“Tech & Sustainability: Everyone’s Included” forum: Huawei announces Seeds for the Future Program 2.0, planning to invest US$150 million in talent development over the next five years,

Huawei held a “Tech & Sustainability: Everyone’s Included” forum, co-hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Representatives from Huawei, IUCN, the World Economic Forum, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), and Singapore Institute of International Affairs participated to discuss the role of technology in driving sustainability and building a more inclusive, eco-friendly world.

At the forum, Huawei also released its 2020 Sustainability Report and announced its Seeds for the Future Program 2.0, through which Huawei plans to invest US$150 million in digital talent development over the next five years. This program is expected to benefit more than 3 million additional people. Huawei also released its Innovation: Blood, Sweat and Dreams documentary series, which pays tribute to technological innovators and conservationists.

Promoting equal access to education and talent development
“Digital skills and literacy are not just the foundation for the digital economy; they are also a basic human right defined by the United Nations,” said Huawei’s chairman Liang Hua at the forum. “Today we are announcing Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Program 2.0. As part of our commitment to continuously developing talent, we will invest US$150 million in this program over the next five years and help college students and young people improve their digital skills. This program is expected to benefit more than 3 million additional people.”

Huawei is committed to helping develop digital talent in the countries where it operates. In 2008, Huawei began to roll out talent development programs, through scholarships, technology competitions, and digital skills training, and has invested more than US$150 million in these programs. Huawei has since benefited more than 1.54 million people from over 150 countries.

According to a 2020 report by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), about 2.2 billion people aged 25 years or younger still lack internet connections at home. This has undoubtedly exacerbated the digital divide plaguing many of the world’s most vulnerable. Speaking at the Forum, Ban Ki Moon Center for Global Citizenship board member and former UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova highlighted this concern saying; “The digital divide impacts women more than men. Women have less access to the internet and this gap is widening. Women are now four times less likely than men to be digitally literate and represent just 6 per cent of software developers. 170 years are needed to close the economic gender gap between men and women.”

Huawei’s senior Vvce president of Global Government Affairs, Afke Schaart, also spoke at the event about how digital technologies will play an integral role in promoting inclusiveness and equality, saying, “From our 2020 Sustainability Report, you can see that Huawei had launched programs like HUAWEI4HER and TECH4HER to help women improve their ICT skills and promote gender equality across the industry.”

Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) Senior Advisor and Mission Innovation’s Net-Zero Compatible Innovation Initiative head, Dennis Pamlin pointed out that digitalization has greatly reduced the cost of education and information access, and digital solutions will help transform education systems worldwide. Online teaching has already become the new normal, creating new opportunities for global education systems.

Addressing environmental challenges and enabling green development
“Green and sustainable development has become a top priority for global economies,” said Liang. “Huawei has been leveraging its extensive experience in power electronics and energy storage as well as technical expertise in 5G, cloud, and AI, to develop its digital power business and provide digital power solutions for different industries. As of December 2020, Huawei’s digital power products and solutions have generated 325 billion kWh of electricity from renewable sources, and saved a total of 10 billion kWh of electricity. These efforts have resulted in a reduction of 160 million tons in CO2 emissions.”

ICT technologies are important enablers of energy conservation and emissions reduction in other industries. It is estimated that the reduction in carbon emissions in other industries enabled by ICT technologies will be 10 times the amount of carbon emitted by the ICT industry itself. Tao Jingwen, Huawei’s board member and chairman of its Corporate Sustainable Development Committee, said; “Huawei is committed to promoting green integrated ICT solutions to help other industries conserve energy and cut emissions. We are playing an active role in building an energy-efficient, eco-friendly low-carbon society.”

During his speech at the forum, IUCN director-general, Dr Bruno Oberle emphasised the role digital technologies can play in conserving biodiversity and protecting threatened species, saying; “Can we find a balance and harmony between humans and nature? Yes, we believe so and technology can be an important part of the solution and can help us solve global challenges if used correctly and smartly.” Since 2020, IUCN and Huawei have worked together on the Tech4Nature project, which aims to conserve nature globally more efficiently with digital technology.

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