“The UN’s Science Technology and Innovation Forum must be a vehicle for inclusion” States UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the 1st Session of the STI Forum

June 8, 2016

GFDD was present during the first annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI Forum) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from Monday June 7 to Tuesday June 8. During the conference, representatives of UN Member States and Major Groups and Other Stakeholders heard presentations
from panelists and engaged in an interactive dialogue with several eminent keynote speakers including scientists, technologists and innovators. They presented disruptive changes in science, technology and innovations that are crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

H.E. Ambassador Oh Joon, ECOSOC President, called the first STI Forum officially to order, observing that of the SDGs’ 169 targets, about 50 explicitly refer
to technology or are related to major technology issues.

The conference focused on four topics of discussion including:

  • Creating shared value: How do we make it work?
  • Ministerial Dialogue: Towards a roadmap of effective science, technology and innovation policy frameworks
  • The Experience of Youth in using Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development
  • The Way Forward: Adding Value through the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum

Some of the innovators presenting at the Forum included 26-year-old Komal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of COPIA, an organization which uses technology to streamline the process of food donation and distribution, enabling users to receive enhanced tax deductions and reduce
disposal costs, while effortlessly feeding those in need. She gave one of the keynote interventions stressing that “360 million pounds of food are wasted ever day”. Ahmad explained that her app “allows people to donate food in minutes the same way as they would hail an Uber” thus significantly reducing food waste and hunger

Dick Co, Managing Director of the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) next told attendees “We will need a paradigm shift on how science interfaced with technology if we are to achieve the SDGs and end poverty”.

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, was present and concurred with Dick Co stressing that “STI must not be limited to SDG 17” as they cut across all 17 SDGs as an important element of implementation.
Science and technology are important as means to an end, he noted, and said the Forum must link STI with progress in sustainable development at the ground level. He called for the forum to “be a vehicle for inclusion” as is take place each year until 2030 to help find new ways to resolve the global issues outlined in all 17 SDGS and “leave no one

In the closing session, Co-Chair Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya said we will have to work harder over the next few months to maximize the potential of this Forum over the next 14 years, including through intersessional interactions, given the huge agenda ahead. He expressed hope that the Forum will be able to feed into the work of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable
(HLPF) due to meet in July also at UN Headquarters.

Co-Chair Ambassador Vaughan Turekian of the USA said that achieving the SDGs requires better integration of science, technology and innovation, involving a vast number of stakeholders. He added that STI enabling environments are critical to achieve the SDGs over the next 14 years.

ECOSOC President Oh Joon concluded the Forum stating that it is time to make the Technology Facilitation Mechanism operational and beneficial for all, and called for everyone’s continued cooperation to mobilize great minds and build lasting partnerships. He said we need to strengthen STI capacity in every country, create innovative knowledge societies that use scientific evidence to inform policy, make advances that greatly facilitate technology
transfer and diffusion, and support social technologies to change mindsets and behaviors.

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