New York – October 20, 2014
Your Excellency Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Your Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General,
Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
From the Millennium Development Goals, to the Post-2015 Development Agenda we are about to formulate, the central focus is improving the quality of people’s lives. Whether it is eradicating poverty; combating climate change; educating and skilling the youth; empowering women; or reducing infant and maternal mortality, the objective is one: to improve people’s lives for a sustainable future.
Over the years, science, technology and innovation have increasingly become central and indispensable elements to these endeavours. I am therefore pleased to participate in this meeting on science for peace and development.
Our world today is changing, and changing fast. Population is growing by the day, bringing opportunities and challenges, including the earth’s capability to feed us. The environment is degrading, and non-renewable natural resources dwindling. Poverty, inequality and hunger are persistent. When these problems persist, they undermine peace, security and development.
However, there is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The technological revolution of the 21st century, has put scientific and technological innovations at the core of developing solutions to many problems. These developments, through extensive investment in research and development, are changing the way people live, communicate and transact. The advent of the mobile phones and mobile money transfers, as one example, has extended banking, communication and accessibility to people’s door steps, including in the remotest of areas.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is receiving increasing focus in all countries. But greater investments are needed, including in basic scientific research, to unleash the vast untapped human potential, particularly in developing countries.
Even with these developments, there are still big gaps in basic research and innovations on a number of issues critical to human welfare and sustainable development. In the health sector, for instance, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has reminded us all of the hard work that lies ahead. Efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, as well as other communicable and non-communicable diseases, which are often unfunded in developing countries, also remain a big challenge for science and technology.
We must continue to invest in scientific and technological innovation to fight poverty, and to move towards a sustainable development pathway. We must invest in efficient and affordable technologies for renewable energy. We must invest in technologies to ensure food security. We must invest in ICT infrastructure that facilitates production and trade, while noting that reliable energy supply is a pre-requisite.
The United Nations has long recognized the nexus between peace and security and development. Science and technology, when deployed constructively, can facilitate a positive-sum interaction of these forces.
Let us all commit ourselves to promoting a strong and productive investment in science and technology for a more peaceful and prosperous world.
I thank you.