Senior United Nations officials, policymakers, civil society representatives and other stakeholders gathered today at UN Headquarters in New York for a special Economic and Social Council forum on mobilizing science, technology and innovation for sustainable development.
“Science, technology and innovation hold great potential as tools and enable to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo.
“They can be used to promote health, increase productivity, improve the efficiency of resource use, and reduce negative human impacts on the environment. They will be critical to tackling some of the major sustainable development challenges of this century. These include providing food security to a growing population, eradicating poverty and tackling climate change.”
Attended by policymakers, key stakeholders and UN system representatives, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Integration Meeting seeks to follow-up on the commitments made by world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June last year.
That historic summit recognized ECOSOC’s role in achieving a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, and adopted an outcome document, The Future We Want. Following the Conference, ECOSOC held a Ministerial meeting in September, where participants discussed how to strengthen the multilateral system for sustainable development.
Mr. Wu underlined that ensuring food security and universal access to sustainable energy are “complex challenges” that “must be addressed in an integrated way.”
“Some of the technological solutions are simple, as with clean cook stoves. However, social and economic barriers to their broader diffusion can be complex,” he said. “Innovation extends beyond developing hardware, to finding solutions, to the broad social acceptance and economic affordability of improved technologies.
In his opening remarks, Deputy-Secretary General Jan Eliasson stressed the importance of Council in promoting balanced integration of different dimensions to sustainable development in the UN system, and called for cooperation to achieve not just sustainable development objectives but also the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Agreed on by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, the eight MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and the creation of a ‘Global Partnership for Development – all by a deadline of 2015.
“The world is counting on the UN to deliver, to be a catalytic force and to set the direction for the road ahead,” he said. “This means that we have to work with the Millennium Development Goals not yet achieved and at the same time, look beyond 2015 and the new sustainable development agenda.”
ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio said the meeting would identify potential policy changes, facilitate a multi-stakeholder dialogue, develop a clear understanding of how science, technology and innovation relates to sustainable development, and identify new policies at local, national and international levels.