Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for SDGs - 1st Meeting

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SIX OFFICIAL 15-May-2017 03:05:50
Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation Goals (STI Forum) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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Concrete Action Needed to Tap Potential of Science, Technology in Solving Global Development Challenges, Speakers Tell Innovation Forum

Science, technology and innovation had an undisputed role in achieving the global development goals and sustainable development, in general, speakers said today as the Economic and Social Council kicked-off its Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.

In opening the two-day annual meeting, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, warned that, despite all the potential of science and technology to identify and design solutions to mankind’s challenges, no tangible progress would be made without real action on the ground.

In that context, the international community must collectively step up efforts to leverage science and technology in support of concrete steps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, stressing that such cooperation might not only prove to be highly effective, but could also help bridge divides across national borders and between various communities.

Highlighting that rapid advances in science, technology and innovation had revolutionized the way people lived, worked and communicated in recent years, Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, noted that, increasingly, such transformation was taking place on a global scale.

Addressing unequal access to innovation and technology and increased connectivity, especially in Africa, would be critical, Mr. Thomson added, calling for the establishment of strategic partnerships and broader participation of women in the field. It was also important to do more to understand and manage the social, political, economic, ethical, security, security and human rights risks associated with technological advances, he underlined.

The private sector must do its part to put technologies at the service of sustainable development by providing the goods and services, while civil society could steer production and consumption towards sustainable solutions, said Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, speaking for Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. Pointing out the wide range of stakeholders participating in the Forum, Mr. Gass said their presence demonstrated that the spirit of innovation and cooperation was alive and well.

Science, technology and innovation had an amazing impact on societies in modern times, recalled Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who delivered a video message to the Forum. While they were not “silver bullets”, science, technology and innovation could help “unlock miracles”, he stressed, while adding that Governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations all had a role to play in those efforts.

Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting towards a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries, said the representative of Ecuador, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China. She went on to emphasize the urgent need to channel effective, sustainable technical assistance and capacity-building tailored to the specific needs and constraints of developing countries, and to address technology infrastructure gaps, as well as capacity constraints.

Increasing the availability of technology could help weaker and vulnerable countries build resilience, while also helping to eliminate poverty and promote good governance and financial inclusion, highlighted the representative of Bangladesh, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, and aligning himself with the Group of 77. Least developed countries needed suitable technologies and relevant know-how to adapt to local requirements, he said, underscoring the need for adequate financial support to harness science, technology and innovation, as well as the important role of private-public partnerships, and South-South and triangular cooperation.

Also speaking today during the opening segment were the representatives of Cameroon (on behalf of the African Group) and El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).

Throughout the day, there were also seven panel discussions that explored the key opportunities and priorities for the use of science, technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Forum will continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 May.
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