IGF 2020 WS #239 Sustainable Automation as SDG#18


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Reyansh Gupta, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Siya Tayal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Susheel Ladwa, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Piotr Henryk Skarzynski, Private Sector, Eastern European Group


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How will the developing and the developed world handles automation differently- What is the future of jobs 2. Without automation, which sectors can enhance productivity and create more jobs 3. Are profits directly related to the adoption of technology 4. If we exclude people from Profits, will technology be still relevant 5. Do women suffer more with technology adoption and what is the solution? 6. What is the role of local governments in preparing their workforce for the future 7. Do we require a major overhaul in our education systems to prepare for the future of jobs 8. Do we need a policy for Sustainable Automation and if yes, what should be the contours of such a policy

The biggest challenge before the world post-COVID will be to boost profitability and be prepared for such emergencies and make it less dependent on manual labor - which is automation. The issue is a sensitive one; on one side, it will boost productivity but on another side, the buying power of consumers will come down due to layoffs. It is expected that automation will take away 40 percent of the jobs. In such a scenario, we have to remember that we need to take care of 7.7 billion people and that cannot be without 'responsible or sustainable automation'. This panel discussion will take into account the prevailing scenario and discuss the opportunities in automation and the peel to which we must automate. Also, what are the skill sets we need to develop to upskill the current workforce? Finally, what will it take to make Automation as a Sustainable goal, that is sustainable automation


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


Post the COVID shutdown; automation will get fast-tracked. A few companies wanted to lay off people but could not are be using COVID as an excuse to layoff people. Post the COVID shutdown; automation will inevitably get fast-tracked. I think that the United Nations revisit its Sustainable Development goals and correct its mistake by adding another goal, SDG18, ‘Responsible Automation.’ Mad rush for automation will have a cascading effect, and this is not something the world is prepared for, given that we have 7.7 billion humans to cater to and sustain. Responsible automation is where we need a better understanding of the business community and political leadership that, ‘Profits’ with the ‘proliferation of technology’ should not be without ‘people.’ If we keep people out of the equation, the consequences would undermine all other SDGs and, maybe, render them irrelevant. It is time for the United Nations to have the most critical SDG, ‘Sustainable Automation,’ as an ‘intergenerational goal.’ It’s better late than never.

Expected Outcomes

We expect to come out with a discussion paper to start with. Then, we will work with various stakeholders to come out with a knowledge paper on 'Sustainable Automation- Future of Jobs'. This is likely to be based on a global survey which I will conduct with the attendees of IGF during the Poland meeting and online later. We will circulate the key findings to various governments We will also make a strong case for proposing 'Sustainable Automation' as SDG#18

Every speaker will be given a question to share their perspective in three minutes . We will have two such questions . Which will take about 30 minutes . Post that, the moderator will pose questions based on the flow of the discussion. After that , audience will be asked to make comments or share their experience and post questions, This is a major and important part of our panel discussion to evoke extensive participation from the audience and towards the end, the moderator will sum up the key points and the next steps.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Every country, small or big, developed or developing will need to handle the key question of Automation and upskilling their workforce. Without it, everyone will face a dilemma of creating jobs, balancing productivity, and profits. This is the right time to address this issue before the water flows over our heads The private sector will have to work with the civil society and their local governments to address this issue and also, develop a policy about 'Sustainable Automation'. It is about shared values, shared future.

Relevance to Theme: If we don't adopt Sustainable Automation, it will lead to the accumulation of profits in the hands of big tech giants. We have to ensure that people who are less skilled and don't have access to technology now, don't get left behind. Sustainable automation is about inclusiveness and equity. Lack of sustainable automation will endanger inclusivity at the global scale.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Skype Zoom Google hangouts