For use of information media - Not an official record
How can science and technology deliver on development?
UNCTAD brings together the experts in Geneva to find out

Geneva, Switzerland, (25 January 2017)

​With the clock ticking to 2030, the date by when the world hopes to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as eliminating poverty and hunger, the development community is turning to science and technology for innovative solutions.

How these can be found and promoted was discussed by representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, research institutes, and regional and international organizations at the 2016–2017 Inter-sessional Panel of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) in Geneva, Switzerland from 23 to 25 January 2017.

"The CSTD is the key international forum where member States and stakeholders can come together to not only assess what the future could be, but also develop consensus on how we want to shape our collective future through a deep understanding of science, technology, and innovation and work together to translate that understanding into action for development," UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter said.

The CSTD, as the "torchbearer for innovation" within the UN system has over the years incubated several important initiatives which promote South-South cooperation and capacity building in science, technology and innovation policy making, such as the Network of Centres of Excellence Initiative and the STI policy review programme. It is also the only functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a Gender Advisory Board.

Shamika Sirimanne, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics at UNCTAD and Head of the CSTD Secretariat said that "there is no surer way to lift people out of poverty and to achieve sustainable development than through technological learning, adaptation and adoption. The present acceleration and convergence of technologies presents a unique opportunity for this and the experts at the CSTD have put forward a wealth of innovative ideas to make technology work for development."

With about 795 million people hungry around the world, 780 million of them living in developing countries, according to the UN, a major focus of the panel debates was about new, better ways to deploy science, technology, and innovation to ensure food security by 2030. The proportion of the undernourished varies from less than 5% to over 35% in some regions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 1 in 4 people are hungry.

The other major theme of the panel was pro-poor and inclusive innovation: how new concepts, low-cost labor and materials and huge scales of production can serve markets previously ignored by traditional innovation. It also includes innovations by marginalized groups, introduced under conditions of resource constraints.

Examples of pro-poor and inclusive innovations presented included low-cost medical devices and health services, inexpensive refrigeration solutions, improved access to digital educational devices, and platforms for connecting poor communities to new markets.

The meeting debated other innovation approaches, new models for sustainable development financing, and innovative digital platforms which hold promise for making financial inclusion a reality.

The CSTD addressed conventional and emerging technologies to agricultural productivity and discuss new and emerging applications like robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data, synthetic biology, and tissue engineering.

The panel also explored how such converging technologies can make agriculture more climate-resilient and productive, contribute to more efficient markets, and create innovative mechanisms for insurance and inputs.

A final panel assessed progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels. There was an exchange of experiences among high-level policymakers, who shared best and effective practices and lessons learned in WSIS implementation.

As the highest intergovernmental advisory body in the United Nations system on science, technology and innovation for development, the CSTD provides deep analytical insight and policy guidance to the many countries that are faced with understanding and evaluating how new and converging technologies impact them today and tomorrow.

Findings and recommendations from the meeting will be considered at the 20th annual session of the Commission in May 2017 and will inform the High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council in July 2017.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Communications and Information Unit
T: +41 22 917 5828
T: +41 79 502 43 11

Please wait....