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Special event: Innovation, technology hold key to resolving major challenges facing humanity, UNCTAD Secretary-General says at landmark event

Doha, Qatar, (24 April 2012)


Describing innovation and technology as “a fundamental driver” of economic growth; the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in Doha that they also held the key to resolving some of the major challenges facing humanity today.
“Whether we think of climate change, food security or access to water, innovation and technology are at the core of our efforts to overcome such challenges,” Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said during the inauguration of Innovation and Technology Day.  “Innovation and technology also play a pivotal role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.
Mr. Supachai said innovation and technology were no longer to be conceived as a concern only for rich countries and leading global enterprises.  On the contrary, it was in developing countries that its potential to contribute to prosperity for all was greatest.  “This first Innovation and Technology Day provides a unique opportunity to spur the much-needed dialogue on how innovation and technology can contribute more to development,” he said.
Organizing the event in the context of UNCTAD XIII, and together with the Qatar Foundation, Mr. Supachai said, was testimony to the importance of making globalization fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable.  “Together, we should strive to identify best practices and how to remove the remaining barriers to pro-development science, technology and innovation policies.”
Dr. Tidu Maini, Science and Technology Adviser to Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and Executive Chairman of the Qatar Science and Technology Park, thanked UNCTAD for having chosen Doha as the venue for its Thirteenth Ministerial Meeting.  Noting that Sheikha Moza chaired the independent, non-profit Qatar Foundation established by the Emir in 1995, he said its three pillars were education, scientific research and community development.
Education City was the Foundation’s flagship project, covering 14 million square metres, he said, adding that it was home to a range of schools, universities, research establishments and soon, a spectacular research-led hospital called Sidra for women and children.  The Foundation’s community development pillar focused on the immediate needs of local and regional communities, and its partnerships sought to address problems that impeded human development.
Recalling that the Emir had decreed that 2.8 per cent of gross domestic product would be devoted to research, he said a national funding agency had been established and, to date, $360 million in grants had been awarded to 955 projects, all of which had been peer-reviewed by external scientists.  “In addition we have established three special research institutes in energy and environment, computing and biomedical research,” he said.  The Foundation had established the Qatar Science and Technology Park as a unique model to accelerate research and innovation, while creating partnerships with industry to address the grand challenges that the country faced.

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