ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OPENS 2013 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OPENS 2013 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION
Hears Keynote Addresses on Theme of Annual Ministerial Review on Science, Technology and Innovation, and the Potential of Culture, for Promoting Sustainable Development, Launches Global Innovation Index
1 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council this morning opened its 2013 substantive session, which will run from 1 to 26 July at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  The Council started its High-level Segment, which will be held from 1 to 4 July, by hearing opening addresses by Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, and Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation.  These were followed by keynote addresses on the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review on science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  ECOSOC also launched the Global Innovation Index and heard policy messages from Annual Ministerial Review Preparatory Meetings.

Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that this year’s Annual Ministerial Review focused on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.  Many fields of human endeavour had made significant improvements in just a few generations, yet there were still over one billion people living in extreme poverty.  Science, technology, innovation and culture could significantly impact each of the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and presented huge opportunities.  States had an important responsibility to create and foster an enabling environment for science, technology, and innovation at the national level, and to use culture to improve lives.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that innovation lay at the heart of addressing the interlinked challenges of global development.  Science, technology and culture were necessary elements for any post-2015 development agenda, and the need for innovation was clear.  Many solutions for sustainable development were waiting to be scaled up.  This required the right incentives and ensuring that knowledge and information were shared in a collaborative, open and problem-solving manner.  The challenge was to pull together these views and aspirations and craft a post-2015 agenda that was ambitious, inspiring and universal – relevant to all people and all societies. 

Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, said that the General Assembly and ECOSOC had a long-standing tradition of cooperation, which had intensified during the sixty-seventh session.  The ever-increasing interdependence at the global level, brought about by new forms of communication, required a stronger commitment by Member States to work in concert in order to face challenges and advance the greater good of the world.  The Post-2015 Agenda would only become a reality if concerted action was taken and the world agreed on mechanisms to scrutinize the enactment of the Sustainable Development Goals.  This Council would be the final occasion for world leaders to decide on actions to be taken to complete the Millennium Development Goals process and to provide guidance to the Secretariat and other stakeholders on the priorities on which they should focus.  A revitalized General Assembly and a reformed Economic and Social Council could lead the United Nations in setting the world on a more equitable, prosperous and environmentally sound path.
Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, welcomed the Economic and Social Council to Geneva.  This meeting was taking place at an important point in time for the international community.   Last year, it had been decided to take on the issue of a post-2015 development agenda, to guide the international community and relevant players to tackle some of the pressing challenges; extreme poverty, human rights, justice and social inclusion, and efforts undertaken as part of the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated that a joint international programme could be a vehicle of inspiration and benefit from an effective monitoring system.  They should be inspired by this experience to set up a global partnership for sustainable development for the post-2015 period.

The Council then heard keynote addresses from Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Hamadoun Toure, Director-General of the International Telecommunication Union; David Sengeh founder of Innovate Salone; and Daphne Koller of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Francis Gurry, Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Soumitra Dutta, Dean of Cornell University’s Graduate School of Management, Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director of INSEAD European Competitiveness Initiative, and Samir Mitra, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Advisor to the Prime Minister of India and India’s National Innovation Council, also addressed the Council regarding the launch of the Global Innovation Index.

The Council heard policy messages stemming from the various regional meetings organized in preparation for the Annual Ministerial Review.  In this framework, it heard interventions from Charles Kitwanga, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment of Tanzania, on behalf of the African region; Jullapong Nonsrichai, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, on behalf of the Asian and Pacific region; Rashid Meredov, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, on behalf of the European region; Gladys Triveño, Minister of Production of Peru, on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean region; and Ibrahim Saif, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, on behalf of the West Asian region.

The Council began its meeting by adopting its agenda and programme of work for its 2013 substantive session.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. when it will hear national voluntary presentations from Peru, Viet Nam, and Nigeria.  

Opening Statements of the High-level Segment

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that this year’s Annual Ministerial Review focused on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.  Many fields of human endeavour had made significant improvements in just a few generations, yet there were still over one billion people living in extreme poverty.  Science, technology, innovation and culture could significantly impact each of the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and presented huge opportunities.  States had an important responsibility to create and foster an enabling environment for science, technology, and innovation at the national level, and to use culture to improve lives.  Regional bodies and the international community had an equally important responsibility at their respective levels.  Promoting science, technology, innovation and culture for development required significant investment and they had to be innovative in addressing the resource and other challenges of science, technology and innovation.
 
Mr. Osorio said that the world must be equally innovative in harnessing the power of culture in all sectors of sustainable development.  Public-private partnerships were a policy tool for transitioning to sustainable development, so it was imperative to share knowledge and technology, involving scientific bodies, the private sector, civil society, philanthropy and local governments.  At this year's Partnerships Forum, the Council furthered its dialogue with the private sector and the philanthropic community, while it also promoted inclusive dialogue with the youth.  The Council had attracted a social media reach of over 5 million people, coming from different backgrounds to inspire the world to use science, technology, culture and innovation to improve lives.  Mr. Osorio stressed that the world must use this time to define a global development agenda beyond 2015 with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its centre, while accelerating implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that innovation lay at the heart of addressing the interlinked challenges of global development.  Science, technology and culture were necessary elements for any post-2015 development agenda, and the need for innovation was clear.  Whether in information, transportation, communications or lifesaving medicines, new technologies helped countries leapfrog to new levels of sustainable development.  Innovation was about more than high-tech products.  Innovations in business models could be just as important.  And across a range of sectors, low-cost, low-tech grassroots innovations could often be more effective.  Many solutions for sustainable development were waiting to be scaled up.  This required the right incentives and ensuring that knowledge and information were shared in a collaborative, open and problem-solving manner.  Young people deserved special attention and support. 

The Millennium Development Goals had been one of the greatest innovations in the history of development work.  Two important tasks now stood before the international community.  First, with less than 1,000 days before the deadline to achieve them, progress should be accelerated.  Second, the global agenda beyond 2015 must be shaped with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.  Mr. Ban said he was pleased today to launch the United Nations 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report (E/2013/54), which highlighted a number of successes on key targets that had already been met, or were within close reach by 2015, and showed that the combined actions of governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector could make a profound difference.  The report also outlined serious challenges, including those related to environmental sustainability, the burden of preventable diseases on children, and the situation of women.  Efforts should be intensified, particularly to tackle the disparities across regions and between different social groups.

In May, the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda produced a report that underscored a fundamental formula: without ending poverty, prosperity could not be built.  Without building prosperity, environmental challenges could not be tackled.  And without environmental sustainability, poverty could not be ended.  A rich and dynamic global discussion was under way, underpinned by contributions from key constituencies, including civil society, the private sector, scientists and scholars, and the United Nations system itself.  The challenge was to pull together these views and aspirations and craft a post-2015 agenda that was ambitious, inspiring and universal – relevant to all people and all societies.  The United Nations system stood ready to support Member States in this effort.  The Secretary-General said he would set out his thoughts in a report in the months ahead and, on all the important tests to meet global economic, social and environmental challenges, would continue to count on this Council for advice, leadership and action.

VUK JEREMIC, President of the General Assembly, said that the General Assembly and ECOSOC had a long-standing tradition of cooperation, which had intensified during the sixty-seventh session.  The ever-increasing interdependence at the global level, brought about by new forms of communication, required a stronger commitment by Member States to work in concert in order to face challenges and advance the greater good of the world.  In a world where geopolitical uncertainty was rising and there was a general decline in the predictability of outcomes, the Rio Conference had conferred new mandates upon the General Assembly, assigning it the responsibility to convert global aspirations into practical actions.  That included conceiving and adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and following up on their implementation.  The Post-2015 Agenda would only become a reality if concerted action was taken and the world agreed on mechanisms to scrutinize the enactment of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

A more dynamic ECOSOC making fuller use of its powers under the Charter could make an even stronger contribution to the work of the General Assembly.  One important area of complementarity of the work of the two was reflected in the choice of topic for the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review.  In May 2013, the General Assembly had held a thematic debate on Sustainability and Climate Change: the Energy – Water Nexus.  The General Assembly had also considered the topic of Culture and Development in June 2013, and had held a debate on Entrepreneurship for Development in the same month.  This Council would be the final occasion for world leaders to decide on actions to be taken to complete the Millennium Development Goals process and to provide guidance to the Secretariat and other stakeholders on the priorities on which they should focus.  A revitalized General Assembly and a reformed Council could lead the United Nations in setting the world on a more equitable, prosperous and environmentally sound path.   

UELI MAURER, President of the Swiss Confederation, welcomed the Economic and Council to Geneva.  This meeting was taking place at an important point in time for the international community.   Last year, it had been decided to take on the issue of a post-2015 development agenda, to guide the international community and relevant players to tackle some of the pressing challenges in their age, poverty, human rights, justice and social inclusion, and efforts undertaken as part of the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated that a joint international programme could be a vehicle of inspiration and benefit from an effective monitoring system.  They should be inspired by this experience to set up a global partnership for sustainable development for the post-2015 period.  Switzerland had set up a dialogue with its citizens and a number of stakeholders to define priorities.  Switzerland had also been active in negotiations on the open-ended working group on objectives and had emphasised the importance of the following principles: human rights, the protection of the environment, social justice, universality and policy cohesion.  It was vital that various issues, such as migration, were also taken into account.  The objectives should be limited in number and understood by all.

The Economic and Social Council was the high-level forum for sustainable development and had an important role to play in this regard and Switzerland welcomed the role of the Council in drafting the post-2015 programme.  International institutions must be designed in order to make sure that they formed a forum for open dialogue and exchange; it was possible to draw on previous experiences, for example, concerning voluntary contributions, the monitoring of commitments for sustainable development, and other relevant developments.  Switzerland was delighted to host the main session of the Council every other year.  The United Nations system was becoming ever more varied and developing, this diversity was part its strength and Mr. Maurer hoped that the Council would make most of the opportunities for dialogue provided by this session.

Keynote Addresses on the Theme of the Annual Ministerial Review: “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”

IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that they were at a turning point and that the 2015 agenda goals must be met without losing any time.  They must take far more of the ultimate renewable energy, which was human ingenuity, and that was the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review.  The vision of Rio+20 was clear: social equity, environmental sustainability and inclusive economic development were a single agenda, not options to be weighed against each other.  Science, technology and innovation were essential for achieving that vision and for economic growth and sustainable development.  Science capacity was vital, and South-South cooperation was actively being promoted under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  Computers did not drive innovation, women and men did, which was why education remained very important.  In particular, more and better education in science and engineering was needed.  Inclusion was good not only for individuals but also for the economy, and culture had a major role to play in that respect, because it could function as a catalyst for sustainable development.      

HAMADOUN TOURÉ, Director-General of the International Telecommunication Union, said that in terms of global communications, the world was living through the most exciting period in human history, and incredible progress had been made since the start of the Millennium.  Today they were on the brink of seeing as many mobile cellular phones as there were people in the plant and, by the end of the year, 2.7 billion people would be using the Internet.  However, almost 70 per cent of people in the developing world would still be offline.  Information and communication technologies were fundamental building blocks of social and economic progress and it was an obligation to bring safe, secure, and affordable broadband access to all people, and not just the richest third of humanity.  Affordable broadband access would be the key enabling infrastructure to ensure the achievement of sustainable development, social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.  Information and communication technologies were redefining the objectives of development work, as well as how development objectives may be achieved.  Delivering affordable access to these technologies to all the world’s people would be a vital driver of development, and especially for the post-2015 agenda.

ROLF-DIETER HEUER, Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), said that scientific research was a driving force of knowledge, technology and innovation, and could change society.  All regions of the world needed to step up support for research and innovation in order to ensure the sustainable development of science and technology necessary for the upturn and growth of the economy.  The youth needed to be attracted to science through exciting and motivating teaching and innovative research.  In that respect, strengthening capacity-building in all countries was crucial.  Cooperation, working together and not against each other, was a necessity, and international scientific research provided successful modes for peaceful cooperation.  Science should be included in the international debate leading to major scientific-economic decisions.  Mr. Heuer stressed that Governments and decision-makers should not cut down on scientific research, as that would reduce the perspectives of growth for society.

DAVID SENGEH, Innovate Salone, recalled his experience in Sierra Leone and the situation of amputees.  This had led him to take the opportunity to work on the design of comfortable sockets at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where there was a focus on constant learning and an opportunity for developing prosthetic sockets which allowed amputees to live fulfilling lives.  He had wondered how to enable young people to be actors of change in their own communities and said he had decided to create Innovate Salon, a high school geared to address innovation challenges, premising creative freedom, funding for developing prototypes and a network within Sierra Leone.  Mr. Sengeh called on the Council to consider how to foster a culture of innovation and the skills to transform societies, propelling economic growth.  Safe enabling and inspiring environments should be developed, including the necessary services as well as the physical innovation spaces widely reachable, connected in a way that enabled collaboration.

DAPHNE KOLLER, Massive Open Online Courses, said that an experiment conducted at Stanford University had led to the realization that quality education, which was physically available only to a small number of students, could be provided online to a far larger population at a very small cost.  Many courses from universities around the world had now been made available online, and many top universities from the United States and also from Europe and Asia had joined the programme.  The courses spanned a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, science, music and art, and entrepreneurship, were offered in multiple languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Arabic, and did not consist of static material but were real courses provided regularly and involving coursework assignments.  Ms. Koller highlighted courses offered in teacher training, which, she said, were particularly relevant to the Millennium Development Goals, because they could help to train more teachers needed for the implementation of those goals.  Many emails had been received from persons around the world who had taken some of those online courses, thanks to which they had been able to further their educational and professional career. 

Launch of the Global Innovation Index

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, welcomed the launch of the Global Innovation Index in the Annual Ministerial Review; the Council’s discussion of science, technology, innovation and culture provided a perfect backdrop for learning more about ways in which the Global Innovation Index measured progress on science, technology and innovation.  The Index had already established itself as the premier reference among innovation indices and had evolved into a valuable benchmarking tool that could allow all stakeholders to evaluate progress on a continual basis.  Science, technology and innovation had an important role in fostering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; this was because innovation capacity was critical to providing solutions in health, education, agriculture and climate change.  Building technology and innovation capacity within countries as a whole would also shape the ways in which governments would provide education and health service.  Mr. Osorio said he looked forward to hearing about institutions which might help accelerate the building capacity and culture of innovation at local levels. 

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that science, technology and innovation had played an enormous role in the world’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.  They were constantly reminded of the role that culture could play in advancing health, education, and sustainable energy.  This year’s Global Innovation Index showed that the face of innovation in the twenty-first century was changing and was becoming increasingly open, collaborative and international.  As the international community worked to develop the post-2015 development agenda, they must continue to harness the transformative power of science, technology and innovation.  Science, technology and innovation would play a key role in driving sustainable development.  His High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda highlighted the need to have an accurate picture of progress and where they must intensify efforts, and the Global Innovation Index provided a unique and important tool for meeting this objective by offering a detailed set of metrics for refining innovation policies.  Mr. Ban said that he looked forward to continuing the collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization to ensure that everyone would benefit from the Organization’s important contribution to the role of science, technology and innovation in promoting sustainable development.

FRANCIS GURRY, Director-General of World Intellectual Property Organization, said he was delighted to launch the 2013 Global Innovation Index during the High-level Segment of the Council.  Innovation was a major contribution to economic growth and the key to economic success in a global economy in which knowledge and intangibles constituted an increasingly important component of production and distribution.  It was the source of competitive advantage for enterprises, industries and companies and, as such, increasingly the basis of competition between them.  Innovation was also the major source of improvements in the quality of material life and it was through innovation that they were able to overcome many of the challenges confronting society.  Intellectual property played an essential role in innovation by capturing the economic value of innovation, thereby encouraging investment in research and development, and by arbitrating between the encouragement of investment in innovation, on the one hand, and the sharing of social benefits of innovation on the other hand.  The capacity to innovate was not shared evenly throughout the world and unlike primary sources such as petroleum, the capacity to innovate could be acquired.  For this reason, the World Intellectual Property Organization joined INSEAD and now Cornell University in the publication of the Global Innovation Index, which was now in its sixth annual edition. 

SOUMITRA DUTTA, Dean of the Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, said that despite the economic pick-up that the first half of 2013 had witnessed, overall economic growth had been uneven across high-income economies and emerging markets.  The key question remained of where and how future jobs would be created.  The importance of innovation could not be emphasized enough in that respect.  Countries and firms had resumed in investing in innovation, and the gross expenditures in many developed and emerging nations had been characterized by an upwards trend since 2010.  Mr. Dutta said that it was significant that the top-25 ranking countries on the Global Innovation Index were from all regions of the world, although ranking still remained strongly correlated with income levels.  This represented a number of significant challenges for policymakers and Governments.  Great scientific centres required not just good academic institutions but also an environment of openness and meritocracy which would attract talent from around the world.

BRUNO LANVIN, Executive Director, INSEAD European Competitiveness Initiative, said that the Global Innovation Index represented the world as a whole and several key messages emerged from the current edition.  Innovation was a global game and to be a high-performer in innovation a balance performance across the basic pillars was needed; Switzerland and Sweden were the only countries ranking among the top 25 across all pillars.  Somehow, there was a kind of invisible wall preventing countries from making radical progress in the ladder of innovation.  There was good news, a source of cautious optimism; some economies were rapidly improving their innovation capabilities.  This year’s report studied specific examples of success in innovation at the local level that had been found in all regions.  Silicon Valley was not the only model that applied, but new models of managing and implementing innovation had also been found.  This year’s report provided a cautiously optimistic and contrasting view on innovation; spending and investment on innovation had been sustained despite of the crisis but remained a fragmented phenomenon and a better understanding could contribute to unleashing growth and job creation.

SAMIR MITRA, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of India and India’s National Innovation Council, said that the world had a responsibility to the youth and to the less fortunate, and there was not much time left to make a difference.  With its own population growing, India was aware of the increasing need to provide more jobs and housing to its fast-growing young population.  It was also necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding middle class, while the number of the poor was also growing.  Innovation, therefore, was a necessity for India, not an option.  2010-2020 had been declared an innovation decade in India, and a set of measures were being taken during that period to meet the principal objective of advancing inclusive innovation.  Mr. Mitra stressed that innovation for the poor, which remained a neglected area, deserved more attention at the global level.  Technology was one of the few tools available which could be used extensively as an effective social equalizer, and India was planning to use technology as much as possible in order to scale innovation.  India had a great desire to become a leader in innovation and was committed to continuing its hard work in order to achieve that.          

Policy Messages from Annual Ministerial Review Preparatory Meetings

CHARLES KITWANGA, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment, Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the African region, updated the Council on the meeting hosted by Tanzania in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Intellectual Property Organization, along the theme of the 2013 Annual Review Meeting and its focus on technology and innovation.  Innovation was key for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.  The transition to sustainable development would be dependent on innovation and for the balanced integration of the multiple pillars of development.  Governments should create environments conducive to innovation and closer collaboration was required among academia, governments, the private sector and civil society.  Governments should offer high quality education and endeavour to develop human resources in their societies.  Regional measures to foster linkages and partnerships among different stakeholders were also necessary to capitalise on cross-border cooperation.  In conclusion, Mr. Kitwanga underscored the crosscutting role of science, technology and innovation in addressing the challenges of sustainable development and providing solutions for the post-2015 agenda.  

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, and Moderator, recalled that this morning the Council had heard a compelling example of efforts to promote innovation at the local level by David Sangeh and asked Mr. Kitwanga to elaborate on traditional forms of knowledge and their role in the development of innovation at the local level.

CHARLES KITWANGA, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment, Tanzania, responding to the question, said that Egypt provided a good example of the use of technology.  It was important to establish a number of research institutions to create knowledge accessible to the whole continent.  Investments in education should also be put in place.  Existing knowledge should be mobilised to modernise and support science and technology in Africa; rather than importing knowledge from other places where the environment was so different.  Technology transfers should be customised to the African context.

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom and moderator of the discussion, asked how they could make use of indigenous knowledge.

GLADYS TRIVEÑO, Minister of Production, Peru, said that in Peru traditional knowledge was protected and recognized and that intellectual property rights were applied to it.  Thus, companies which wanted to benefit from traditional knowledge could do so, provided that they paid royalties.  More research should be carried out in collaboration with academic institutions to provide scientific evidence for the benefits of local products so that those products could be marketed properly.  

JULLAPONG NONSRICHAI, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, speaking for the Asian and Pacific region, said that the Asia-Pacific region recognized that clean, sustainable, affordable and accessible energy, especially for the poor, was key to alleviating poverty and achieving sustainable development in the region.  Renewable energy was one of the most efficient and viable solutions to addressing sustainable energy and sustainable development.  The Asia-Pacific region faced a great challenge from disparities and diverse levels of development.  Moreover, the region’s dependence on fossil fuels made it vulnerable to global oil price volatility, which negatively affected the region’s economic and social development.  To achieve energy security, affordability and sustainability, States needed to promote collaboration and partnerships among the broad range of stakeholders in the Renewable Energy Technologies value-chain.  The development and dissemination of scientific and technological innovation would help the region to protect its limited resources, combat desertification, and reduce water pollution.   
 
RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, and Moderator, highlighted questions about collaboration and the field of renewable energy, where the application of science and technology could be important.  The issue of water resources was also interesting. 

RASHID MEREDOV, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, speaking on behalf of the European region, said that the current period was characterized by a number complex challenges of sustainable development; it was therefore very appropriate that science, technology and innovation issues had been identified as crucial for ensuring economic growth in the Rio+20 outcome document and for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  The Council’s focus on innovation could help as it was a policy priority at a time when the international community was shaping the post-2015 development agenda.  Technology transfers were key to help developing countries’ challenges.  At its sixty-fifth session, the Economic Commission for Europe had held a panel on these issues with leaders from the business sector, the academic community and governments.  Among other points made during this discussion, Mr. Meredov noted that innovation should be conceived in broad terms and that innovation policy should be integrated, horizontal and given cross-cutting strategic priority.  The Economic Commission for Europe was ready to work with other regional commissions and the Council to join this global effort.

GLADYS TRIVEÑO, Minister of Production, Peru, speaking for the Latin American and Caribbean region, said that in Latin America there was widespread agreement on the importance of scientific and technological innovation for the reduction of poverty.  Latin America had become a region where increased foreign direct investment was being received and greater stability was enjoyed by all across the region.  At the same time, however, inequality was experienced across the region, for example with regard to access to education.  Innovation could help to combat inequality.  Latin American economies were still investing very little in renewable energy technologies and the investment of the private sector in particular was low.  Latin America was aware that more should be done to facilitate the absorption of new technologies by the economy.  It was also necessary to work to improve access to broadband and reduce the digital divide in terms of broadband infrastructure.  Latin American countries were working for the expansion of social programmes so as to reduce poverty rates.  Increasing opportunities remained the best way of achieving the reduction of poverty in a sustainable manner.     

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom and Moderator of the discussion, asked the representatives of the Asian-Pacific and African regions to comment on how inequality could be best tackled through the use of scientific and technological innovation. 

JULLAPONG NONSRICHAI, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Asian and Pacific region, said that in the context of providing broadband access, Thailand had a programme providing free tablets to allow students to access information technologies and to improve their education.  This project had proven to be successful not only among students, but also their parents and families who had had the opportunity to access information technologies. A broadband project for increased connectivity and network expansion was being developed to reduce the costs of ensuring access to educational contents by students.

CHARLES KITWANGA, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment of Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the African region, said that in terms of information and communication technology there had been an important change at the turn of the century that had reduced, in principle, inequality by ensuring interaction.  Even corruption had decreased dramatically.  Knowledge globally could be accessed by anybody anytime.  The biggest challenge in Africa was electric power, which prevented remote areas from accessing the internet.  

IBRAHIM SAIF, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, speaking on behalf of the West Asian region, said that in the preparation of the Annual Ministerial Review a preparatory meeting on the theme of science, technology and innovation had been hosted by Jordan.  The meeting brought together regional stakeholders and a diverse group.  The key policy messages had been developed along the lines of three pillars, including policy, inclusiveness, and improving partnerships within the region and beyond.  Commitment from all levels of society was necessary but Governments had a particular responsibility.  Policies for innovation should be holistic and range from basic education to the creation of the necessary environment and opportunities for innovation.  A national innovation strategy and clear policies to improve the innovation ecosystems could also make an important contribution.  It was important that technology was adapted to meet local needs.  Additional partnerships within and beyond the region were needed, in particularly around collective challenges and needs which could benefit from collective solutions.  Concerning water resources, Mr. Saif said that innovative solutions to address these challenges in Jordan were a necessity. 

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies and Moderator of the discussion, asked what the agenda should be with regard to promoting innovation among smaller and medium sized enterprises and what Governments should do to build an innovative society.  He also asked what could be done to increase inter-regional cooperation.

GLADYS TRIVEÑO, Minister of Production, Peru, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean region, said that in the Latin American region States tried to simplify the bureaucratic procedure required to set up a new business, but many small businessmen preferred personal treatment and were unwilling to do their registration electronically only.  Therefore, emphasis was placed on familiarizing businessmen with the use of internet, while the personal contact element was not eliminated completely from the procedure.

RASHID MEREDOV, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Turkmenistan, speaking for the European region, said that for the effective development of the small and medium sized business sector it was necessary to introduce the latest technology and to encourage innovation.  Mr. Meredov said that Europe as a region had an especially important role to play in the dissemination and sharing of information on the use of innovative technologies.    

CHARLES KITWANGA, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment, Tanzania, speaking for the African region, said that the first priority was education and conducive Government policies to enable growth.  Cross border barriers should be removed and cooperation should be allowed in parallel to competition.  Regional blocks were very important as well as international cooperation.

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, and Moderator, said that it was interesting that the issue of cooperation had been reiterated by several speakers.

JULLAPONG NONSRICHAI, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Asian and Pacific region, said that using science, technology and information to strengthen small and medium enterprises required conviction from a Government.  Education, training and incentives were necessary as well as Government efforts in order to facilitate market access.  However, modern technology was not cheap and a Government’s intervention and support was much required. 

IBRAHIM SAIF, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, speaking on behalf of the West Asian region, said that the most important issue concerned inclusiveness in the context of the creation of broader constituencies to encourage people to believe in the merits of innovation, including education at all levels.  Additionally, an integrated approach to this end was also necessary, including for providing resources for young entrepreneurs and innovation.  Good ideas needed funding, but access was extremely important as well as the overall environment and the set of incentives. 

RICHARD MANNING, Chair of the Board of the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, and Moderator of the discussion, summarising the main points raised by speakers, said that raising education levels was crucial when it came to creating an eco-system in which innovation could prosper.  Top level Government commitment was also important, as was the effective cooperation between the private and public sector.  Also, tackling border issues in order to help smaller economies to thrive was essential in the African region.  New technology could help to build more inclusive societies, and regional cooperation and information sharing were important in that respect. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/002E


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