Science, Tech, Innovation Must be Inclusive to Achieve SDGs: ECOSOC Forum | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD

Science, Tech, Innovation Must be Inclusive to Achieve SDGs: ECOSOC Forum | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD

President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Lachezara Stoeva convened the eighth annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum). Speakers highlighted the importance of data sharing, collective learning, and cross-disciplinary approaches to harness STI’s potential to foster inclusive solutions for sustainable development.

Mathu Joyini, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, and Thomas Woodroffe, UK Ambassador to the ECOSOC, co-chaired the Forum, which focused on the theme, ‘Science, technology and innovation for accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.’

In her opening remarks, Stoeva noted that the “multiple crises of the last three years have dealt a major blow to SDG implementation efforts.” She highlighted the STI Forum as an opportunity to boost science- and evidence-based policymaking “for designing and implementing transformations to sustainable development.”

Stoeva called for special attention to SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and SDG 17 (partnership for the Goals) – the five Goals undergoing in-depth review by the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July. She also noted that the Forum will serve as a steppingstone to the midterm review of all 17 SDGs at the SDG Summit in September.

Speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, stressed that the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Highlighting the role of scientific innovation in driving progress on the Goals, she emphasized the need to ensure that “women and girls and other marginalized groups participate in those domains.”

Underscoring the need to “mobilize science to accelerate action and develop transformative solutions,” President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Csaba Kőrösi noted that “[b]y incorporating science, innovation, technology and digitalization into our thinking, we can move from fragile to agile.” He said the STI Forum can help develop a scientific validation mechanism to support SDG implementation.

Participants showcased examples of innovative efforts to accelerate sustainability transformation at the local and global levels in the areas of biodiversity, climate, energy, food systems, health, education, inclusion, and emerging and frontier technologies. They outlined opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) to develop high-impact technology applications and emphasized the need to ensure that new technologies and research initiatives prioritize sustainability.

The Forum included a ministerial session on ‘Innovating to Deliver the SDGs’ and a presentation of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2023 findings. Dedicated sessions convened on, among other topics: strengthening trust in science and technology; people- and community-led innovation; closing the gender gap in science and technology; and sharing knowledge through new partnerships. Events held in conjunction with the Forum included an STI in Africa Day on 2 May and a Global Solutions Summit on 5 May.

Organized by the UN interagency task team on STI for the SDGs (IATT), the STI Forum was convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN 10-Member-Group of High-level Representatives of Civil Society, Private Sector and Scientific Community to support the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism (10 Member Group). The Forum took place in New York, US, from 3-4 May 2023.

The Co-Chairs will prepare a summary of the Forum, to support deliberations at HLPF 2023 and the SDG Summit. [STI Forum Website] [DESA STI Forum Curtain Raiser] [Meetings Coverage: STI Forum, 3 May] [Meetings Coverage: STI Forum, 4 May] [Closing Remarks by ECOSOC President]