identifies economic and energy saving opportunities of interconnected manufacturing, noting that the SDGs could provide guidance in realizing these opportunities. The conclusions also highlight that enhanced use of information and communication technologies could have a ‘multiplier effect’ yielding benefits for several SDGs, especially SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy) and SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure).
The report recommends that: countries provide suitable framework conditions for innovation while protecting existing standards; governments be more agile in adopting policies that protect citizens and the environment against potential adverse impacts; and decision-makers at all levels adopt policies to prevent adverse impacts on equality.
The executive summary also outlines UNIDO’s role, including its capacity to serve as a knowledge-sharing and project development platform, its ability to enable transformation and leapfrogging processes; and its experience in establishing partnerships with the private sector. [UNIDO Press Release][IASS Press Release][Publication: Accelerating Clean Energy through Industry 4.0: Manufacturing the Next Revolution]