The world-changing innovators of tomorrow may not be who you think

Our world is moving fast. We need smart, workable solutions to the world’s biggest problems and we need them, urgently, to keep up with our rapidly changing societies. More investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) is needed, but so is more investment in a wider range of voices from outside the traditional STI powerhouses of academia and the private sector. Solutions can come from—and already are coming from—young people, community-based organizations, civil society organizations, indigenous groups and more.

From 14 to 15 May, the United Nations will welcome experts from all these diverse groups to its Headquarters in New York for two days of stimulating discussions on how STI can generate new solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The annual STI Forum, organized by UN DESA, will also look at the impacts that new technologies are having on communities around the world.

This year’s Forum will look in detail at the innovative solutions that can push the needle on the critical issues of education, decent jobs and economic growth, inequality, climate change, peaceful and just societies, and partnerships for the goals.

These are also the topics and Goals that will be reviewed by this year’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The STI Forum will look at the links between these goals through the lens of creative, real-world examples of STI in action. Additionally, a session on youth, innovation ecosystems and development will show how young people help drive SDG implementation through their unique networks. For the first time, the Forum will also include a special ministerial segment entitled “Strengthening capacity and policy for the development of STI roadmaps.”

For the third year in a row, the STI Forum will highlight 10 inspiring projects from across the world that are already helping to implement the SDGs. The innovative entrepreneurs in charge of these projects will be featured in an Innovators’ Showcase in the UN General Assembly lobby. They will also have the opportunity to pitch their innovations to the Forum audience in hope of building new support networks.

This year’s winning innovators, selected from more than 350 entries in a global competition organized by UN DESA with the support of the Global Innovation Exchange, are working on the ground to reduce food waste, improve access to legal services, build sustainable housing and achieve other big goals.

Other highlights of the Forum will feature the contributions of indigenous and traditional knowledge towards improving scientific knowledge and providing practical solutions for the SDGs, as well as a special exhibit on the contributions of women scientists to the SDGs, to be held in the Visitors’ Lobby. A dedicated session will examine how to attract, retain and enhance the contribution of women and girls to STI for the SDGs.

The STI Forum is a part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Forum is supported by the Inter‑Agency Task Team on STI for the SDGs (IATT) currently comprising 42 UN entities, as well as the Secretary-General’s 10-member group of experts to support the TFM.

For more information:

4th Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals