[Day 2] OScH and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


  • Francois
  • Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy


  • Shuli
  • Marina
  • Leo
  • Mary
  • Louise
  • Anga
  • Anna
  • Moritz
  • Ryan



This session is about how OScH movement can address SDGs. From an historical perspective the Millenium Developments Goals (MDGs) announced in 2000 are a precedent of the SDGs, and they were not very successful. The SDGs announced in 2015 are more ambitious in number and despite they are not perfect, they are better than nothing. There is a general consensus that OScH can play a part in achieving most/all of these goals, not only by specific projects but also as a general approach to achieve the SDGs. There are milestones as how to access money ethically since there are not global funds and how to scale, not just growing in terms of number of units, money, etc. but by impact.

Some actions are proposed:

  • Survey to map out projects/goals and document/analysis about which SDGs are GOSH community projects related to
  • Work on the visualization about different aspects of GOSH
  • Integrate GOSH into Geneva/Tshingua (e.g., as residency programs)

Intro: why are you here?

  • how can OScH monitoring inform decision making?
  • want to discuss how we should prioritize these goals, how to handle internal contradictions?
  • ethics, human rights, open technologies
  • people curious about “what are the SDGs?” --> opportunity to raise awareness of these goals in our community
  • addressing data poverty issues
  • how can open source technology contribute to positive societal change
  • local manufacturing
  • alternative energy/solar power

Historical perspective

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

  • announced in 2000 and addressed 8 goals (e.g., end poverty, hunger, etc.)
  • deadline was 2015
  • made some progress, but in general they were considered a failure
  • Why? Top down planning, unclear targets, lack of a detailed plan

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • MDGs “version 2”
  • announced by United Nations in 2015 (right before 1st GOSH in 2016 @ CERN)


  • broadened scope including important topics like human development, climate change, environmental stewardship
  • concrete targets: e.g., “By 2030 reduce global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100k live births”
  • quantitative things we can measure (good in theory, but many indicators lack methodology and/or capacity to measure)


  • MDGs were a failure and new version is even more ambitious (17 goals + ~100 sub goals)
  • some conflicting goals (e.g., innovation and economic growth vs climate change, pollution, etc.)
  • still very top down
  • UN has limitations (i.e., many compromises to achieve agreement)
  • some important topics are missing (e.g., very little around refugee/migration)


  • SDGs are not perfect, but better than nothing
  • need to think critically about them
  • educating people about SDGs and contributing toward them is good, but to reach these goals we
  • What is the killer app for OScH? Can we as community make meaningful contribution to one or more of the SDGs?

List of the SDGs:

  1. End poverty
  2. End hunger
  3. Health
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Economic growth
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Reducing inequality
  11. Sustainable cities
  12. Responsible consumption
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals
  • general consensus that OScH can play a part in achieving most/all of these goals
  • would be great to collect information from our community on how
  • Action: survey GOSH community (use forum tools) about which SDG goals their projects are related to
  • How the movement in general is aligned with the SDGs (e.g., manifesto/roadmap)
  • Having a document will be helpful to people accessing funding, grants, etc.
  • How does “openness” make it different (how it can be an advantage, added value)
  • GOSH is community-based, grass roots organization, etc. which is fundamentally differs from other communities (e.g., VC-funded companies; 80% of HAX companies are contributing to SDGs)
  • In some countries, there is an issue of double-counting research funding and development/aid funding for SDGs
  • There’s no no global fund
  • Left up to each country how to work on SDGs
  • How do we access money ethically?
  • Won’t be able to make a real and meaningful contribution if we can’t scale (not just growing in terms of number of units, money, etc. but by impact)
  • Not just tick boxes (e.g., project contributes to this goal), but also how? How much?

Action items

  • Survey to map out projects/goals and document/analysis: Louise, Shuli, Ryan, Anna
  • Idea of “mapping/visualizing data” about different aspects of GOSH (part of LEARN section of the roadmap) seems to be common within across many GOSH sessions/workshops. Leo suggested an initiative/session where we do this (e.g., with post-it notes)
  • Integrate GOSH into Geneva/Tsinghua (e.g., residency program): Francois

Have there been any new developments post GOSH2018 in this? I wasn’t at GOSH2018, but this is very interesting. My current work looks at Open Data and OpenStreetMap through SDGs perspective. There could be areas of intersection. @francois @saibhaskar @ryanfobel

I took a video of @francois’s talk at the Shenzhen Maker Faire on this topic. Definitely worth a watch for anyone interested in this issue.

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