16/10/2002
Press Release
GA/EF/3003



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

11th Meeting (PM)


URGENT NEED TO TRANSFER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES


HIGHLIGHTED BY SPEAKERS IN SECOND COMMITTEE


Developed countries could and should fulfil commitments laid down in

Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Action to transfer technology to developing nations, India’s representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon, as it began its consideration of science and technology for development.


Quoting from the 2000 Human Development Report, he said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries spent $520 billion on research and development and owned 91 per cent of the 347,000 patents issued in 1998.  He called for reduced costs in transferring technology to developing countries, which had recently risen sharply due to intellectual property rights regimes.


Echoing that statement, Venezuela’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that the bulk of knowledge and technology was concentrated in a limited number of developed countries.  She stressed the urgent need to transfer technology and science to developing countries, both to spur competition between developing countries, and to decrease the digital divide.


A number of speakers specifically addressed information and communication technologies (ICT).  Switzerland’s representative said the ICT could be a catalyst for economic growth, play a part in good governance and better everyone’s living standards.  It could open up entire isolated communities and re-establish links between societies and their disadvantaged neighbours.  The ICT’s potential had been recognized for some years and several initiatives had been undertaken to put technologies to work for development.  That plethora of initiatives, however, had found no focus and potential synergy had been left unexploited.


The Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Geneva in 2003, noted that many in the world had thought technology would spur economic and social development, and lead to a new distribution of jobs and wealth.  However, rich countries now made up

91 per cent of Internet users, while most of the South was facing problems connecting to the Web.  The purpose of the upcoming World Summit, he said, was to develop a shared vision of the information society, combat the digital divide and include the South in development.


Also addressing the Summit, the representative of the United States said it should focus on network security, infrastructure development and human capacity- building.  However, she stressed that participants must be alert to any attempt to impose censorship on the Internet.  It was important to recognize that much information was protected by existing intellectual property regimes.


Also at this afternoon’s meeting, a draft resolution was introduced detailing preparations for the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation.


By the terms of that draft, the Summit will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 28 to 29 August 2003, after two preparatory sessions in New York and Almaty in June 2003 and August 2003, respectively.


The representatives of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Romania, Chile, Suriname, Egypt, Brazil, Tunisia and the Dominican Republic also made statements.


Also speaking were the Executive Coordinator of the secretariat for the World Summit on the Information Society, the Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Support and Coordination, the Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization, as well as representatives from the Joint Inspection Unit, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 17 October, to consider sustainable development and international economic cooperation.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to begin its consideration of macroeconomic policy questions, focusing on preparations for the International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation and science and technology for development.


Transit Transport Cooperation


The Committee had before it a draft resolution (document A/C.2/57/L.2), sponsored by Venezuela detailing preparations for the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation, to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 28 to 29 August 2003.


World Summit on Information Society


Also before the Committee was a note of the Secretary-General (document A/57/71-E/2002/52) transmitting the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) report on preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society.


The report states that three Preparatory Committee meetings will occur prior to the Summit, to lay down the framework of the Summit and begin considering the agenda, proposed themes and output for the first phase in Geneva in 2003.  Proposed themes include infrastructure-building, universal and equitable access to the information society, services and applications, user needs, framework development, and information and communication technologies and education.


A High-level Summit Organizing Committee is coordinating with United Nations agencies to align activities along the Summit's themes, and assisting with issue development, according to the report.  It notes that extrabudgetary funding -- in addition to financial support offered by the two host countries -- is needed to organize and hold the Summit.  The General Assembly has called on the international community to voluntarily contribute to a special trust fund set up by the ITU.


An addendum to the report (document A/57/71-E/2002/52 Add.1) gives updated information on the first meeting of the Summit Preparatory Committee, which was held from 1 to 5 July in Geneva.  The meeting, which was attended by

909 participants, elected Adama Samaassekou (Mali) as Committee President,

14 Vice-Presidents and 2 ex-officio Vice-Presidents.  It also adopted a document on principles guiding the preparatory work and the Summit.  The second and third meetings of the Preparatory Committee will be held in Geneva in February and September 2003, respectively.


Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean


Also before the Committee was a note of the Secretary-General (document A/56/370) transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on United Nations systems support for science and technology in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The report assesses the effectiveness of technical cooperation provided by the United Nations for science and technology capacity-building in Latin America and the Caribbean.


According to the report (document JIU/REP/2001/2), most countries of Latin America and the Caribbean could successfully develop scientific and technological capacities.  United Nations support for the sector is backed up by strong political commitment, regional organizations and programmes, as well as a long tradition of regional integration and institutional networking, it notes.


The report includes the results of 10 sample projects reviewed by the Inspectors, which suggest that United Nations' efforts in science and technology capacity-building have generally been effective in responding to the priorities and programmes of the region.  Special areas of success include science and technology policies and strategies, institution building and strengthening, human resource development and networking.


Three major weaknesses the Inspectors found in reviewing the projects, the report continues, include a lack of joint or multi-agency initiatives, tight project budgets, and ineffective relations with productive sectors and end-users.


According to the report, the Inspectors trace some of these shortcomings to the 1990s dissolution of central support structures and financing mechanisms set up by the 1979 Programme of Action of the Vienna Conference on Science and Technology for Development.  The dissolution led to a reduced priority for science and technology and a weakening of substantive coordination and management of United Nations support for capacity-building in the sector, it adds.


The Inspectors recommend in the report that a more substantive, broadly-based inter-secretariat mechanism for science and technology, modelled on the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), be discussed.  They also suggest that United Nations bodies assess the viability, benefits and experiences of numerous science and technology networks in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify possible areas for strengthening South-South cooperation.


Special emphasis, they say, should be placed on linking research programmes in universities to priority economic and social needs of the population.  The best programmes should be encouraged with funding from the public and private sectors.


An addendum to the report (document A/56/370/Add.1) contains comments of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit.  Among other comments, the Board states that evaluation of the 10 projects helps explain the wide diversity of methodologies, performance criteria and analytical background in the results of the report.  It highlights the need for further analytical work supporting similar efforts.


World Biotechnology Forum


The Committee also had before it a letter dated 12 September from the Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/C.2/57/2) announcing the First World Biotechnology Forum, to be held from 9 to 12 December 20003 in Concepcion, Bio-Bio Region, Chile.


The Forum, organized by the Chilean Government and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), will study the relationship between biotechnology and industry, the letter says.  Forum discussions will centre on bioethics, regulatory framework, development, and networks, with the aim of using advances in these areas to benefit humanity.

Introduction of Draft Resolution


VICENTE VALLENILLA (Venezuela), on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution on preparations for the International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation (document A/C.2/57/L.2).  He noted that Armenia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan had signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution.


Statements


ADAMA SEMASEKOU, Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on Information Society, said that new information and communication technologies over the past few years had changed the way in which people learned and worked.  It had also upset traditional political, economic and social structures and made considerable changes to culture and education.  In the information society, people could process and spread information orally and visually with no limits on time, distance or volume.


Many thought that the information society would spur on economic and social development, and mean a new distribution of jobs and wealth, he said.  It seemed to be a promise of progress for all of humanity, but the information society actually did not lead to benefits for the majority of mankind.  Rich countries made up 91 per cent of Internet users, while most of the South was encountering problems in connecting and surfing on the Internet.


He questioned how the international community could develop a shared vision of the information society, combat the digital divide and include the South in development.  It was to answer those questions that the international community had decided to convene a meeting that would develop a universal vision and shared understanding of the information society.  The Summit would adopt a declaration and plan of action, and would be open to all.


PIERRE GAGNIER, Executive Coordinator of the secretariat for the World Summit on Information Society, said the first preparatory meeting for the Summit had successfully adopted rules of procedures and made arrangements for participation.  It gave participants the opportunity to discuss themes and content of the Summit; 140 States participated.  However, they did not have enough time to discuss topics in detail.


The second preparatory meeting would be held from 17 to 28 February 2003 in Geneva.  Invitation letters included requests for proposals for a draft action plan and declaration of principles.  He said the secretariat hoped to receive input from shareholders by 7 December 2002.  The third preparatory meeting would be held in September 2003; several regional meetings would be held in the coming months.


The initial budget for the Summit was 7.8 million Swiss francs.  Of that,

2.2 million had been received and/or committed as of a month ago.  However, in the last couple of weeks, the financial situation had brightened.  The European Union had earmarked 300,000 euros; Spain said it would contribute to the Summit; and Canada announced a contribution of 1 million Canadian dollars.  There had been extensive financial contribution from Japan and Switzerland for the project.


Referring to resolution 56/183 of December 2001, he called on all stakeholders to actively participate and contribute in the Summit. In the last few years, many shareholders other than governments had been somewhat dissatisfied with the limited participatory time allocated and limited recognition of their contributions.


SARBULAND KHAN, Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, said the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force was the first body within the United Nations in which information technology leaders from the private sector worked together with civil society and multilateral organizations in a task force.  The Task Force had been used effectively over the past few months in developing a network of policy-makers worldwide to which it now had direct access.  There was also a network of working groups -- on developing countries, development of national strategies, human capacity development and entrepreneurship.


Those networks were being effectively and actively used in preparing for the Summit, he continued.  The Task Force had decided at its last session to use its connections with non-governmental organizations, civil society and government policy-makers in contributing to the Summit.  The United Nations Secretary-General was fully engaged, and the Organization was completely behind the process.


HOMERO HERNANDEZ, Inspector, Joint Inspection Unit, said the report of the Unit found that the United Nations overall had responded to the science and technology priorities of Latin American and Caribbean governments, particularly in building and strengthening institutions, developing human resources and promoting networks.  However, there were few joint and multi-agency initiatives, limited financial resources and weak linkages between the projects and productive economic sectors.


Those shortcomings resulted from the progressive disollution in the 1990s of United Nations central support structures, in particular the Centre on Science and Technology for Development, as well as financing mechanisms that had been set up in the aftermath of the 1979 Vienna Conference on Science and Technology.  He said the loss of those institutions could be overcome by creating a joint programme for science and technology for development similar to the Centre.  The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), could serve as a model.


The Unit, in its report, recommended the proposed joint programme involve the full participation of both the United Nations and specialized agencies, including the World Bank; and that it focus on biotechnology, environmentally sound or clean-production technologies, and information and communication technologies.


ILEANA VILLALOBOS (Venezuela), on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressed the need for greater linkages between public and private companies in science and technology.  The bulk of knowledge and technology was concentrated in a limited number of developed countries.  Developing countries had lagged behind, exaggerating the economic and social disparity in those countries.  She stressed the urgent need to transfer technology and science to developing countries, both to spur competition between developing countries and to decrease the digital divide.


That transfer would promote competition between developing countries, she stressed.  The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had a clear mandate to develop programmes in technology and science.  She stressed the importance of focusing on transfer, absorption and development of information and communication technologies during the upcoming World Summit.  The Group believed science and technology were vital for sustainable development and urged developing countries to create favourable conditions for technological and scientific innovation.


JENO STAEHELIN (Switzerland) said ICT could be a catalyst for economic growth, play a part in good governance and better everyone’s living standards by providing access to knowledge or new services.  The ICT had the potential to open up entire communities that were isolated from the rest of the world, and

re-establish links between societies and their disadvantaged communities.  Its potential had been recognized for some years and several initiatives had been undertaken to put technologies to work for development.  That plethora of initiatives, however, had not found a focal point and potential synergy had been left unexploited.


That situation was precisely what the World Summit on the Information Society should seek to remedy, he said.  Attention at the highest political level must be drawn to that problem, and a concerted plan of action must be conceived.  The Summit must bring together all -– States, international organizations, the private sector and civil society -– to forge a global consensus and collective will to reap the full benefits of the technological revolution.


Switzerland envisioned an innovative Summit, he said, bringing together all actors able to make a real contribution to the development of a global information society.  As such, inclusion must be the guiding principle for the Summit’s preparatory work.  In that regard, multi-stakeholder initiatives in the domain of ICT for development could play the role of precursors and facilitators.


MOHAMMAD HASSAN (Pakistan) said the Summit should focus on lifting the restrictions on access to, and promoting the development of, ICT infrastructure in developing countries.  Such barriers restricted the efforts of small- and mid-sized enterprises from entering the fray.  The Summit should propose short-term and long-term measures to facilitate the development and use of information technology through education, capacity-building, human resource development and information-sharing.


Pakistan had adopted a holistic, progressive approach to information technology promotion, he said.  The policy was aimed at developing a skilled information-technology workforce; legislative and regulatory information-technology framework; business incentives for investors; and efficient and cost-effective infrastructure for connectivity. 


He urged the United Nations to take a leadership role in information technology development.  He proposed strengthening the role of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development; allocating sufficient resources from the regular budget for science and technology, particularly UNCTAD programmes; conducting a study to identify potential science and technology partnerships with the private sector; and launching a capacity-building campaign. 


EVGENY STANISLAVOV (Russian Federation) said the Summit must not get bogged down in the technical aspects of bridging the digital divide.  Its main purpose was to determine the ways ICT could be used with maximum effectiveness for sustainable development.  However, due attention must also be paid to such ICT issues as guaranteeing security in cyberspace.  It was vital that the decisions of the Summit faithfully reflect ICT’s challenges and opportunities, as well as realistic initiatives at the regional, national and international levels.


The Russian Federation could supply information -- especially for developing countries -– on the most economical step-by-step methods for making maximal use of existing analog networks, he said.  That was extremely important in cases where investment was limited.  His country was actively involved in the preparatory process for the Summit, he said, and stressed the importance of preparations at the regional level.  It was also advisable to tap more intensely into private business and civil society, as well as other sources, for extrabudgetary financing.


SUSHIL KUMAR SHINDE (India) said India had recognized science and technology as critical determinants of development and sought the continued quick pace of knowledge-led growth.  It had focused on improving the quality of science and technology institutions, and promoting education and training.  India had increased investment in research and development substantially in the last

50 years, from $2 million in the early 1960s to $2 billion in 1996.  In the next five years, India would earmark 2 per cent of gross domestic product for research and development.


Still, those efforts represented a mere fraction of science and technology needs, he continued.  Developed countries could and should fund more scientific research, and should fulfil their commitments stipulated in Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Action to transfer technology to developing nations. According to the 2000 Human Development Report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries spent $520 billion on research and development and owned 91 per cent of the 347,000 patents issued in 1998.  He said the cost of technology transfer to developing countries had recently risen sharply due to intellectual property rights regimes.  He called for reducing those costs to ensure the widespread dissemination of knowledge and technology.


ALEXANDRU NICULESCU (Romania) said the unprecedented development of information technology had led to fundamental changes in recent years at the economic, social and cultural levels, both nationally and internationally.  The main objective of the upcoming Summit was to take measures to reduce the digital divide.  It would adopt a strategy and action plan that would ensure the access of the vast majority of citizens worldwide to the economic, social and cultural benefits of the information society.


Regional conferences intended for the preparation of the Summit were at the very core of the process, he said.  In November 2002, Romania would host the

Pan-European Regional Ministerial Conference, which aimed to strengthen cooperation between the participating States, with a view to adopting a common action plan in communication and information technologies.


He said the meeting would focus on the balance between regional specificity and the global dimension and the presentation of national strategies, achievements and challenges that would help participants acquire an accurate view of the transition to an information society.  It would provide an opportunity to develop a platform for dialogue that included all major stakeholders at the European level, including governments, civil society, the private sector and international agencies.


JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said Chile was particularly interested in science and technology for development.  The First World Forum on Biotechnology in December 2003, to be held in Concepcion, Chile, would focus on biodiversity protection, knowledge transfer and development.  He stressed the need to design strategies to reduce the great disparity in biotechnology knowledge and application between developed and developing countries.


Such applications, he continued, contributed greatly to environmental preservation, anti-pollution and recycling products, and cleaner production processes in mining and fishing.  They had also led to the development of cheap, effective drugs to treat haemophilia, hepatitis, cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease.  Chile was taking steps to increase the international dialogue in science and technology for development.  The Chilean President, for example, had called for the creation of a National Commission for Biotechnology Development.


IRMA LOEMBAN TOBING-KLEIN (Suriname), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said science and technology formed the engine of sustainable human development and economic growth.  Its various sources could help create competitive advantage and wealth, and ultimately lead to improved quality of life. Developing countries needed the necessary knowledge, practical skills and infrastructure of science and technology to benefit from globalization and to avoid marginalization.  They urgently needed to bridge the digital divide.


Areas most likely to be affected by scientific and technological advancements were poverty reduction, universal education, economic growth, delivery of public information and governance, he continued. Innovations in biotechnology had already created new opportunities in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture, improved human health, and protection of the environment.  It was necessary to enhance South-South, as well as North-South, cooperation in science and technology.  He welcomed the upcoming High-level South-South Conference on Science and Technology in Dubai later in the month, where the challenges and strategies for science and technology in the South would be discussed.


The international community should promote measures for transferring technology to developing countries, he said, particularly through foreign direct investment.  In that regard, technical cooperation should be concentrated on technological capacity-building, offering countries the opportunity to use intellectual property rights to advance national systems of innovation.


AHMED EL-SAID RAGAB (Egypt) said the United Nations work in science and technology marked the beginning for meeting the Millennium Goal of bridging the digital divide between developing and developed countries.  The information revolution was the best vehicle for advancement in all areas of life.


He said all the studies, reports and documents published by the General Assembly and relevant United Nations bodies reaffirmed the need to fulfil the technological requirements of developing countries, through negotiation with the private sector and computer giants.  That meant enabling developing countries to obtain products at reasonable prices and create information technology infrastructure


Egypt also applauded Switzerland and Tunisia, and all other nations hosting regional preparatory meetings for the World Summit.  The Summit should consider the fundamental issues presented by the information society, namely: infrastructure development; spreading the benefits of the information society equitably; services and application; user needs; preparation of a framework for use in social, economic and environmental sectors; and education.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said the ICT had allowed her country to improve government services and strengthen democracy.  Income tax declarations, for example, could be made online, avoiding cumbersome bureaucratic procedures. Information on government procurement could be obtained on the Internet, ensuring transparency.  An even more important example was the use of the ICT in the electoral process.  The current presidential election in Brazil was conducted entirely through electronic ballot, which reinforced legitimacy and allowed for a fast vote count.


The World Summit on the Information Society must be development-oriented and support the accomplishment of the Millennium Goals, she continued.  The Summit should seriously address the digital divide by supporting the efforts of all developing countries to tap into the potential of the ICT.


International cooperation was vital in bridging the digital divide, she stressed.  The potential for North-South and South-South cooperation was vast and still unexplored.  Developed and developing countries, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should join efforts in promoting the transfer of technology, investments in infrastructure and capacity- building.


     MOHAMED FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia) said the weapon of the future was knowledge. Scientific and technological research continued to be a major contributor to the development process.  He stressed the need to eliminate the unjustifiable obstacles to new and innovative technologies in developing countries.  The United Nations was the ideal forum to find solutions to the digital divide, which continued to separate people worldwide.  He stressed the importance of the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, particularly in education and agriculture.


He proposed developing a group to study and help formulate ICT development strategies, particularly for poverty reduction and sustainable development.  Information and communication technologies must spur economic growth and development, via e-commerce, reduced transaction costs and increased knowledge at all educational levels.


He said Tunisia had developed a comprehensive information-technology  strategy, including modernizing infrastructure; regulatory reform; worker training programmes; and information-technology programmes at the university level.  Tunisia planned to set up 10 special techno-parks by 2010.  He said Tunisia could serve as a model for developing countries seeking entry into the information society.


JANINE GUSTAFSON (United States) said the Summit should focus on network security, infrastructure development and human capacity-building.  She stressed that Member States must be alert to any attempt to use the Summit process to impose censorship on the Internet, or any other form of communication.  It was important to recognize that much information was protected by existing intellectual property regimes, or represented government or business propriety information that only the owners of such information could agree to release.


The information society could only survive if its critical infrastructure was protected, she continued.  The key to such protection was not law or regulation, but the culture and habits of those who used the infrastructure. Discussion of that protection had already taken place in several regional forums. Her country was preparing a draft resolution for consideration by the Committee that would lay out the principles of a global culture of cyber-security.  The United States would host an informal information session to discuss the draft on Friday, 19 October, in Conference Room 2.


CAROLINE LEWIS, Programme Assistant of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said the ILO was guardedly optimistic about job creation due to the ICT.  She said the ICT had produced rapid service-sector growth, particularly in business and producer services, health and education.  The advent of the Internet and e-mail had spurred self-employment and home offices, enabling women in particular to meet both work and home responsibilities.  The ICT had led to a growth in developing countries of back-office operations, such as call centres and data-entry processing centres.  An estimated 5 per cent of servic-sector jobs in developing countries could be transferred to the developing world through back offices.


Nevertheless, the ICT use was associated with job loss, smaller units of production, more out-sourcing and fewer permanent jobs.  Still lacking was worker protection.  Some trade unions were addressing that need through online workers' campaigns.  She said the ICT could be an effective development tool, giving small- and mid-sized enterprises access to the global market via the Internet and other wireless applications, a less costly alternative to fixed-wire telecommunications infrastructure.  The ILO welcomed and fully endorsed the World Summit, and hoped it would lead to strategies to bridge the digital divide.


ORBOLA FASEHUN, Director, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said advancement in science and technology was propelled by innovation and creativity, which was a vital component of intellectual property.  The WIPO had re-engineered its task of promoting the protection of intellectual property rights through new programmes, such as the use of innovation and creativity for wealth creation.  It encouraged the development of intellectual capital in all nations and the practical use of intellectual property by small- and medium-sized enterprises to gain and enhance market share.


The WIPO had assisted many countries in upgrading their intellectual property offices, he continued.  Its initiatives included the deployment of automation projects, the evaluation of proposals and technical advice.  It was also continuing to develop and execute the WIPO Regional Information System Development Project for Caribbean Countries, and had provided advice on the computerization of intellectual property offices to countries in transition.


RAMÓN OSIRIS BLANCO DOMINGUEZ (Dominican Republic) endorsed the declaration by the Group of 77 and China.  The Dominican Republic was working enthusiastically at the national and regional levels to make the Millennium Development Goals in science and technology a reality.  It would hold a regional Summit preparatory meeting in January.


He said the Goal of poverty reduction required universal dissemination of technological advancements and knowledge.  The Dominican Republic was making significant efforts to effectively use technology for advances in medicine, education, government and other economic sectors.  It had developed virtual classrooms and started a national connectivity programme.  Still, much work remained in scientific and technological advancement in the Dominican Republic and

other developing countries.  He urged developed nations to make technology available to developing nations, enabling them to reap the benefits of the information revolution.


GEORGE TZOTZOS, Senior Industrial Development Officer, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said UNIDO had adopted several initiatives in biotechnology promotion, including creation of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), a biotechnology programme in collaboration with the Biosafety Clearing House of the Cartagena Protocol, and the Regional Latin American Consultative Group on Biotechnology.  The UNIDO Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service monitored global developments in biotechnology regulation.


The 2001 Human Development Report highlighted biotechnology's potential in combating major health problems in developing countries such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.  It also noted biotechnology's contribution to food production in areas where over-farming, pests and drought had made crop growth difficult.  The technological age was replacing the industrial age.  The report stressed the need for countries, including the poorest, to encourage innovation and understanding of biotechnology and other global technologies, and adapt them to local needs.  The upcoming Chile Forum would focus on innovation strategies, particularly in agriculture and food processing in developing countries.


He added that UNIDO would hold in the first half of 2003 a series of regional preparatory meetings to the Summit in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.


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