11.10.2017

Joint Meeting of ECOSOC and the Second Committee on “The Future of Everything – Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change”

Date: Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location:  ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters

The future will no longer be what we once thought. It is widely acknowledged that the pace and breadth of technological advances are intensifying, and by 2030 – the target date for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – the world will have undergone further changes in the realm of daily human interaction.  Many changes already underway are having a profound impact on our economies, societies and ecosystems.  Industrial processes are becoming increasingly automated and robotized, with human intervention increasingly confined to specific tasks.  Rapid growth in large datasets, and the capacity to store and use them, offer new resources for research, analysis and problem-solving, but can also be used by cyber-criminals.  Ubiquitous computing, facilitated by advances in the Internet of Things in combination with 5G, big data and nanotech, will also be key drivers of change.  We may truly be at the beginning of what has been referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

In many of these areas, ethical questions arise around the potential of technological advancements to outpace policies and regulations and, in the process, undermine societal norms.  while many advances hold great promise for sustainable development and poverty eradication, they also risk leaving much of the world behind in a global context in which inequalities are already sharply felt.   To address these challenges and forge solutions for using technological change as a catalyst for inclusive development, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Second Committee of the General Assembly will organise a joint meeting on “The Future of Everything – Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change”.  The joint meeting will include a three-hour panel presentation and interactive discussion between expert presenters from Government, academia, the private sector and civil society, and meeting participants.  The discussion will focus on best practices and new initiatives with respect to the latest developments in this area, including how policy-makers and their partners can harness the benefits of progress in science and technology, while minimizing their unintended, negative consequences.