High-level Technology and Innovation Event: SDG Innovation

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at High-Level Technology and Innovation Event : SDG Innovation


Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen – Good morning

A special welcome to all technology leaders and innovators.

I want to welcome all of you to the United Nations. You are among the world’s best innovators, forward thinkers, and visionaries. We might approach the same problem with different views and tools but we are all here today because we share a common interest: the people of the world and their future. Without doubt you hold our future in your hands – we are all depending on you – no pressure.

The very first words of the UN Charter are “We the peoples of the United Nations…“. This is not by chance. Everything that we do is about people and rooted in our common humanity.

Today, the stakes are high. Poverty, climate change, social unrest, and mass movements of refugees and migrants challenge us. But they also present opportunities for innovative solutions. Technology and innovation are about action – and we need action urgently.

Let us unleash innovation to unlock the potential of every person everywhere, especially young people. will work together. 


President of the UN General Assembly

I will make three observations and propose three action points.

1) The world is changing and we have to adapt

The world today is much different to when the UN was founded. Some changes have created burdens while others have brought benefits. We now operate in the face of rapid technological advances in a hyper-connected world. One thing is clear: we cannot solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking.

Innovators – from high-tech corporations, to teams of researchers, to the lone entrepreneur tinkering in her garage – are all working to shape the future of humanity.

2) We need to work together for people and a sustainable planet

Today’s problems are complex and many-sided. We cannot go it alone. We need all hands on deck. The solutions must involve everyone – governments, the private sector, youth, civil society, and innovators like you.

We now have the framework to drive our work on the Sustainable Development Goals provide a people-driven plan with timelines.

I therefore want to thank the SDG Action Campaign, the UN Global Pulse and Member States for putting together this timely opportunity for mutual dialogue.

3) We need fair access to technology and innovation

While breakthroughs are happening across the world, they are often unequally distributed.

We must ensure that technological advances are accessible to all and focus on building a better future for all people.
We want to partner with you to address our most intractable problems.

You are here today because you want to contribute. You also have legitimate questions: How can we achieve the greatest impact without the lengthy bureaucratic processes the UN is famous for? How can we work better with all stakeholders when our working methods seem worlds apart?

It is our challenge to provide answers.

Three takeaways to guide the discussion today: platform, global spread of innovation hubs, engaging all people

First, we need to facilitate greater dialogue and partnership between governments and innovators. We can do this by providing forums to share cutting edge ideas, shape policy, and inspire action.

Second, we need global innovation hubs all around the world, and to transfer skills from current epicenters to the rest of the word, and vice versa.

Third, let me stress that we must engage all minds in every part of the world. Innovation and technology enables collaboration across boundaries and time. Let us unleash innovation to unlock the potential of every person everywhere, especially young people.

I thank everyone in this room who has helped sow seeds for a new era of sustainable development – through your innovation, your leadership, and your example.

SDG Innovation