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UN moves to tap transformative power of science, technology and innovation to achieve Sustainable Development Goals
18 May 2017 - Innovators, policy makers, businesses, civil society and technology experts met with Member States at United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss how science, technology and innovation can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improve people’s lives.

The co-chairs of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs, Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the UN, and Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State, said that the integrated nature of the SDGs requires multi-disciplinary and holistic science, technology and innovation approaches that break silos and take into account different sources of knowledge, at the concluding session of the Forum.

The Forum was convened by the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava from 15 to 16 May. It brought together governments, scientists, innovators, UN organisations, NGOs, the private sector and many other stakeholders to explore how to harness science, technology and innovation to achieve the SDGs.

“We have to collectively step up our efforts to leverage science and technology in support to concrete actions towards the aspirations of the sustainable development goals,” stated Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava. “Such action oriented cooperation on science, technology and innovation might prove not only highly effective but could also help bridging divides across national borders and between the various communities, and strengthen communication and collaboration.”

During the Forum, participants discussed a range of issues, including how achieving the SDGs will require transformations at many different scales and levels, changes that can only happen through science, technology and innovation.

“The transformative power of science, innovation and technology is abundantly clear,” noted the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson at the Forum. “Thus it is that we – the international community – must take the necessary steps to ensure that the potential inherent in exponential technological innovations is unlocked to our advantage. Properly done, and these steps will take us to the solutions required to drive achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he added.

Illustrating that many countries are showing how electronic identification and payment systems can support the rolling out of social protection floors, fight corruption, and enhance synergies with other means of eradicating poverty, “Technology and innovation helps translate our scientific knowledge into meaningful improvements in our day-to-day lives,” underscored Mr. Wu Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, in his statement to the Forum delivered on his behalf by Thomas Gass, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs.

The Forum also called for an increased focus on building capacity, providing opportunities and fostering engagement of women and girls on science, technology and innovation. A particular highlight was the exhibition hub, which included twelve young entrepreneurs presenting their innovative solutions to advance the SDGs.

About the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

The annual two-day Forum aims to build new networks that can foster scientific cooperation, innovation, and the development of new technologies that can help achieve the SDGs. It convenes innovators, scientists, policy makers, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders from across the world to explore new partnership possibilities to scale up innovation for the SDGs. The recommendations from the Forum inform the deliberations of the High Level Political Forum.