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Thematic Session: Science, technology and innovation

Co-conveners: The UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM), including the Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT, comprising 43 UN entities), and the TFM 10-Member-Group, with 157 inputs from various TFM stakeholders.

One of the key functions entrusted to the high-level political forum on sustainable development by Rio+20 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to strengthen the science-policy interface, including through the Global Sustainable Development Report and the Technology Facilitation Mechanism. Progress in science, technology and innovation (STI) continues to accelerate, promising significant benefits but also risks to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Science, technology and innovation will continue to have broad impacts on the economy, society and environment. Rapid technological advances have rarely been neutral and can present extraordinary policy and societal challenges. It is important to ensure that they are to the benefit of all, in line with the ambitions of the SDGs. Annotated Programme as of 22 June 2020 16 The Decade of Action explicitly recognizes that STI are essential ingredients as part of any feasible transformative pathway towards the SDGs. This is underscored by their role in understanding, responding to, and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Timely research, analysis and information are essential to allow identification, dissemination and adaptation of critical technology solutions. At the same time, a greater engagement with stakeholders across society is needed to ensure that these make a real and lasting difference, and that potential trade-offs across goals and targets can be resolved. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new innovations and forms of collaboration. The crisis has been a wake-up call for a better science-policy-society interface, for more effective international technology cooperation, and for building public trust in science related to all areas of sustainable development. Rapid improvements in these areas – improvements that are commensurate with the far-reaching rapid technological progress – are essential to realize the full promise of STI and to ensure that no one is left behind.

Guiding questions:

  • What are the most promising technology solutions, innovations, and transformative technology pathways towards the SDGs?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities faced in developing and deploying STI for emerging challenges such as COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can we mobilize science, technology and innovation to improve the lives of the furthest behind, and reduce inequalities, especially during rapid technological change?
  • How can we strengthen international cooperation on science, technology and innovation to better deal with sustainability challenges?

United Nations