ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL CONTINUES HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT GENERAL DEBATE
3 July 2013
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon continued 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.
All speakers underlined the enormous importance of science, technology, innovation and culture for sustainable development, economic growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and praised the work of the Council in that respect. Countries outlined some of the efforts they were undertaking to boost innovation, science and technology. Issues raised by the speakers included the digital divide, where many countries said the cost of technology, such as computers, was prohibitive to spreading the use of information and communication technologies in their countries. In addition, many raised the point that connectivity was also a barrier as, although broadband offered great opportunities for education and economic growth, the infrastructure needed was not in place and financial support was needed to extend it.
Speakers also spoke often of the need for north-south cooperation in sharing skills, knowledge and technology, as well as growing opportunities for south-south cooperation, both of which could support research, development and entrepreneurship. The need for investment and encouragement of creative industries to allow them to bring forward new solutions was noted, as was the importance of a predictable patent system to protect and profit from these ideas once developed. Common issues to be addressed such as climate change, sustainable energy solutions and food security were also regularly raised, with Member States calling for global partnerships to share knowledge and experiences so that all may benefit. Going forward many representatives spoke about emerging priorities for the post-2015 agenda, where healthcare, the value of culture and equitable trading systems were discussed. The possibility that ECOSOC may have a stronger mandate in following up on the recommendations of international summits was also mentioned, with every speaker that mentioned it in favour of the idea.
Speaking in the general debate were Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka; Stanley Simataa, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology of Namibia; Marius Llewellyn Fransman, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa; Cho Tae-Yul, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; Emil Yalnazov, Director-General for Global Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria; Takehiro Kagawa, Director-General of Global Issues, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Alexandre Fasel, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva; Elizabeth Cousens, Representative of the United States to the Economic and Social Council; Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations in New York; Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations in New York; Alexey Borodavkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Luis Piantini Munnigh, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the World Trade Organization in Geneva; Triyono Wibowo, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Paivi Kairamo, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Mikhail Khvostov, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Eviatar Manor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Victoria Marina Velasquez de Aviles, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations Office at Geneva; and Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Also speaking were Adnan Alwosta, Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Wu Haitao, Charge d’Affaires of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Carla Maria Rodriguez Mancia, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Angelica Navarro Llanos, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Sabina Maghanga, Director, Macro Planning Directorate, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Kenya; Zorica Maric-Djordjevic, Special Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Montenegro to the World Trade Organization; Wafaa Bassim, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva; Nelson Messone, Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations in New York; Manjeev Singh Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in New York; Nestor Cruz Toruno, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Maria Luisa Escorel De Moraes, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva; John Burley, Director-General, International Development Law Organization; and Mohamed Seghir Babes, President, International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions.
Representatives of Legion de la Buena Voluntad, Global Fund for Democracy and Development and the International Council for Scientific Unions also took the floor.
The general debate will continue at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 4 July.
High-level Segment General Debate
SARATH AMUNUGAMA, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka, said that in spite of its battle against terrorism, the effects of the tsunami and the financial crisis, Sri Lanka had met its Millennium Development Goals targets in a number of development areas; indeed Sri Lanka was a trendsetter in this field. A zero poverty goal had been set for 2015, and trends in the reduction of infant mortality were set to continue. Sri Lanka’s immunisation system and its efforts in tackling malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS were meeting great success. Education targets were being met. Sri Lanka was using emerging technologies to help it meet these targets and there was a greater focus on science and vocational training. Sri Lanka was committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
STANLEY SIMATAA, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology of Namibia, said information and communication technology was a tool for transformation and sustainable development, allowing public participation, particularly of those in rural areas. However, although these possibilities existed, the challenges for many of their poorer citizens meant that the promise of science and technology had not been realised. The concern for these people was on existential issues, such as clean drinking water and education. Namibia was navigating the balance between meeting the need for these vital services and not being left behind on the dividends of science and technology. Generally, the country had a good technology infrastructure, though was lacking broadband connectivity. A mobile payment system had revolutionised the use of phones. Financing innovation was of critical importance.
MARIUS FRANSMAN, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that the role and mandate of the Economic and Social Council was increasingly important. Poverty reduction achieved through a development model that included technological “leapfrogging” was key to the process. South Africa was committed to south–south cooperation in this area. It also strongly supported principles protecting intellectual property rights and technology transfer between nations. South Africa was part of the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope and many other cutting-edge projects representing technological innovation in Africa and in the world. A National Development Plan toward 2030, with poverty and inequality elimination as its cornerstones, had been adopted; strategic scientific research was a key plank of this plan, as well as of the general aspiration of meeting the Millennium Development Goals and setting out the post-2015 development agenda.
CHO TAE-YUL, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said challenges such as climate change and the economic, food and energy crises made it necessary to look to science and innovation. It was necessary to form effective global partnerships so that the benefits of technology were widely shared. Multinational companies should also play a role here, and the Busan partnership launched in 2012 was a good model for this. Cultural tourism was a growing sector in developing countries. Cultural entrepreneurs needed support in capacity building to get access to markets and reproducing national culture. The Korean Government had embraced the creative economy to try to move from being a fast follower to a fast grower – aiming to create an ecosystem which allowed people to grow ideas. It planned to share experience on industrial development with developing countries and increase its contribution to the global community’s efforts on sustainable development.
EMIL YALNAZOV, Director-General for Global Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said the theme of the meeting, the development of science, technology and innovation, was timely. It was further proof that international cooperation in this field should be front and centre of the post-2015 development agenda. In Bulgaria, investment in scientific research followed European Union guidelines and a national strategic innovation plan was being developed. Internet broadband and e-government technologies were being strengthened to improve transparency. Meanwhile, the protection of cultural heritage was important to Bulgaria, not only in its own right but as a stimulator of economic growth through tourism and other means. Finally the Economic and Social Council had not yet shown it had much relevance to the formation of the post-2015 development agenda, but now was the time to show leadership.
TAKEHIRO KAGAWA, Director-General of Global Issues, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, said ECOSOC had a unique role to play in a new development framework, particularly in relation to effective implementation. Japan had a broad range of knowledge on technology and was open to sharing this with partners, as well as fostering an environment where green technology could develop. Japan also believed that universal health coverage should be included in the goals post-2015. Access to basic healthcare was crucial for people to be free from want and fear. By emphasising the protection and empowerment of individuals people could be allowed to achieve their potential. The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was soon to be held in Japan, and was a good opportunity for Japan to share their experiences from the East Japan disaster. Disasters often had a greater impact on older persons and women, and were a barrier to sustainable development, and could wipe out progress in an instant.
ALEXANDRE FASEL, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, said it was high time that science, technology and innovation was addressed by the Council, as it had been in developed countries for years. Switzerland was committed to placing science and technology at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda to help solve the world’s problems such as climate change, hunger and poverty. Integrated approaches were key. Switzerland, with its high-technology industries and respect for cultural diversity, could help with interdisciplinary approaches and designing content-specific solutions to development problems, as well as promoting the right institutional framework for innovation around the world.
ELIZABETH COUSENS, Representative of the United States to the Economic and Social Council, said education was a top priority for future development in order to create environments where students were passionate about science and could receive training. Online education initiatives had tremendous potential to facilitate learning, and a major push on access could boost growth and create jobs. Connectivity was essential and the United States was seeking to foster a cycle of connectivity and innovation. Collaboration with researchers in developing countries was being increased and investment was also being put into venture capital models. Information and communication technology was fundamental and it was vital to extend broadband access, particularly to women. A predictable intellectual property system was necessary and had many benefits. The United States was making a large investment into the science of climate change, strengthening work to cut emissions and the availability of clean energies.
IBRAHIM M. I. MOHAMED KHEIR, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that science, technology, innovation and culture all had to be enhanced and coordinated in the less-than 1,000 days before the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals passed so that they could be met. Preferential aid to remedy such disparities between the north and the south as the digital divide was desired, as was the setting up of a bank for similar purposes. The development of information and communication technology was, not only good in its own right, but a motor of social cohesion; for this reason Sudan had set up a Technology Ministry. Finally, Sudan believed that traditional knowledge in such scientific fields as agriculture should not be overlooked. However, the Council had to improve its leadership if it hoped to take a leading role in the post-2015 development agenda.
JIM MCLAY, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations in New York, said New Zealand knew it needed to be an ever stronger player in research and development, and as such had increased government funding for this. Much remained to be done in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This showed a future approach needed to encompass social, economic and environmental arenas. Using innovation and technology with local knowledge could increase both agricultural productivity and production. New Zealand had provided a programme for sharing knowledge on agricultural greenhouse gases to countries in the developing world, the latest in a long record of activities to do so. An open and transparent trading system was also needed in a new system. New Zealand was to provide investment for tourism activities in less developed countries in its region.
ALEXEY BORODAVKIN, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that socio-economic threats such as urbanisation, poverty reduction and the digital divide could be solved with sustainable models of production and consumption. Increasing international scientific and technological cooperation was key, particularly as it related to the post-2015 development agenda. Russia had offered to hold a summit on upcoming matters of concern in Sochi. In Russia, a multi-disciplinary approach to innovation was bringing dividends, and companies such as the tele-communications company MTS were world leaders. While the Internet was vital for information dispersal it was also a threat to security through cyber attacks. Recent bilateral agreements between presidents Obama and Putin in this area were to be welcomed.
LUIS PIANTINI MUNNIGH, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, said the Dominican Republic had a national policy and system for science, technology and innovation to drive the move towards a knowledge-based economy. This was to help tackle the many challenges such as climate change and food and energy security it faced as an island state. These goals had been incorporated into law and agreed on by consensus. These efforts sought to create a coherent economy which would competitively engage in the global economy. The recently discussed Inter-American System for Education Innovation to improve alliances in the region was also of value. ECOSOC had an ideal instrument to ensure that the capacity to innovate and drive sustainable development in its Commission on Science and Technology for Development. The Dominican Republic had a considerable cultural industry and it was noted that this was the first time such a topic had been on the agenda of ECOSOC.
TRIYONO WIBOWO, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that integrating science, technology and innovation into development models was central to meeting the Millennium Development Goals in general, but in Indonesia too. Indonesia had worked hard to mainstream innovation and technology into its development agenda, particularly with regard to information and communication tools. It called for more international cooperation not only with respect to technology transfer but also capacity-building. Science, technology and innovation had to form the basis of the post-2015 development framework.
MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said ECOSOC should lead on implementation of the outcomes of the Rio+20 and looked forward to the result of discussions on this in the General Assembly. International financial institutions should take into account the structure of new economies and the specificities of individual countries in their dealings. A new partnership strategy between Belarus and the World Bank was welcome, though the introduction of issues into the World Trade Organization accession process and efforts to apply pressure on issues which were not of an economic nature undermined trust between countries. The report from the Secretary-General was welcome and the practical recommendations made were noted. Emphasis on youth in scientific research and practice was needed. Belarus supported the work done on the World Summit for the Information Society and that of the International Telecommunications Union.
EVIATAR MANOR, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that in its short history Israel had evolved from a fledging agricultural economy to a technological powerhouse. Science was inexorably linked to development as it helped provide the fundamental elements such as medicine and clean water for sustainable progress. Policies adopted had to take into account the entire lifecycle of scientific progress from research to consumption. Israeli scientists were making great progress in sectors of use to the developing world, in particular agricultural science. The participation of women was vital. Israel believed skills transfer, education and capacity building were key elements of future science/development policy.
VICTORIA MARINA VELÁSQUEZ DE AVILÉS, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the focus on liberalising markets did not support the sharing of technologies, creating inequalities, and denying some countries the ability to successfully compete and add value to their product alongside decent work and opportunities. Achieving access to quality education was also a priority, allowing citizens to know their rights and protect them. Education was not a specific action at a specific time and required ongoing commitment. The choice of the theme was timely as they were essential tools to face the main challenges of El Salvador in the twenty-first century. El Salvador needed the responsible use of technologies to promote the dynamic transformation of its country, reduce its consumption of energy based on fossil fuels, and improve food security. Professionals were being trained overseas in engineering and national sciences to bring back knowledge.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, said the structural causes of poverty around the world needed a new production and consumption model. Likewise, in Ecuador the economy was being turned from a production-based economy to a knowledge-based one. Technology, while it was a force for good, needed controls if it was not to be used for violence or warfare. The digital divide needed to be healed. As for the post-2015 development agenda, Ecuador agreed that both science, with respect to such important areas as medicine, and culture, with respect to such vital concerns as heritage and traditional knowledge, should take a privileged place.
OMAR HILALE, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said technology was fast developing and this was deepening the gap between developed and developing countries. The theme of the Economic and Social Council on innovative young entrepreneurs was welcome and Morocco was one of the first countries developing the community of knowledge in advanced technologies to further the competitiveness of Moroccan industries. Since 2009, two ambitious strategies were in place nationally to support innovation and place Morocco in its suitable place among the technology producing countries. In an attempt to support youth in this, an innovation fund had been created to support start-ups. It was also hoped to exchange expertise among the Arab States.
PAIVI KAIRAMO, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office in Geneva, said that science, technology and innovation could sometimes be seen as the preserve of experts but, of course, they were important for all society. A continuous dialogue between society, scientists and policymakers was vital, and Finland considered itself a leader in this field. Women’s participation was an often overlooked element of the integration of science, technology and innovation, public policy and development models. Improved education was also a basic pillar of science, technology and innovation and its relevance to the meeting of the Millennium Development Goals.
ADNAN ALWOSTA, Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Secretary-General’s analysis of science, technology and innovation in promoting the Millennium Development Goals was timely as efforts were being made to accelerate achievement as their end point loomed. Science and technology were catalysts for the implementation of progress and well-being, and this made it important to receive foreign direct investment to foster knowledge in areas such as administration and technology. Human capacities should also be developed in all areas of the economy. In terms of technology transfer, cooperation was still insufficient. Pathways to allow society to take advantage of human and natural resources were also needed. People needed to be able to express opinions according to their own traditions and customs. Libya had a great need for the strengthening of its institutions and reform of its education sector was vital.
WU HAITAO, Chargé d’affaires of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said China endorsed the report of the Secretary-General. However the financial and economic outlook of the moment did not inspire much confidence that its provisions would be taken up. China recommended that science, technology, innovation and culture be woven into the fabric of the post-2015 development agenda. It underlined the right of each country to follow its own development path, and respect for sovereignty had to underpin all international cooperation. Technology transfer had to be sped up. Structures should be built into international organizations to promote and develop science, technology, innovation and culture. China fully participated in south-south partnerships that helped meet the Millennium Development Goals.
CARLA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Guatemala was a middle-income country that was moving forward with full conviction about the need to adapt traditional knowledge towards new technologies. The national competitiveness agenda, the software commission and other bodies were working to close the gaps in access to information and communication technologies. This would not be possible without public-private partnerships. Collaboration had allowed geo-referenced maps to scale crime according to information received from citizens and the police. Applications were also being developed to allow better access to health services. The process of strengthening ECOSOC would leave a body better suited to support sustainable development in a globalized world.
SABINA MAGHANGA, Director, Macro Planning Directorate, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Kenya, said that science, technology and innovation had been identified as vital drivers across the entire economy of Kenya. The Government was working hard to mainstream science, technology and innovation into all its development policies, and had established various research initiatives. In Kenya, agriculture had been transformed through technology, including improvements made in banana farming. Capacity building and assisting young people and women through education reform had taken place. However research funding remained at less than one per cent of gross domestic product, in common with many developing nations.
ZORICA MARIC-DJORDJEVIC, Special Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Montenegro to the World Trade Organization, said Montenegro fully supported the participation of women in science and technology. The value of science, technology and innovation depended upon how it was integrated into national policy and it was recognised that each element played a key role in economic integration. Strengthening cooperation was important and integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development into future goals was a crucial enabler of success. Montenegro agreed that the role of ECOSOC in relation to follow up on international summits and reacting to emergency situations needed to be strengthened.
ANGELICA C. NAVARRO LLANOS, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Bolivia had broken with the dominant development model and had managed to reduce poverty as a result. It was active in various scientific projects but called on the developed world to free up intellectual property standards and improve technology transfer. Indeed these standards contradicted the right to development. For example, the ownership of certain technologies by a handful of multinational companies was actually harmful to the planet. Open and collaborative research models were available and these were better for the common good. Bolivia was active in promoting its ideas in this area within the international organizations.
WAFAA BASSIM, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said its society had witnessed deep changes and transformations and science and technology were creating an important foundation for the generation of jobs and development. Technology was now a pre-requisite to provide security in water, food and a number of other areas worldwide. The report of the Secretary-General made explicit the involvement of science, technology and innovation in the planning after 2015. However, there was a knowledge gap. On the whole, high-income countries had better indicators in all areas of development and 70 per cent of all research happened in the high-income realm. There should be no complex preconditions for assistance in integrating scientific advances into developing countries’ economies. ECOSOC should strengthen scientific capacities and ensure there was a well-balanced intellectual property system globally.
DILIP SINHA, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Secretary-General for his report and said that science, technology and innovation held the key to the sustainability conundrum plaguing the world. As the Millennium Development Goals deadline approached it was important to think about technology transfer and dissemination in an equitable manner under the aegis of the United Nations system. The parallel focus in the discussion on the contribution that culture made to sustainable development was also welcomed; India believed its culture of frugal living could be an example to the world on how to deal with unsustainable over-production and over-consumption.
ZAMIR AKRAM, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Pakistan had often highlighted that patents should be made consistent across the world. Three measures required follow-up from the Pakistani point of view including enhancing modern technological penetration, reducing the cost of renewable technology for energy, and establishing a data revolution for sustainable development. It was noted that language was key, and delivering mobile services in local languages had created a boom in sales. Also, the cost of renewable energy infrastructure was exorbitant in comparison to the purchasing power of the developing world. Countries must monitor future goals more rigorously.
MARIANNE ODETTE BIBALOU, Deputy Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations in New York, said that Gabon had hastened the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by concentrating on three pillars of development: the pillars known as Green Gabon, Industrial Gabon and Services Gabon. Science, technology and innovation ran through all these sectors and Gabon welcomed the focus in the Council on these issues. Science teaching had been improved in Gabon. Protecting cultural heritage was no less important and Gabon welcomed the work that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had been doing in its country with respect to national parks and so on. The post-2015 development agenda would need new thinking in all these areas.
MARIA LUISA ESCOREL DE MORAES, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said science, technology and innovation were crucial drivers of structural development. However, excessive intellectual property rights could be prohibitive to using technologies to improve the quality of life. A balanced scheme was needed between the need for a culture of innovation and a national policy space with a friendly environment. This should be addressed at the multilateral level and could be considered in the post-2015 agenda. Developed countries that had not reached the target of offering the appropriate percentage of the GDP to developing countries should redouble their efforts to reach that target. Education played a fundamental role in promoting science, technology and innovation and Brazil stood ready to engage in south-south cooperation with its partner countries.
JOHN BURLEY, Chargé d'affaires of the International Development Law Organization to the United Nations Office at Geneva, welcomed the chance to put the strengthening of the rule of law with respect to science, technology and innovation, and sustainable development, into the debate. Weaknesses in the rule of law impeded sustainable development and technological progress, as well as the area where they intersected. Equity, justice and development needed a framework based on the rule of law and it was important that these issues were not left off the table as the debate moved forward.
MOHAMED SEGHIR BABES, President, International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, said the Association had been negotiating with the United Nations University to establish an institute for postgraduate studies and applied research, focused on the Millennium Development Goals. This was now agreed and would be established. The challenge to the international community was to transition to new international targets. Was it possible for an organization such as his Association and similar organizations to be better heard?
Legion de la Buena Voluntad said that the key to achieving an equitable society was improving educational technology; it had developed a range of these that had proved to be effective.
Global Fund for Democracy and Development said that it was important for new technologies to be integrated into education; an improvement in science education had been seen in the Dominican Republic.
International Council for Scientific Unions said that pursuing a business-as-usual development path would not work; scientific communities worldwide were committed to sustainable models of development that had science, technology and innovation integral to it.
For use of the information media; not an official record