The Era We Are Discovering

The world is changing fast. Nothing except our humanity will be the same in the next 100 years from now. We are continuously in development and as humans full of dignity, we have to fight and develop ourselves in a manner which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In this scenario, it is critically important to consider for future generations the economic, social, and environmental aspects of development. However, from my point of view, those three pillars will be considered in a completely different way the day after tomorrow.

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According to the World Youth Alliance White Paper on Sustainable Development, there is a global tendency to see population growth as a threat against sustainable development. It is an easy mistake because when many people hear the concept “population growth”, the first thing that comes to mind is: “more people applying for jobs, ergo less job opportunity per number of inhabitants”. Additionally, natural resources are thought to be few and far between, therefore, the more people we have in this world, the more mouths we will need to feed before we eventually run out of food. Human resources can seem limited if we put ourselves in a prehistoric mindset. However, if you put yourself in the shoes of an innovator, you will understand that the technological advances of human beings have given us the ability to discover and create what was not there before. In other words, people are multiplying their own natural resources through technology. 

In the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, it was affirmed that humans are at the center of concern for sustainable development. The goal is for people to live healthy and productive lives in harmony with nature. The next generations need humans to be the main and principal resource in order to achieve holistic sustainable development. If we want to see a world where humans advance efficiently, population growth must be at the center. According to Juan Martinez Barea, MBA MIT, the three pillars that will lead to sustainable development are technological acceleration, hyper-connectivity era, and emerging world. People hold the key to these concepts. 

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Every day, technology is transforming the way we work, rest, relax, and commute… The way we live has completely changed during the last 100 years and it is much more efficient than before. The use of robots and artificial intelligence is one way which has increased efficiency. For example, Google presented a self-driving car with the potential to eliminate common human error while driving. It could prevent millions of car accidents that occur yearly on account of basic human error. Another way to increase efficiency has been to implement cheaper, better-working solar panels. In the future, renewable energy will become cheaper than any fossil-fuel energy. Presently, more than 1.5 billion people in the world live with no electricity. Through sustainable technological advances, we can have world-wide energy equality. 

This reality need not be exclusive to developed countries but should be widely available for everyone. Nevertheless, that cannot happen without policies to ensure that these technologies are accessible to all and are used in person-centered ways. It is crucial to regulate this new robotic era that is emerging so that it promotes human progress rather than sets us back. Considering new job opportunities, future workers must learn new skills for an appropriate management of these novel rolls. 

The internet has changed the world but it has not yet reached the end. Thanks to this incredible resource created by humans, we are hyper-connected to each other in a way that allows companies from opposite poles of the world to compete and collaborate with each other. Geography will no longer be a condition for job opportunities since everyone will be connected. A lady born in India will have as many job opportunities as a lady born in London and this is great.

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Many societies may struggle to take advantage of these technological advances because there is a lack of consideration to a holistic sustainable development which puts human beings in the center. They must first solved this issue by strategic policies, namely effective social and economical management, promoting a flourishing society by fostering good character, good regulation, and good management of economic shifts, among other aspects. Hopefully, these communities will arise from their slumber with the energy and motivation to take part in this new world that is coming. Developing countries host more than 3 billion people that will be ready to open new markets, create innovative products, and run competent companies. Since people are the most valuable resource this world has, emerging countries will lead the world, together with the already developed countries, and make it a better place for all. 

The truth is that everything is changing so fast. We need to be aware that this is the best moment of human history. I remember reading about the first paper printer invented in 1938 by Chester Carlson. It is breathtaking how far we have come in less than 100 years. We are now able to print three dimensional samples in metal. Together with my research group PROCOMAME (Materials Science and Engineering Department) from Barcelona Tech, we center our research around new 3 dimensional metal printing methods for low and medium-income companies so as to transversally weave a technological growth across the world. 

The gap between past and current technological advances is definitely getting shorter and shorter. This is not a threat to our well-being but an opportunity. We now have to react quickly and wisely so we can understand every new step we can take. As we struggle to put our humanity at the front, we must acknowledge the value of every single human being. We have the full potential to make this world a better place where human dignity shines in our innovation, education and motivation. Together, with our kind and innovation, we are about to create a world that is safer and more favorable for all.

Published on August 16, 2019
Written by Alfons Riera Brell, a WYA Headquarters intern from Spain