Embracing flexibility on UN World Development Information Day

Embracing flexibility on UN World Development Information Day

Flexible working can be a force for positive change in developing nations, and help overcome barriers to employment

2020 will mark 70 years since the United Nations (UN) was founded after the Second World War. The UN was not only created as a forum for resolving international conflicts, but also to boost co-operation between countries when solving international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. It has a mandate to champion respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all too, regardless of race, sex, language, or religion. Today, it remains the world’s largest intergovernmental organisation, comprising all 193 of the world’s sovereign states.

On 24th October, 1970, the UN adopted its International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade, to promote sustainable economic growth particularly in developing nations. Then, two years later, the UN created World Development Information Day to be celebrated on the same date, to raise awareness about development problems around the world by spreading information on these issues. The idea was to inform and motivate the global population – particularly young people – to demand solutions, placing pressure on international governments to collaborate and address them.

When the UN’s first World Development Information Day took place, its participants could only have imagined how different international trade would look in 2019. Moving with the times, the most recent iterations have focused on the role tech has to play in not only alerting people to global issues, but in creating solutions to economic and social barriers to growth and prosperity in developing nations.

To say that technology has transformed the global way of working would be an understatement. Geographical limitations have been rendered obsolete thanks to the internet. In areas of the world where jobs are scarce, or transport systems are unreliable, setting up an internet connection empowers citizens to work remotely. By removing the need for people to commute from rural areas or faraway suburbs to a city centre, and instead enabling them to plug in and develop a digital career, nations are finding positive solutions to age-old problems. Quite simply, a more flexible way of working means more people can enter the job market.

The pace of technological change has also certainly been a catalyst for international trade. It’s made it possible for businesses to work across different nations, enter new markets and hire talented employees all over the world. The digital nature of today’s job roles means that, often, employees don’t have to be in the same time zone, let alone the same place to work together as a team. As a result, global companies can grow their network by expanding into new regions and employing local talent on more flexible terms.

Taking Africa’s tech boom as an example, it’s clear that the digitalisation of the worldwide workforce is good news for developing nations. Global companies looking to expand into African locations are investing in local infrastructure – such as mobile broadband and fiberoptic cable – creating more online-based jobs that can be carried out on a more flexible basis, and therefore creating opportunities that simply didn’t exist before.

In terms of spreading the word about international issues that need addressing, there’s never been a World Development Information Day better than 2019. Thanks to social media and digital news, we all have information about the state of the world at our fingertips, in our personal online worlds. But, aside from finding out about the world’s problems, it’s also easier than ever to see progress, and to challenge old, outdated perceptions. There’s more representation of dynamic business destinations, burgeoning startup hubs, and international entrepreneurs and innovations, to show how truly globalised our world has become.

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