Looking into the future is always difficult and often problematic—but sometimes it’s useful to imagine what innovations might resolve today’s problems and make tomorrow better. In a new book, “Breakthrough: The Promise of Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development,” 15 experts examine how technology could affect the human condition and natural world within the next 10 years. Their stories reflect major ambitions and offer a glimpse into the possibilities for achieving the U.N.’s ambitious sustainable development goals. It is clear that gradualist approaches will not achieve the goals by 2030. Breakthroughs will be necessary in science, in the development of new products and services, and in institutional systems.
On December 9, the Center for Sustainable Development at Brookings and the JICA Ogata Research Institute hosted a virtual event to highlight big ideas from the book. Co-editors Homi Kharas and Izumi Ohno first presented an overview of the book. Then, co-editor John McArthur moderated a discussion with contributors.