Remarks at Pre-event 2: UN system work on STI for the SDGs, including outcomes of regional STI Forums and global thematic conferences STI Forum 2022

Excellencies,

My dear colleagues, Dr Shamila Nair-Bedouelle of UNESCO, Mr. Niklas Hedman of 
UN OOSA, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi of FAO, and Mr. Kaveh Zahedi of ESCAP; our moderator 
Ms. Salome Guchu, ladies and gentlemen! 

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. 

I am happy to be here at this pre-event, as we kick off the two days of the Science, Technology, Innovation Forum. This morning’s session provides a valuable opportunity to look back over the past year and spend some time taking stock of the UN’s work advancing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs. 

Here we are, at the half-way point of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, and as we well know, our attention must be on accelerating implementation. If we are to have any hope of achieving the SDGs by 2030, we need to be using every tool at our disposal to make the needed transformations toward sustainability. 

When Member States agreed on the 2030 Agenda, they recognized that science, technology and innovation are among the most essential tools that we have. Indeed, they agreed on strengthening the science-policy interface, investing in technology, and building capacity for STI in all regions and among all groups and communities. Most importantly, they created the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, or TFM. 

The TFM is made up of the first Inter-Agency Task Team (represented on this panel today), the ten-member group on STI for the SDGs (of which our moderator is a member), an online platform now known as 2030 Connect, and the STI Forum itself. In some ways the TFM serves as the anchor of STI for SDGs work across the UN system.

To further bolster the UN’s commitment to STI for the SDGs, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also made the issue of digital technologies a priority. From his High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, through his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and now his Common Agenda, the UN is committed to bringing the international community better together to harness the full benefits of technology while mitigating its risks and challenges. In my separate capacity as acting Envoy on Technology, I am pleased to have worked with many partners to push this agenda forward, including through our multistakeholder Roundtables on key issues such as global connectivity, digital capacity-building, AI and digital public goods, many issues which are also being discussed by the STI forum indeed. 

     So, to help promote strong interagency collaboration, as part of the TFM’s Interagency-Task Force’s work, my Office and DESA have jointly undertaken and completed a mapping of UN initiatives, mechanisms and programmes on digital technologies. I will be presenting the outcomes of this mapping in a side event on 6 May at 7:30 am New York time. 

In addition, the Office of the Tech Envoy is now working with UN partner agencies to prepare for the Global Digital Compact, which the Secretary-General has proposed as a key outcome for next year’s Summit of the Future. We will shortly be launching a public space on the Office website to collect inputs and views to inform the preparation of the Compact.

Let me now focus on DESA. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs plays a leading role in promoting STI for the SDGs. The areas of DESA’s engagement are as diverse as the DESA divisions themselves. They include initiatives promoting data management and e-governance; STI in the forest sector; STI for social inclusion and youth employment and development; and STI to advance the just transition. Publications and policy briefs address other topics as well, including information and analysis on fintech, technology for statistics and big data, artificial Intelligence, and frontier technologies, and much more.

To advance the science-policy interface, Member States have called for a Global Sustainable Development Report, or GSDR, authored by an Independent Group of Scientists, appointed by the Secretary-General. DESA serves as Secretariat for this Group, working in close collaboration with a UN task team that includes UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO and the World Bank. The first quadrennial report was launched in 2019, and the next one will be released in 2023. 

As is the case with the GSDR, collaborating with UN system partners is the standard operating procedure for much of DESA’s work on STI.  We partnered with the Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT) to create 2030 Connect, the online platform and “one-stop-shop” for policy makers, practitioners, students, members of civil society and other stakeholders seeking to tap into the expertise and networks of the UN system and its partners. 

Another example is the STI for the SDGs Roadmaps initiative. It aims to provide governments with guidance for shaping STI policy frameworks and strategies for the SDGs. In this regard, we work with diverse partners including the European Commission, UNESCO, the World Bank, UNCTAD, UNIDO, UN-ESCAP, ESCWA, ECA, UNDP, FAO, and UNITAR. And the Interagency Task Team (IATT) provides an ideal platform for such working-level cooperation.

Of course, the STI Forum itself is successful thanks to teamwork and collaboration with the IATT, the 10-Member-Group and many other partners. Over the last seven years, the multi-stakeholder Forum has become the global platform for showcasing the STI work of the UN system and beyond, and for providing an institutional link to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and the many other SDG implementation efforts of the UN system. 

In that spirit of partnership and collaboration, I encourage you all to get involved in the TFM work. I will close now and look forward to hearing more from my colleagues from sister organizations and from our audience tuning in from around the world. 

I thank you for your attention. 

File date: 
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Author: 

Ms. Spatolisano