Industry 4.0: How Does It Meet 2030 SDGs’ Agenda By Creating A Sustainable Future and Job Opportunity?Industry 4.0 is characterized by a broad vision, integrating cyber-physical systems with digital automation through advanced cybersecurity, cloud computing, M2M, 3D printing, AR, big data/analytics, IoT, RFID, Cognitive computing, and other technologies.
With the world and humanity in danger, the fourth industrial revolution is expected to work as strong leverage in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
With a total of 17 Global Goals:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life On Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnership for the Goals
How will Industry 4.0 create a sustainable future and provide job opportunities, to meet the 2030 Agenda of SDGs?
Although newly invented technologies that comprise the fourth revolution still have plenty of unknown potential impact, what’s sure is that IR4.0, with the right policy, will contribute to the achievement of SDGs, creating a sustainable future and job growth.
Several new technologies that are proven to support and improve the SDG may include but are not limited to:
- Online health care to provide more public access to health care
- 3D printing to decrease production environmental footprint
- Hybrid or electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions
- Data Analytics to guide, monitor, and prevent climate action, industry, infrastructure, etc.
- Recycled material and renewable resources in manufacturing and production for sustainable development
There are various other roles of industrial and manufacturing technology in sustainable development, most of which aim for recycling efforts, waste minimization, material alternatives or substitution, production processes streamlining, pollution control, and many more.
Circular Economy and Sustainability
Industry 4.0 leads this generation along with the new model of Circular Economy. The idea of CE primarily focuses on a regenerative and restorative economy model using industrial processes. The point is to share, lease, reuse, repair, refurbish, as well as recycle resources and materials or products as much and as long as possible. Why? CE and sustainability come hand in hand with many related structures and models, the reason for this is to promote resource cycles. Where sustainability focuses on the technical aspect, circular economy helps as a systemic approach to benefit businesses, society, and parallelly, the environment.
There are three principles to the circular economy: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
By overlooking the ‘take-make-waste’ linear industrial model, the circle economic model redefines growth socially, economically, and ecologically with a focus on more social benefits.
Industry 4.0 powers through with data-enabled machinery and technologies. Here, speed, flexibility, and mechanism efficiency are considered priorities in manufacturing high-quality goods at reduced costs. This automatically affects the economy. Where products are delivered faster, at a better price, industrial growth, modification, and shift in economics are inevitable.
Meanwhile, circular economy powers through services and products that are designed to be reused and recycled, both in technical and biological aspects. The idea is to break down any product that is no longer productive and refabricate it into a newly regenerated product. With the right infrastructure and systemic approach, both IR4.0 and CE can be leveraged in a synchronized method so that it results in a positive and sustainable future.
Impact On Job, Income, Growth
Many studies and assessments have been conducted to undertake green recovery work for jobs, income, and growth, one of which was done by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), According to their policy brief, a green recovery will significantly enhance the resilience of economies and societies in the face of both the severe recession and accelerating environmental challenges.The OECD believes that measuring and evaluating the environmental impacts of recovery policies over time is crucial, and a set of indicators, covering a broad array of critical environmental dimensions, is proposed for this purpose.
So while we face the social consequences of COVID-19, how can we maintain the performance of IR4.0 and CE for the purpose of SDGs?
With the various technology channels that are being deployed to recover the society and environment, more ‘green’ projects are creating more employment opportunities. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that renewable energy could employ more than 40 million people by 2050 and that total energy sector employment can reach 100 million by 2050. Whereas in the energy efficiency sector, IEA estimates a potential employment opportunity of up to 2.5 million new jobs per year. Although robotic and AI technology provides a seamless process by cutting down manpower and HR, this doesn’t close the opportunity for nature-related jobs, which is an essential part of the world’s green recovery. From an aspect, having a systemic approach to both the manufacturing and production industry, not only helps open employment opportunities but also eliminates education, age, or gender barrier, as digital processes no longer require a specific qualification, but can be trained and taught through a series of knowledge transfer.
Thus also improves gender equality, quality education, and reduces inequalities as part of the SDGs.As we transition to a greener economy, new skills, emerging jobs, increased income, and economic growth will slowly be available through a trained workforce, and major bottlenecks such as skill gaps and shortages will dissolve in most sectors such as manufacturing, construction, renewable energy, and resource efficiency, production, and industrial services.
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Article inspired from Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Intechopen, IAF, OECD, IRENA, IEA, and UNDP.