In 2017, the UN Global Compact and its 2030Vision partners reported that digital technology—particularly open source—would be instrumental in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unlocking an additional $2.1 trillion in annual revenue for the technology sector alone by 2030. The United Nations introduced these 17 SDGs in its “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” described as “a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity.” The SDGs build on the eight Millennium Development Goals as well as UN Global Compact’s measures of corporate governance in terms of the environment, human rights, labor, and anti-corruption.
We started the Linux Foundation Sustainability Initiative to understand how our projects map to these different dimensions of sustainable development. By capturing where and how our projects are having impact, we can see where the LF community can direct resources to broaden and deepen these efforts.
An extensive landscape review of all Linux Foundation projects, substantiated by interviews with experts in the community, illuminates a massive and diverse portfolio of digital public goods all contributing in unique ways to the SDGs. Alongside the efforts of the projects it hosts, the Linux Foundation itself creates the infrastructure – legal structures, funding, community development, governance models —that makes sustainable development possible.
Open Source for Sustainability
Read more about this landscape of Linux Foundation projects and how they play a vital role in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals in this important research report.
Spotlight: Quality education
In our preliminary analysis, we found that many projects and programs create and publish open content of some kind. Here we highlight the free educational material available to visitors on the Linux Foundation’s site. The courses are available in English on the LF website and worldwide on edX’s platform, where 80 percent of its learners live outside North America. edX’s Spanish-language platform reaches six million learners worldwide (though we have not yet confirmed how many Linux courses are available through that platform). Courses are also available in Japanese and Chinese on those respective LF sites.
With the global reach of LF free courses and other open content, learners can access practical training, pursue certifications, and put their new skills and knowledge to work within the LF ecosystem—in support of gender parity (SDG 5), decent work (SDG 8), and reduced inequalities (SDG 10).
Spotlight: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
The portfolio of digital innovation (SDG 9) under the Linux Foundation’s umbrella can help catalyze innovation across the other SDGs. Below are four examples of projects that combine technology in such a way as to support a variety of use cases.
Members of the AgStack community are building out accessible, reusable digital infrastructure tailored to agriculture. With open data, AI modeling, and software applications, farmers can manage such resources as water and field workers more effectively, and make data-driven decisions to balance supply and demand. AgStack puts the know-how of other farmers at their fingertips, helping them to reduce poverty, hunger, and economic inequalities, increase the resilience of their communities and business models, and reduce their impact on the climate and their land.
Contributors to the Zephyr project are building out small, scalable, real-time operating systems optimized for resource-constrained networks of devices. Such networks will help users to spin up an Internet of Things across multiple architectures, reduce their costs, and accelerate the launch of new products and services. Members of the Zephyr community imagine billions of connected embedded devices—simple connected sensors, LED wearables, modems, and small wireless gateways—that work to improve health and create decent jobs and equal opportunities on one hand, and support diverse business models and markets on the other, with monitoring tools to strengthen institutions.
The Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) combats the ubiquity of fake news and other misleading information online by developing open standards for certifying the source and provenance of media content. A project of the Joint Development Foundation, C2PA gives consumers and publishers tools for understanding whether different types of media are authentic and their sources, genuine, whether it’s coverage of climate science, election results, healthcare, or labor practices.
OS-Climate is developing a software platform to boost funding of climate change mitigation and resilience initiatives that will make a measurable difference across the SDGs. The platform integrates open data, models, computing, and data science into a physical-economic model. Enhanced by artificial intelligence, this model will function like an operating system, helping to match investment capital with financial products to manage and mitigate climate-related risk.
Spotlight: Partnerships for the goals
A key challenge of open source asset development is the proliferation of duplicate or similar projects in sandboxes or incubation. This could lead to a competition for resources and a fragmentation of solutions in the absence of standards and market mechanisms.
By organizing projects and programs in common domains such as networking, AI and data, energy, edge computing, and blockchain technologies under their own umbrellas, the Linux Foundation helps to cross-pollinate ideas, curate conversations among project teams, and steward those that community deems most promising, ultimately freeing up talent and funding.
How LF Networking Contributes to SDG17By the numbers
- LF Networking launched in 2018
- 83 active member organizations
- 9.41K active contributors
- 77 projects as of March 2023
Key benefitConsolidation of substantial initiatives under LF Networking to mitigate fragmentation
2023 Open Source Sustainability Ecosystem
This report provides qualitative and quantitative insights into the landscape of open source sustainability projects, identifying those having the biggest impact, as well as gaps that stakeholders across the energy industry should look to fill.
Spotlight: LF Energy and the
Open Source Sustainability Landscape
There are hundreds of energy-related technology projects hosted by the Linux Foundation and elsewhere in areas of sustainability including energy infrastructure, carbon accounting, natural resources monitoring, and industrial ecology. LF Energy has developed a landscape to outline the details on each project and where they fit in the overall sustainability tech stack. This landscape builds on the work of Open Sustainable Technology.
Opportunities to contribute
Building on the LF community’s significant work toward the SDGs, we have room for greater participation. In particular, we can contribute to SDG 6 and SDG 14 through projects that focus on the following:
- Safe and affordable drinking water
- Sanitation and hygiene, with special attention to the needs of women, girls, and those in vulnerable situations
- Water quality, recycling, and reuse
- Water-use efficiency across sectors
- Integrated water resources management
- Water-related ecosystems (e.g., lakes, rivers, forests, etc.)
- Reduction of marine pollution
- Marine and coastal ecosystem resilience
- Impact of ocean acidification
- Science-based management plans for fish stocks
- Data-driven conservation of coastal and marine areas
- Management of fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism