MWC Shanghai 2021 will be remembered both as a significant and historic event for GSMA as it celebrated the return of in-person events since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to go on lockdown.
Held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, MWC Shanghai 2021 is also the first-of-its-kind experience that combines live in-person interaction as well as elements, which might become the new normal not only for technological events but other trade fairs and conventions as well.
About 20,000 visitors and more than 200 exhibitors attend the event, with a major focus on how to empower more business with the next generation of wireless technologies. The GSMA also holds a bullish view on the deployment of 5G in 2021, forecasting that by the end of the year, the technology – with billions of US dollars worth of investment – will reach one in five people. This could help the global economy overcome the effects of the pandemic.
As such the guests in the venue were joined by thousands of other virtual attendees from all over the world who logged in to the MWCS Online website to join the discussions, gain insights and witness technology innovations that are shaping our future.
“Today marks an important milestone for Asia’s mobile industry and the wider region’s economy. MWC Shanghai 2021 is the first hybrid event of its kind bringing innovations and ideas to attendees in-person and online,” said John Hoffman, CEO GSMA Ltd.
The theme of MWC Shanghai 2021 is ‘Connected Impact’, and the agenda showcases how the digital ecosystem supports global recovery and transforms lives. Sessions on 5G Connectivity, Connected Industry, AI and Start-up Innovation with other exciting features like the 5G Innovation Zone and the Digital Leaders Program are highly anticipated.
“It’s been a tough 12 months but a path to a post-pandemic world is starting to emerge. Importantly, 5G and mobile communications sit at the heart of that recovery,” said Mats Granryd. “We’re already planning for the return of MWC Barcelona this summer. The momentum created in Shanghai will be carried on to the Barcelona event, which will mark the next step forward for our industry.”
One of the highlights of the MWC Shanghai 2021 was the Connected for Shared Prosperity forum where government representatives and industry leaders discussed Digital Tech and , Sustainable Development.
The forum was hosted by Huawei, GSMA, the Center for Environmental Economic Studies at Fudan University, and The Paper with the support of UNESCO.
Among the governmental ministers which gave their keynote speeches at the forum were Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism María Reyes Maroto, Portuguese Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Pedro Nuno Santos, Hungarian Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia Dato’ Saifuddin bin Abdullah, and the Thai Secretary-General of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission Vunnaporn Devahastin all spoke at the event.
All speakers agreed that the global economic recovery is increasing instep with greater enforcement of pandemic control measures. They also agreed that reductions in emissions, more jobs, and more initiatives in facilitating prosperity are needed to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. Multiple speakers identified digital technologies and global collaboration as essential in this process.
Huawei Senior Vice President and Director of the Board Catherine Chen also delivered a keynote speech at the forum. She stated Huawei’s belief that the ultimate goal of technology is to benefit all humans, and that digital technologies can facilitate the UN SDGs. She called on enterprises to take firm action to use technology to create more value for the world as a whole.
Huawei has long been an advocate for supporting technological advancement. In 2020, Huawei recycled over 4,500 tons of electronic waste Through multiple initiatives including a reduction of plastics in their phone packaging (1.8 million shopping bags of plastic saved per 10 million phones) and a reduction of 148 million tons of CO2 emissions through the deployment of their FusionSolar solution in more than 60 countries and regions (equivalent to planting more than 200 million trees). Huawei also helped build the world’s largest agricultural PV power plant and fishery PV power plant in Ningxia and Shandong, respectively, both of which have contributed significantly to local environmental protection efforts.
“Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” has also been set as one of the UN SDGs. As of the end of 2020, Huawei’s TECH4ALL Connecting Schools and DigiTruck programs have been brought to more than 200 schools, benefiting over 60,000 teachers and students. In a related program, Huawei is also collaborating with UNESCO on a three-year Open Schools program in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Ghana that will help schools improve digital skills and support online education.
Stefania Giannini, USESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, stated that information and communications technologies (ICT) play a crucial role in ensuring educational continuity, making education more inclusive, and providing lifelong learning solutions through interactive websites, online libraries, and video courses.
The discussions were live broadcast in eight languages as more than 1,000 guests from over 50 countries attended the forum either online or onsite. The attendees agreed that digital technologies have become the foundation of sustainable development and will benefit more people in multiple aspects.
One attendee, Siddharth Chatterjee, the new UN Resident Coordinator in China said, “Digital technology can help us to build back faster, and more importantly, expedite the transformation towards a low carbon future… Global challenges need global response. We must rethink the way business invest and operate. We must drive technology for social good. We must advance policies and practices to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals.”
European Parliament Member Frances Fitzgerald also noted that, with the roll out of 5G wireless networks, the world is on the threshold of the next revolution. 5G has the potential to impact positively on people’s lives and well-being in areas such as health, education, and food production, and digital technologies will facilitate sustainable development goals.
The Director General of the GSMA Mats Granryd said, “In 2016, the mobile industry was the first to fully commit to the 17 SDGs. And we have been at work ever since, contributing to every one of the 17 goals, including climate action, digital inclusion, and sustainability.”
Zhang Wenhong, Director of the Fudan University Huashan Hospital Infectious Disease Department, also spoke out about the need to continue supporting unhindered development, citing how both social unity and advances in science and technology are critical in combating epidemics. He went on to say that the current pandemic has only emphasized how urgently we need to address developmental issues that result in environmental destruction.
The Director of Fudan University’s Center for Environmental Economic Studies Li Zhiqing closed out the event saying, “China is pushing for comprehensive green transformation of social and economic development, and peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality are the top priority in the transformation. We should encourage innovation in disciplines like economics, finance, and ecological environment which span liberal arts and engineering, so as to fill the gap in talent needed for sustainable development in the future.”
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF MWC SHANGHAI 2021 WEBSITE