The critical role of science, technology and innovation in transitioning from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals and progress in the implementation outcomes of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society were discussed at the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
Two ministerial roundtables were the highlights of the opening day of the eighteenth session of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), which runs until 8 May. More than 15 ministerial speakers underscored the need to give science, technology and innovation (STI) a key role in the post 2015-development agenda and reflected on the progress made in the implementation of WSIS outcomes.
The roundtables discussed a wide variety of issues, such as the need for STI capacity development of youth and marginalized populations and for more local content on the internet, as well as the role of STI in meeting development challenges in sectors such as health, education and agriculture. Further, the roundtables acknowledged the progress that has been made in implementing the WSIS outcomes and commended the work done in preparing the ten-year review.
The roundtables were preceded by an opening ceremony featuring addresses by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Fadi Chehade, Director of UNESCO's Knowledge Societies Division Indrajit Banerjee and London School of Economics Professor Robin Mansell. UN Economic and Social Council President Martin Sajdik gave a video message during the ceremony and UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter provided the introductory remarks to the ministerial roundtable on managing the transition from MDGs to SDGs.
CSTD 18th Annual Session, 4-8 May
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that STI is essential to build a future we all want and highlighted the importance of the CSTD. He also underscored the transformative power of ICTs and their intricate link with the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. In particular, he pointed out that within the proposed SDGs, STI is a relevant parameter within different goals, and is a central piece of the means of implementation along with finance, capacity building and trade, as outlined in SDG 17.
UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter highlighted the need for capacity building to address STI capacity gaps. He stressed the need to implement evidence-based policies in all areas, including STI, and called upon the international community to ensure that the big data revolution leads to more accurate analyses of development problems. ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao echoed the importance of ICTs as enablers for sustainable development. He encouraged the STI international community to continue to support UN processes that create synergies and institutional linkages, such as CSTD.
Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting highlighted the importance of scientific research as a catalyst for industries and for the development of new technologies. He reminded us that scientific research requires high standards of education at every level as well as political and popular support.
CEO of ICANN Fadi Chehade declared that the Internet is the engine of change and growth and that it has affected the entire social and industrial fabric of the world. He called for a polycentric approach to managing the Internet to ensure that it remains stable, secure, and resilient continues to serve everyone.
Director of UNESCO's Knowledge Societies Division Indrajit Banerjee stated that science is critical to ensure sustainable development and eradicate poverty. He emphasized the need to set up robust national STI policies to foster innovation and promote sustainable economic growth.
LSE Professor Robin Mansell drew attention to the importance of education to build digital literacy, in particular amongst marginalized populations. She posited that without digital literacy, it is not possible to capitalize on new opportunities offered by ICTs.