New UN initiative to boost access to science, technology for world’s least developed countries

Girls use computers at a school in Sana’a, Yemen. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

18 February 2015 – The world’s poorest nations are one step closer to gaining access to critical science, technology and innovation (STI) that is vital to their sustainable development, poverty eradication, and changing the lives of millions of people who live in some of the poorest segments of the global community, the United Nations has announced.

At yesterday’s conclusion of an international gathering in Gebze, Turkey, a High-Level Panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in November last year, agreed to prepare a study on the creation of a ‘Technology Bank’, specifically aimed at addressing STI gaps in least developed countries (LDCs).

“I am happy with the first meeting of the High-Level Panel, which focused on concrete articulation of the practical and operational aspects of the Technology Bank for LDCs,” said Gyan Acharya, UN High Representative for LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

“Once operational, the Bank will make critical contributions to transforming the lives of the poorest segments of the global community,” he added.

The state of science and technology is weak in the least developed countries and as a result, they face immense challenges in their use of science, technology and innovation to fight poverty and improve the socio-economic conditions of their people. Acquiring new technologies and building a knowledge base to be able to fully that technology is critical for the socio-economic transformation of the LDCs. Development of this sector is also expected to bridge LDCs’ digital divide and technology gap.

The 11-person Panel, made up of representatives from LDCs and development partners, is tasked with ensuring that the proposed Technology Bank is able to effectively address questions relating to technology transfer, including intellectual property rights issues. A key undertaking of the new study will be to identify existing international initiatives in order to limit duplication of effort, as well as take into consideration streamlined management and costs.

The UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) will serve as Secretariat to the Panel and coordinate the undertaking of the study. The Panel is expected to deliver its recommendations on the details of the Technology Bank to the Secretary-General in July 2015.

The genesis of a multilateral effort to advance and accelerate science and technology among LDCs emerged from the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries which was held in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2011. That gathering called for an evaluation of a proposed Technology Bank, Science, and Information support mechanism, which would help improve research, promote networking institutions and help LDCs access critical technologies.


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UN chief appoints panel on creating ‘technology bank’ for world’s poorest nations

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