UN agencies join forces to promote science, technology, and innovation for reaching new development goals

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From right to left: UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi; UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova; UNIDO Director General Li Yong; Director Division of Sustainable Development of DESA Nikhail Seth; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Coope
© UNESCO
14 July 2015

13 July 2015 - At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presented a joint statement in support of a new Technology Facilitation Mechanism for science, technology and innovation (STI).

At a dedicated side event co-organized by UNESCO during the FfD3 conference, the inter-agency group, comprised of UNDESA, UNEP, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNCTAD, WIPO, ITU and the World Bank Group, resolved to support the building of national STI capacity, and to facilitate technology development, transfer and dissemination for inclusive sustainable development (read inter-agency statement, delivered by the Director-General of UNESCO on behalf of the inter-agency working group).

The initiative was launched in response to the high level of importance attributed to STI in the emerging Addis Ababa Accord, both as means of implementation for realizing the future post-2015 sustainable development agenda, and as objectives in their own right. Innovative and affordable technology solutions will have to be harnessed at an unprecedented scale in order to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030. 

Following on the opening remarks delivered by Nikhil Seth on behalf of Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Irina Bokova pointed to the unique transformative power of STI. "STI is vital for the creation of knowledge. It is vital for economic growth and for the sustainability of all development – we can all take encouragement today from the growing recognition of STI for the post-2015 agenda… we need to keep the momentum and ensure clear results.”

In the ensuing panel discussion, moderated by Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO, Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium, argued that when it comes to means of implementation, financing and STI go hand in hand. He underlined that the private sector was a key stakeholder in advancing STI.

Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN and Co-Facilitator of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, stated that with the establishment of the SDGs, development can no longer be seen as a "cooperation effort for developing countries only." Development is now defined as a " transformational experience for the entire world” that will require a very different way of engaging with STI, “one that bridges the North-South divide".  “SDGs are indivisible- it is all or nothing," he said.  STI will be critical in addressing the highly interconnected sustainable development challenges in a comprehensive and integrated way. 

Calling for a true multi-stakeholder effort, Frederic Bontems, Director for Development and Global Public Goods, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France, highlighted the opportunities and challenges of a technology facilitation mechanism, focusing on its three main components: a multi-stakeholder forum on STI for the SDGs; an online platform as a gateway for information on existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programs; and a UN interagency task team on STI for the SDGs. 

The lead discussant, Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, stressed the importance of enhanced UN coordination and the need to use STI for job creation and qualitative transformation of growth. During the interactive segment, high-level representatives of UNEP, Word Bank, WIPO, ITU and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research added their perspectives to the discussion. 

In her concluding remarks, Irina Bokova underlined that when it comes to STI, “it is not about what only but how we use STI for addressing the pressing key issues of today, such as poverty, health, hunger, climate change and environmental degradation”.