4 July 2013
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this morning concluded its High-level Segment general debate 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.
Speakers said that science, technology, innovation and culture were key drivers of sustainable development, economic growth and meeting the Millennium Development Goals as their deadline approached. However, concerns were expressed that factors such as the lack of technology transfer from the developed to the developing countries, the economic crisis, and competing policy priorities in the post-2015 development agenda were acting as brakes on the integration of science, technology and innovation in policies aimed at tackling the world’s problems. Many said that science, technology and innovation could help engineer new models of production and consumption to build a more equitable world.
Representatives of non-governmental organizations who took the floor discussed how science, technology, innovation and culture could be integrated into policymaking and the post-2015 development agenda in a range of diverse areas including home economics, music and art therapy, family policy, the jewellery industry, the electronic dissemination of medical knowledge, and others.
Speaking in the general debate were Nestor Cruz Toruno, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Adelakun Ayoko, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Berna Kasnakli, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Edgardo Toro, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office at Geneva; and Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations who also spoke in the debate were: International Foundation for Home Economics; International Federation of University Women; Academic Council on the United Nations System; Centro di Ricera e Documentazione Febarrio 74; Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi; World Jewellery Confederation; Convention of Independent Financial Advisors; Women’s Health and Education Centre; Organisation Mondiale des Associations pour l’Education Prenatale; Assemblea delle Donne per lo Sviluppo e la lotta contro l’esclusione sociale; Child Helpline International; Internet Society; Manavata; Organisation pour la communication en afrique et de promotion de la cooperation economique internationale; Hope International; International Psychology Association; and Union de Asociaciones Familiares.
This afternoon, the Council will hold a second panel discussion on the theme of the thematic debate on the contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
High-level Segment General Debate
NESTOR CRUZ TORUNO, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said they had heard during the session that science and development cooperation were key for the developing world to develop its economy, and that the global economic situation was very bleak and much needed to be done to achieve the MDGs by 2015. It was necessary to overhaul the international financial structures to help smaller countries such as Nicaragua. Without adaptation to technological advances, countries could no longer be competitive. The challenge was to ensure that science and technology could be drivers to development. Innovation and research through public-private partnerships was being promoted, and it was hoped this and other measures could support small enterprise. Climate change was a major challenge that required innovation.
ADELAKUN AYOKO, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that science, technology and innovation, as well as culture, were essential elements of development and Nigeria welcomed the timeliness of the debate. However, it noted that developing countries needed further assistance in such areas as bridging the digital divide between the north and south. Developed countries should stop paying lip-service to their commitments to technology transfer and dissemination, and honour agreements they had made. The equitable participation of women and youth was to be encouraged in this sphere. Traditional knowledge also had to be protected and promoted.
BERNA KASNAKLI, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said poverty education and sustainable development could not be achieved without science, technology and innovation – an idea confirmed by the Secretary-General in his report. Acquiring environmental technologies through technology transfer could help social progress in developing countries. Turkey was pursuing a full-fledged research programme and the amount allocated in the budget was to increase in years to come. A project was in place to allow teachers to access documents and project them onto smart whiteboards; this would also be useful for distance learning. The scope of Turkish overseas development assistance had increased and it believed that the small island states required the most help. Turkey suggested creating a technology bank and innovation centre to share technology with less developed countries.
EDGARDO TORO, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that science, technology and innovation were tools that could help eradicate poverty. Coordinated actions between government, academia and industry had to be taken to ensure the democratisation of science and technology. Innovation was the driver of new scientific developments but it was critical that the international community ensure effective technology transfer and encourage, for example, open-source software development. Meanwhile, cultural creation had to be protected through the enforcement of intellectual property rights but in the interest of society, not commercial entities.
ARCHBISHOP SILVANO TOMASI, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said science, technology and innovation were a critical dimension of human progress. The importance of culture rested on the fact that it spoke of the intelligence of human beings and reflected hundreds of years of thinking. The spread of data through the internet could not automatically equate to a spread of knowledge. Technology was not only an application of science but was the objective side of human action – a specific knowledge on how to achieve a particular result. Technology tended to be protected by intellectual property rights and as a result, generated money. The rationale between science and technology were not the same and policy should not seek to equate them. Private-public partnerships were welcome.
JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that it was natural that ECOSOC was the forum in which to discuss the integration of science, technology and innovation into the post-2015 development agenda. Therefore Mexico called for the Council’s mandate to be strengthened within the global financial and United Nations systems. More coordination with such bodies as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was necessary. Mexico was integrating its post-2015 policies in this field into a single, coordinated policy with the aims of poverty eradication, job creation and other goals. Technology transfer needed to be boosted, while in Mexico such technology areas as lasers, telecommunications and satellite navigation systems were the focus of strategic research.
International Foundation for Home Economics said education in home economics helped in a variety of social and economic contexts. Examples of this were the implementation of new technologies in the household and the transition from old to new solutions, such as more efficient cooking technologies.
International Federation of University Women was seriously concerned by the gender imbalance seen in scientific environments and the skilled technology workforce. Science technology and innovation had emerged as a means for countries to move forward and taking away the barriers to female participation would improve opportunities for decent work.
Academic Council on the United Nations System said that it had held a number information technology and communication workshops and projects for young people. The role of the United Nations system should be strengthened in general and the Economic and Social Council in particular; in this way it would better meet the aspirations of the youth of the world.
Centro di Ricera e Documentazione Febarrio 74 said that after years of intervention and action in a country such as India, it noted the need for greater mobilization of science, technology and innovation in sustainable development. Policymakers had to listen to the real world experience of non-governmental organizations.
Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi said free and fair access to education was crucial in sustainable development. Details were given of a free education model it had created which sought to promote science, technology and innovation, while allowing children to also learn about art and literature, thus promoting peace and using technology.
International Federation for Family Development said families were the first environment to experience human development. The Secretary-General had outlined the need to empower families to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and it was suggested to implement the perspective of families in policy at all levels.
World Jewellery Confederation said that the jewellery industry had considered the theme of this debate at a recent meeting and resolved to improve corporate social responsibility in the African diamond industry. The millions of employees of the jewellery industry meant that it was important that its bodies paid attention to the Millennium Development Goals.
Convention of Independent Financial Advisors said that debt and the financial health of the developed world was of concern if the world’s problems were to be addressed. The Convention of Independent Advisors was pursuing innovative solutions and increasing its connections with United Nations system bodies.
Women’s Health and Education Centre said as an e-initiative it served over a million subscribers a month and was designed to educate healthcare providers and policymakers on women’s health issues. Investing in wireless technology could lower levels of maternal mortality by allowing the sharing of information.
Organisation Mondiale des Associations pour l’Education Prenatale said in the process of evolution of sustainable development goals women were at the core and training was needed to ensure that women could use the tools given to them. Practical recommendations included information campaigns and the promotion of human and technological resources.
Assemblea delle Donne per lo Sviluppo e la lotta contro l’esclusione sociale said that gender equality in science, technology and innovation was absolutely vital; structural reforms in scientific institutions were needed. The idea that science was “male, western and white” needed to be challenged and women of all races and backgrounds had to be included into science research.
Child Helpline International said that it promoted new telecommunication technologies to provide children with a method of reporting abuse. However the internet and the financial crisis presented new threats to children that the international community had to be alert to. Children also represented the future of science, technology and innovation.
Internet Society said the internet now allowed people to access information and reward creativity, though if it was to fulfill its potential then an open approach was needed. As demand for connectivity and content grew across the developing world, the Internet Society planned to continue working with partners to stay true.
Manavata said 70 per cent of the world’s poverty was in rural areas, meaning sustainable agriculture was important. Their sustainable rural development programme method allowed for decentralised implementation and could help countries achieve their targets on sustainability by combining science with traditional methods and culture.
Organisation pour la communication en afrique et de promotion de la cooperation economique internationale said that agriculture was the mainstay of life in Africa; women smallholders needed improved access to credit. Governments needed to take into account this group and aid their access to improved technologies.
Hope International said that non-governmental organizations were being effectively excluded from decision-making despite the efforts of the Council. Meanwhile, the commercialisation of science and technology was a problem insofar as integrating science, technology and innovation into the sustainable development agenda was concerned.
International Psychology Association said their founder had developed his own method of work which looked at a wide variety of issues. The work of the organization had seen an award launched to promote research in physics and medicine, as well as the support of post graduate study. The Association would continue to promote the 2015 agenda to bring about global structural reform.
Union of Family Associations said children and young people were regular users of technology, leading to the creation of a recreational and web-based system to learn, share and experiment with various options to move around the city in a green way. This allowed all citizens to have an impact on emissions and promote sustainable mobility.
For use of the information media; not an official record