Giving Compass' Take:

Constance Agyema argues that to make progress in achieving the sustainability goals, entrepreneurs and innovators are using human-centered design to find solutions.

How can you use human-centered design to guide your efforts to support the SDGs? 

Read about why we need breakthrough tech to reach SDG health.

The Sustainable Development Goals are the successors of the Millennium Development Goals. Instituted in 2000, they made extraordinary advances (PDF) in improving the quality of life for hundreds of millions in developing countries.

Rates of extreme poverty fell from 47 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2015. Primary school enrollment in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 52 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2000 all the way to 80 percent in 2015. The global number of deaths of children younger than 5 fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6 million in 2015, whilst measles vaccination helped prevent nearly 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013.

Cutting extreme poverty to 14 percent was a massive achievement, but with the global population expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, it leaves the prospect of 1.19 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day. It's vital that the successor challenges in the Sustainable Development Goals are met. They will require innovative solutions, often technological — they will succeed only by putting the people affected the most at the heart of solutions.

Challenges are good; they focus our attention, concentrate our resources and give innovators a target to aim for. I say this as someone who works with challenges on a daily basis with my work to promote sustainable communities through international development. We identify the most pressing issues we face and develop Challenge Prizes to incentivize innovators and entrepreneurs to develop lasting solutions to those problems, awarding them with significant cash prizes if they win. We've awarded more than $23.4 million through our challenges in equity-free prizes and seed funding.

For these prizes to meet their aims, the principles of human-centered design were woven throughout each one. This helped to ensure the winning innovations met the needs and lives of the people they needed to benefit most.

The conventional approach to innovation is to build a new technology that one thinks will solve a problem and assumes is what people want. It's then put into market to see what happens. Maybe it swims, maybe it sinks.

Read the full article about people-focused sustainability goals by Constance Agyema at GreenBiz.