Pursuing resilience and sustainability with innovation
Natural disasters, climate change hazards, food insecurities, water crises and public health risks – the threats facing our societies today are multiple and complex. How can new technologies and innovation play a role and increase our abilities to prevent and efficiently respond to different hazards? This topic will be in focus as Heads of State, ministers, parliamentarians, resilience specialists and inventors gather for the 2018 ECOSOC Integration Segment at UN Headquarters on 1-3 May 2018.
Under the overarching theme “Innovative communities: leveraging technology and innovation to build sustainable and resilient societies,” the annual ECOSOC event will hone in on a number of topics that have the potential of making our societies stronger, more sustainable and better prepared when disaster strikes.
ECOSOC Vice President Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov will open the event on 1 May together with UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin and Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan Kamoliddinzoda Ilyos Jamoliddin. Discussions will then kick off revolving around our quest for resilience and sustainability, moderated by New York Times journalist and the author of “The Price of Everything”, Eduardo Porter.
Empowering the furthest behind first
Following these initial discussions, the first session will aim at decoding resilience, while taking a closer look at the building blocks of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. What are some of the main risks communities currently face at the local, national and regional levels? How can the needs of countries in special situations be best addressed to reach the furthest behind first and ensure that no one is left behind?
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development […] has the potential to address all these challenges,” said ECOSOC President Marie Chatardová in a recent blog post on the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies. “But to do so its implementation needs to progress timely and effectively. Leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first is critical, including by empowering the most marginalized groups and their families so that they can lead decent and productive lives.”
Empowering the most vulnerable groups is also critical from a resilience perspective. “Disaster fatalities are more influenced by socio-economic vulnerability, and exposure or lack of protection from the elements, than by the hazard itself,” said Robert Glasser, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. “The good news though is that we have an opportunity like never before to avoid the creation of new disaster risk and apply the brakes to economic losses,” he said.
Role of new technologies to reduce risks and build resilience
Exchanging experiences and lessons learned in terms of the latest technology and innovations to reduce disaster risks, will be in focus for the segment’s second session. It will also explore the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Technology Facilitation Mechanism’s online platform, adopted in the 2030 Agenda, which is one of the instruments that can serve as a comprehensive mapping of and a gateway for information on existing science, technology and innovation initiatives.
One session will take a closer look at approaches that cities and countries have taken to design resilient and sustainable infrastructure, while another will zoom in on the specific challenges that Africa faces. The event will also invite Member States to take the stage during general debates.
Wrapping up, the 2018 ECOSOC Integration Segment will look ahead and explore the contribution of frontier technologies to design a resilient and sustainable future, including multi-hazard early warning systems, climate risk early warning initiatives, foresighting techniques, capacity building, partnerships, resilience investments and insurance schemes.
Photo: Zipline uses drone technology to save lives – Sarah Farhat/World Bank
For more information: 2018 ECOSOC Integration Segment