Highlights Vol , No. - October 2018

Frontier technologies for a sustainable future

Frontier technologies are innovative and often grow fast, with the potential to transform societies, economies and the environment. In recent years, we have seen examples of this in the form of artificial intelligence and machine learning, renewable energy technologies, energy storage technologies, electric and autonomous vehicles and drones, genetic engineering, as well as cryptocurrencies and blockchains. These frontier technologies can help eradicate hunger and epidemics, increase life expectancy, reduce carbon emissions, automate manual and repetitive tasks, create decent jobs, improve quality of life and facilitate complex decision-making processes. In other words, these technologies can make sustainable development a reality, improving people’s lives, promoting prosperity and protecting the planet.

However, advances in these technologies also present ethical and moral challenges, as well as risks of unemployment, underemployment and inequality. A new report, the World Economic and Social Survey 2018: Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development reviews the advances in frontier technologies and analyses their economic, social and environmental impacts.

The Survey identifies policy measures at the national level – striking a balance among economic efficiency, equity and ethical considerations – to both maximize the potential of frontier technologies and mitigate their risks.

The Survey recognizes that no nation alone can manage the impact of frontier technologies.  The United Nations is in a unique position to forge a global consensus and promote international cooperation to harness the full potential of frontier technologies for a sustainable future.

Watch the launch of the Survey on 8 October at webtv.un.org. More details are available from bit.ly/UNDESASurvey

UN General Assembly kicks off work in Second and Third Committees

During the General Assembly’s 73rd session, the Assembly’s Second and Third Committees will continue its work to support the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Three years after the agenda’s adoption, there are opportunities, yet also challenges in the international community’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As highlighted in the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, there is a pressing need to move forward, and to do it faster. It is against this background that these two Committees begin their work in early October.

Chaired by Jorge Skinner-Klee Arenales of Guatemala, the Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) will during this session, deal with a range of topics related to economic growth and development including macroeconomic policy questions; financing for development; globalization and interdependence; eradication of poverty; agriculture development, food security and nutrition; information and communications technologies for development; and towards global partnerships. It will also consider issues relating to groups of countries in special situations.

The Second Committee is set to begin its organizational work on 4 October, followed by its official opening and substantive work on 8 October. UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin will then take the floor to deliver opening remarks. Homi Kharas, Interim Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, will join the event to share a keynote address, followed by the Committee’s general debate.

The Committee will hold a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions, organize side events and a joint meeting with the Economic and Social Council. On 17 October, the Committee will also hone in on global efforts to eradicate poverty, including the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027).

In the course of its seventy-second session, the Second Committee acted on 43 draft proposals. During the upcoming session, the Committee is expected to act on a similar number of proposals.

As part of the on-going process of revitalizing the General Assembly, the Second Committee is also engaged in updating its working methods and practices to improve the quality of debates and the impact of their deliberations and decisions, as well as to further streamline the Committee’s agenda and programme of work.

As the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (Third Committee) begins its seventy-third session on 2 October, under the chairmanship of Mahmoud Saikal of Afghanistan, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin will deliver an opening statement. Under its agenda item “Social development”, the Committee will cover a range of issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities and education for all.

As part of this work, a report by the Secretary-General entitled “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the 24th special session of the General-Assembly,” has been submitted. It focuses on trends in inequality between and within countries and proposes policies and strategies to combat inequality and eradicate poverty aimed at achieving sustainable development for all, based on the outcome of the 56th session of the Commission for Social Development (held in February 2018).  A negotiated outcome in the form of a resolution is expected.

An important part of the work of the Committee will focus on the examination of human rights questions, including the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. In addition, it will also address the advancement of women, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

During previous sessions of the General Assembly, the Third Committee has considered over 60 draft resolutions, more than half of which were submitted under the human rights agenda item. The Third Committee is expected to consider a similar number of draft resolutions throughout the upcoming session.

For more information:

Second Committee of the General Assembly

Third Committee of the General Assembly

Commission for Social Development (CSocD)

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