12 July 2019
High-Level Political Forum, 10th, 11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)

Delegates in High-Level Political Forum Stress Need to Harness Science, Technology, Innovation, amid Calls for Managing Inherent Risks, Building Human Capital

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development today examined the contributions of science, technology and innovation in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, including ways in which Governments, the United Nations, the private sector, scientists, academia and civil society can work together to harness that power.

Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados), Forum Co-Chair, presented the key findings of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, held in May, stressing that these disciplines are powerful tools for attaining the Goals, both in developing and developed countries.

She said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015, launched the Technology Facilitation Mechanism comprising the Forum, an interagency taskforce and an online platform to exchange information on.  Governments, for their part, must develop road maps for applying science, technology and innovation to support implementation of the Goals, she added.

Among its recommendations, the Multi-stakeholder Forum called for strengthening its convening power for dialogue between stakeholders and Governments, she said, sharing ideas to catalyse initiatives and partnerships, and securing both political and financial support for the Mechanism.

Vaughan Turekian, Co-Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Forum’s 10-member Advisory Group — and Executive Director of Policy and Global Affairs at the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — said that, with its huge potential to harness science and technology towards attainment of the Goals, the Mechanism must be articulated in the Political Declaration of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit to be held in September.

Paulo Gadelha, member of the 10-member Group — and Coordinator of the FIOCRUZ Strategy for the 2030 Agenda at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil — said 47 United Nations entities are now part of the Forum.  He recommended that the General Assembly request the inclusion of the Mechanism in voluntary national reviews of the High-Level Political Forum.

Kazuhiko Takeuchi, President of the Institute for Global Environment Strategies in Japan, illustrated how his country has established a road map for applying science, technology and innovation to sustainable development, localizing it at the municipality level.  Japan has created a national road map for a low‑carbon society and is working with many municipalities, he explained, and disseminating this idea overseas, notably in Indonesia.

In the ensuing dialogue, lead discussant Marlene Kanga, President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, underscored the need to build human capital, train professionals with top-tier skills and expertise, and importantly, manage new technologies, as unknown risks are inherent in their use.

The representative of the European Union said the bloc’s member States are committed to investing in research and development, which are instrumental to fulfilling the Goals.  Mexico’s delegate meanwhile pointed out that, with about 50 per cent of the world’s population lacking Internet access, new technologies could widen inequality.  This must not happen, he said, urging Member States to provide financial support so the Mechanism’s online platform will be up and running.

The representative of the women’s major group said gender barriers must be addressed before discussing the benefits of science, technology and innovation, as opportunities for women to seek jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are limited.

Israel’s delegate said innovation is a mindset in her country, which has the world’s highest ratio of research and development spending to gross domestic product (GDP).  In the Dominican Republic, 98 per cent of businesses are small and midsize enterprises, said that country’s delegate, stressing the need to innovate.

Also speaking today were representatives of Belgium, South Africa, France, China, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Islamic Development Bank.

The High-level Political Forum will meet again at 9 a.m. Monday, 15 July, to continue its work.

For information media. Not an official record.