There is no question that the technology revolution of the past 40 years has had an immense effect on human health and development, but many have wondered if there is a single, specific innovation that has proven to be the most impactful.

The answer ends up being that there are many necessary technologies and innovations crucial to human development: 50 to be exact.

The Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies at the Lawrence Berkeley National Research Laboratory (LIGTT) has recently published a report called, “50 Breakthroughs: Critical scientific and technological advances needed for sustainable global development.”

The Berkeley Lab, as it’s commonly known, was founded in 1931 at UC Berkeley, and is now owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. A subdivision of the lab, the LIGTT’s mission is to “identify, develop, and deploy, the next generation of breakthrough technologies for sustainable global development.”

The report ob 50 technologies fighting poverty comes after two years of intense analysis and research. The project was funded in part by USAID’s Global Development Lab.

USAID’s Dave Ferguson, who serves as the Director of the Center for Development Innovation, said “We believe science, technology, and innovation can deliver transformational results, and the 50 Breakthroughs study is an extremely valuable contribution in this endeavor.”

The study is divided into nine different categories and aims to give aid organizations and agencies a map of where to invest their time, funds and resources so as to have the greatest impact.

The categories are global health, food security and agricultural development, human rights, digital inclusion, water, access to electricity, gender equality and resilience against climate change and environmental degradation.

The report finds that water is the most important and needed breakthrough. Director of the study, Shashi Buluswar, said, “Water will be the defining problem of the next 50 years. It’s probably the single most important thing that needs to be solved.”

Other breakthroughs include greater access to vaccines, improved and highly efficient fertilizer and increased water filtration capacity.

Buluswar states that the Berkeley Lab is capable of working to implement many of the breakthroughs but encourages organizations both domestically and around the globe to contribute to their further development. You can read the report here.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Berkeley Lab 1, Berkeley Lab 2, LIGTT
Photo: desalinate4kids