The inaugural meeting of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—STI Forum—took place at UN Headquarters in New York on 6-7 June 2016.
The STI Forum is a component of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The TFM also includes an Inter-Agency Task Team on STI for SDGs (IATT), a 10-Member Group, and an online platform.
The IATT is comprised of several UN agencies, and co-chaired by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The 10-Member Group was appointed in January 2016 to work with the IATT to prepare for the STI Forum, and develop and operationalize the TFM’s online platform, among other tasks. The Group held its first in-person meeting in March 2016. It elected as co-chairs William Colglazier, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Heide Hackmann, International Council for Science (ICSU).
The online platform is expected to provide a comprehensive mapping of existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programmes within and beyond the UN.
The TFM was officially launched in UN General Assembly resolution 70/1 in September 2015, which calls on the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to convene the STI Forum once a year to discuss cooperating on STI around thematic areas for the implementation of the SDGs.
In April 2016, ECOSOC President Oh Joon appointed Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State, as co-chairs of the first STI Forum.
The inaugural STI Forum focused on the topic of “realizing the potential of science, technology and innovation for all to achieve the SDGs.” Five questions were outlined to guide the Forum’s preparations and were the subject of online consultations in April and May.
- Why are science, technology and innovation essential for the achievement of the SDGs?
- What are the main opportunities and challenges—at policy, organizational and individual levels—for maximizing the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the achievement of the SDGs?
- What are the key elements that countries and international organizations may need to take into account in formulating action plans and/or roadmaps for science, technology and innovation for the SDGs?
- How can we deploy existing knowledge and new, innovative solutions and technologies and make them more readily available to those who need them?
- What would be success criteria for the STI Forum in the coming years? What questions should the STI Forum focus on?
Participants at the Forum were seated in alternating rows of UN Member States and Stakeholders, and each panel was followed by extensive interactive discussions. The “innovative” configuration and format were welcomed by many speakers.
In addition to the topics that headlined the eight discussion sessions, panelists, participants and the Co-Chairs also considered the purpose of the STI Forum itself, and how it can fulfill its purpose in the future. Some called for the Forum to consider technology transfer issues and bridging technological divides, while others looked forward to “collective learning” around knowledge and STI. Several participants stressed the Forum’s role as a platform for communities to identify needs for STI to better support sustainable development, and to raise concerns about technology’s applications.
A repeated thread of discussion highlighted the SDGs’ potential to be disruptive to established policies and practices. But cautions were also flagged about STIs’ potential negative impacts, including on countries and communities that lack the ability to be fast adopters.
At the end of the two-day Forum, the 10-Member Group for the TFM provided an indication of how it will take on the views expressed by participants. Heide Hackmann, Co-Chair of the 10-Member Group, said the STI Forum cannot be limited to an annual, two-day discussion, but must be the outcome of a year-long programme of results-oriented work, serving as a moment to collaboratively define priorities for the next year. She outlined concrete objectives that the Forum’s annual programme of work could take on. The 10-Member Group also will develop success indicators for the STI Forum and the TFM overall, she said.
Reflections from the Forum’s Co-Chairs highlighted the need to bring more people, countries and communities on board to benefit from STI, and the need to ensure STI protects the planet and climate.
The Co-Chairs are expected to produce a summary of the STI Forum, and asked ECOSOC President Oh Joon to ensure that the Forum is able to report on its discussions and plans to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2016.
SESSION 1: THE POWER OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
The STI Forum opened on Monday with a video introducing the SDGs, noting that their success will depend on merging the worlds of science, technology and innovation with the needs of communities and people.
Co-Chair Macharia Kamau welcomed participants to the “milestone event” since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
Co-Chair Vaughan Turekian said he looked forward to participants sharing innovative solutions to the challenges identified in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. He said governments and stakeholders must “innovate together” to achieve the SDGs. Co-Chair Kamau said the SDGs will be “hugely disruptive” in how we execute development cooperation, and that STI is needed to deliver the Goals.
The session featured three keynote speakers: a scientist, a technologist, and an innovator, presenting on changes that are crucial for the SDGs.
The first keynote speaker, Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research & Development and Founder of FIRST, said the most important global challenge is to create the next generation of scientists, technologists and innovators, and make sure they are distributed around the world. His organization, FIRST, has created “teams” of students in 86 countries to make math, science and engineering exciting.
Dick Co, Solar Fuel Institute (SOFI), stressed the key role of technology in achieving SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, including by replicating photosynthesis for creating solar fuels. He highlighted the need for sustained government funding in research and innovation.
Komal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of COPIA, stressed that hunger is a problem not only in the poorest countries in the world but also in the wealthiest, and explained how technology can instantly connect those who need food with those who have it, to end hunger and reduce food waste. She underlined that it is time for ending hunger to meet technology, such as by using the COPIA app.
Thailand, speaking for the Group of 77 and China, urged technical assistance from developed countries in capacity building, such as through training. He said the STI Forum should channel the resources needed to address developing countries’ infrastructure and capacity constraints and facilitate the transfer and dissemination of relevant technologies.
WELCOME ADDRESS AND OPENING SEGMENT
ECOSOC President Oh Joon observed that of the SDGs’ 169 targets, approximately 50 explicitly refer to technology or are related to major technology issues. He said the TFM is foreseen as a key instrument of the AAAA, 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement on climate change. The STI Forum, he noted, can provide space for Member States, entrepreneurs, scientists, creators and innovators around the world to discuss STI cooperation for implementing the SDGs.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said STI must not be limited to SDG 17, because STI cuts across all 17 SDGs as an important element of implementation. He called for the Forum to link STI with sustainable development progress at the ground level, noting that science and technology are important as a means to an end. He urged participants to make STI a vehicle for inclusion, poverty eradication and sustainable development.
On behalf of UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan and Acting General Assembly President, said discussions at the General Assembly’s High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the SDGs, held in April 2016, had shown that in spite of unprecedented progress on STI issues in recent decades, a significant technological divide remains between countries.
SESSION 2: ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), called for investing in human knowledge as a valuable, non-exhaustible resource, cumulative over time. He stressed the need to: include STI in national and international action plans for achieving the SDGs; harness knowledge, insights, and advice from all sources; and ensure periodic feedback and evaluation from the STI community to enable policy and SDG coherence.
Gillian Marcelle, University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Bank, underscored the need to: include the financial sector in STI discussions; re-conceptualize innovation to produce both technological and social value; and avoid the concept of technology transfer, to instead look at the developing world as a source of knowledge that produces value.
Pamela McCauley, University of Central Florida, underlined the need to: evaluate and establish each country’s technology readiness level (TRL); determine TRL by sector; strategically develop and educate the workforce; and identify strategic alliances and collaborations.
Sachin Chaturvedi, Indian Research and Information System for Developing Countries, called for attention to: environmental, technological, and cost effectiveness; incentives for partnerships; and identifying the way in which the TFM will be connected with ground-level institutions.
In a moderated discussion and interventions from the floor, Member States raised issues including: countries’ differing levels of connectivity and access to technology; the importance of capacity building in the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states, and middle income countries; disseminating and transferring technologies to developing countries on favorable terms, in particular environmentally sound technologies on concessional and preferential terms, and the need for the STI Forum to provide guidance on addressing “onerous” terms to access technology; the role of clean technologies for supporting the transition to low-emission and climate-resilient development; that countries with high debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratios cannot take advantage of information and communication technologies (ICTs); technology transfer as a means of implementation (MOI) of the 2030 Agenda; the need to promote STI in discussions on financing for development, as a “necessary update for the global MOI policy framework”; and the need for appropriateness and adaptability of technology to local conditions.
Stakeholders said: publicly funded research should be publicly available; not every problem has a technology or science solution; the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) should be enhanced to enable access to technology; sustainability metrics are needed for both positive and negative types of technological “disruptions”; unproven, unregulated technologies should not be on the menu of the Forum; and the Forum will be groundbreaking if it is used to “cross-fertilize” different types of science and knowledge systems.
Participants and panel members also underscored the need for: the STI Forum to bridge existing STI initiatives; involvement of the private sector; democratizing the means for STI development; upfront investments and new financial mechanisms, as the current ones want fast and high returns on investment; clearly identifying how the needed financing mechanisms will be embedded in the TFM; consolidating society’s support for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; mainstreaming STI in society to develop a scientific culture; and increasing investment in research and development (R&D).
Co-Chair Kamau invited participants to suggest ways in which they could organize themselves and create an outcome containing concrete recommendations that could be used by the UN system and other stakeholders moving forward. He cautioned that the STI Forum “cannot be only a talk-shop.”
SESSION 3: REALIZING THE POTENTIAL OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FOR THE SDGS
On Monday afternoon, Session 3 moderator Xiaolan Fu, Director, Technology and Management Centre for Development, Oxford University, highlighted that technological change is not neutral, but favors either labor or capital, and that innovation is path-dependent and favors those with more knowledge and skills.
William Colglazier, Co-Chair, 10-Member Group for the TFM, said the TFM’s priorities should be: actions and policies that strengthen STI capabilities in every country; platforms for sharing knowledge, information, experiences and advice on relevant policies, actions, partnerships, technologies and R&D outcomes; and mechanisms for developing action plans for achieving the SDGs, nationally and internationally. He also drew attention to the Group’s nine major observations, available online, on how to harness STI to achieve the SDGs. Finally, Colglazier highlighted the usefulness of the Global Sustainable Development Report, the forthcoming 2016 edition of which will address technology and emerging issues.
Solomon Assefa, Director, IBM Research Africa, highlighted commercially viable technologies that improve human lives, saying recent advances were made possible by foundational science and research (e.g., machine learning, nanotechnology, and computational biology), and by decades of research and massive investment by government and the private sector. He called for a framework to address science funding challenges, especially through private-public partnerships, and to ensure that research efforts are coordinated, not replicated. Regarding concerns about regulatory frameworks for data, Solomon said we must use the platforms we have, and perfect them over time, and that anonymization can address privacy concerns.
Nicola Bettio, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, noted that the University’s technological projects focus on issues related to water, energy, food and the environment. Since the demand for power in Saudi Arabia will triple over the next 20 years, he stressed the need for cost-effective technologies to facilitate the transition to renewable energies, including by “leapfrogging.”
In the ensuing discussion, Member States highlighted the need for: all countries to create enabling environments and become sources of innovation; enhancing North-South, South-South, and triangular cooperation; capitalizing on technological advances to end hunger and step up sustainable agriculture; investing in human capital development; mapping global scientific and technological mechanisms and fora that allow for international cooperation; including marginalized groups in developing technologies; and supporting innovation from indigenous people. Some said the STI Forum should focus on coordinating existing initiatives and identifying best practices. Several governments expressed strong support for the multi-stakeholder format to ensure that contributions from the private sector, civil society and academia can enrich discussions.
Stakeholders highlighted: the potential of big data, open data; the need for STEM education to broaden the base of innovators; and the important role of bamboo in seismic regions, like Nepal, as an example of how the developed world can learn from developing countries. Participants also said: STI must be purpose-driven, with the purpose defined by communities; the majority of funding goes to technologies that do not respond to poor people’s perspectives and needs; there is a gap between the “bottom billion” that can be served by innovations, and those with the ability to scale up innovations; and that the Forum will need to have a foresight function.
Co-Chair Kamau said the SDGs have the potential to disrupt unsustainable policy directions, but could become a problem if they give an unfair advantage to fast adapters. The Forum should come up with solutions to drive STI to the advantage of all, recognizing that those furthest behind need the most help, he added.
SESSION 4: TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR SDGS
Moderator Nick Perkins, Director, SciDev.Net, called attention to the process of enabling technological leapfrogging, which he said differs from technology transfer as it empowers recipient communities to innovate through intense socialization and technological acclimatization. He stressed the need to focus not only on R&D’s quantity, but also quality.
Cynthia Breazeal, founder and director of MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, underlined the need to: invest and galvanize global efforts to create an Open Digital Education Platform to leverage the global community of scientists, innovators, technologists, and stakeholders to help achieve SDG 4 on education; embrace the iterative, data-driven process of digital innovation for effective interventions that are scalable, affordable, and rapidly deployable; derive solutions in the context of “living labs” with stakeholders around the world; and empower children with no access to school to learn.
Arjoon Suddhoo, Executive Director, Mauritius Research Council, underscored that innovating in the private sector and in government are two different facets of innovation. He highlighted the necessity to: motivate students to opt for studying science and math; promote open access data policy; and promote marine ICT, big data, and high performance computing. He explained how Mauritius plans to use deep sea water to replace air conditioning from fossil fuels.
Carlos Morel, Director, Brazilian National Institute of Science and Technology for Innovation in Neglected Diseases, highlighted the Baby Thermocrown, a portable, affordable device to treat neonatal encephalopathy through therapeutic hypothermia during the first six hours of life.
Participants highlighted the need for social technologies and innovations, and welcomed the use of closed captioning on the meeting’s screen projections and webcast. One added that people who are hard of hearing or are non-native English speakers lack access to many meetings, videos, and broadcasts. On inclusiveness in technology, Suddhoo called for a balance between investing in inclusive and disruptive technologies, although they will “converge in the long term.” Breazeal called for providing tools to allow people with all needs to innovate.
Co-Chair Kamau noted critiques that solutions recommended by the UN depend on technologies that must be supplied to countries in need by external sources, such as developed countries.
Representatives of UN agencies: explained how partnerships with the private sector on remote sensing can help tackle climate change and deforestation; stressed the need to build up from local systems and from knowledge that exists within local communities; and called for making the TFM as demand-driven as possible to respond to the needs of the poorest and the most marginalized.
SESSION 5: CREATING SHARED VALUE: HOW DO WE MAKE IT WORK?
Co-Chair Kamau opened the second day of the STI Forum with a request to participants to consider how the Forum should work in the future. He asked whether it should convene more than once per year, if other formats should be explored, such as “practice areas,” and what kind of output it should produce.
Moderator Romain Murenzi, 10-Member Group for the TFM, noted the session’s focus on networking and matchmaking for building capacity, bringing solutions to those who need them, and reaching those furthest behind. He suggested that “shared values” could include quality science, transparency and openness, and ethical conduct of research including respect for intellectual property rights.
Alexis Bonnell, Global Innovation Exchange and US Agency for International Development, noted that democratizing the sources of solutions has led to significant duplication, such as in the area of solar lanterns, and stressed that innovation supply must connect to true demand and application. She called for identifying barriers to adoption. She added that innovators and entrepreneurs can benefit from business plans, marketing, and other types of support, in addition to grants.
Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO, Internet Matters, outlined the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which is convened by the UN Secretary-General and provides for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue and exchange of best practices. She said a body needs strong intersessional activity to deal with long-standing problems. IGF’s intersessional processes include: national and regional initiatives; Best Practice Forums to address “tactical issues” (such as spam, online abuse, and cybersecurity), which produce “good practices” documents; and community-driven “dynamic coalitions” to address specific needs.
Tolullah Oni, Next Einstein Fellow, called for new partnerships to enable sectors to “reach out and occupy each other’s spaces,” and cross-pollinate ideas. She highlighted the need for “academic coherence” and expressed concern about “perverse incentives” that inhibit scientists from refocusing their endeavors to address global goals such as the SDGs. Oni also called for building buy-in to the values of the SDGs, and involve those with the capacity to finance and implement at scale.
In the ensuing discussion, UN agencies suggested the STI Forum: convene more often than once a year; have an interactive format, with thematic break-out sessions; have a practical output; and hold regional STI fora to identify regional priorities and feed into the global Forum.
Stakeholders stressed the need to: consider cultural compatibility when disseminating technology; create a business advisory group for the 10-Member Group for the TFM; discuss the STI Forum’s summary in an interactive format at the HLPF; organize online gatherings on thematic challenges between face-to-face sessions; and create a mechanism for civil society to bring inputs to the TFM. World Vision called for creating a new academic model to unleash the “genius gene.” The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for the Paris 21 Secretariat, invited participants to find solutions to help the private sector bypass bureaucratic government processes; and provide incentives for private sector engagement, such as market-based structures that support innovations.
Wrapping up the discussion, Co-Chair Kamau underlined the need for the STI Forum to come with solutions that provide transformed life opportunities for people, not only transformed living conditions. He expressed hope that the 10-Member Group for the TFM will consider the recommendations received and develop suggestions for reconfiguring the STI Forum and better integrating the regional dimension.
SESSION 6: MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE: TOWARDS A ROADMAP OF EFFECTIVE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION POLICY FRAMEWORKS
Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs, moderated the ministerial dialogue, which aimed to identify elements of government and international organization action plans and road maps for STI for the SDGs, and also examine governments’ engagement of youth and women innovators. Wu said governments must put in place enabling environments to catalyze STI initiatives, and should devise road maps for creating such environments to ensure STI can support national development goals. Wu also said STI is “not only about machines and equipment,” but education, skills, training, capacity building and public policies that foster innovation.
Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information Communications and Technology, Kenya, described the Kenya Vision 2030, a blueprint to use STI as the basis for economic, political and social advancement to transition Kenya to a middle-income country. He said the government’s support to innovators includes the Presidential Talent Programme, for youth and innovation, the Digital Literacy Programme, for the workforce, and Enterprise Kenya, for start-ups. Mucheru said each country needs a champion to drive multi-stakeholder involvement around STI. He added that STIs can help create employment in developing markets.
Megan Smith, US Chief Technology Officer, highlighted examples of initiatives that seek to “network talent”: the UN Solutions Summit held in September 2015, the Maker movement, Black Girls Code, and civic hacking events. She said such efforts seek to democratize access to innovation and “develop creative confidence.” She also stressed the need to bring “coding, hacking, and Burning Man behavior” into government, and use digital applications for the complicated tasks involved in realizing the SDGs. Smith also highlighted inclusion, saying science and technology can help drive out unconscious, implicit and institutional bias against women, people of color and others in curricula, positions of power, workplaces, media, and public places.
Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dominican Republic, stressed the need to train secondary teachers in science, as well as to ensure science is taught at the earliest ages for the entire population. She also highlighted: a government fund to finance citizens’ scientific research, which has already reached 700 researchers; a national commission for educational innovation; and her government’s “Digital Republic” initiative, in which the public and private sectors work together to bring internet access to vulnerable and rural communities. Melo de Cardona said an annual meeting of the STI Forum is not enough, and in addition to each country’s follow-up to the SDGs, the UN should systematically support regional meetings and facilitate partnerships.
In the ensuing discussion, Member States addressed: the need to establish an STI international mechanism to remove barriers in technology transfer; that the TFM should help developing countries innovate and should create a supportive environment for the transfer of clean technologies; the importance of UN support to international initiatives that promote STEM education in developing countries; fostering innovation in developing countries through Open Innovation Platforms; deploying official development assistance (ODA) strategically to reach the poorest and the most vulnerable, including through technological support; and engaging youth innovators in policy discussions. China announced that it has started to implement an “STI for SDGs” national strategy.
Stakeholders called for norm-setting and policy support to keep the internet socialized and democratic. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat announced that 36 countries have completed needs assessments so far, submitting more than 300 country technology action plans. The assessment process has highlighted the need for: technological plans to clearly identify benefits, key actions, and necessary budgets; strong stakeholder consultations and engagement both in the drafting and construction phases; and champions who can support and promote the technology action plans.
SESSION 7: THE EXPERIENCE OF YOUTH IN USING SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Moderator Elenita Daño, Asia Director, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), invited youth to explain how they are using new approaches and perspectives to innovate and develop solutions to achieve the SDGs.
Hannah Herbst, 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge winner, described “Beacon,” a device she invented to derive power from the kinetic energy of ocean water to help people living in energy poverty. She said hands-on education is needed to make innovation possible in classrooms, to overcome the lack of exposure and resources for many. She also called for creating an environment in which we do not learn as “boys” and “girls” but “scientists” and “students.”
David Moinina Sengeh, co-founder of Global Minimum Inc. and 2014 TED Fellow, noted that thousands of young people in Kenya and Sierra Leone are “learning to make and making to learn” through innovation labs, like Innovate Kenya. He called for focusing on “learning how to learn” and adapting the education system to how innovation really happens on the ground, as even kindergarten children can innovate. He underscored that communication and connectivity are vital skills and can only learned by doing. He called for changes in curriculum, evaluation criteria, and the cultural environment in classes, as solutions need to be similar but gender sensitive.
Gusti Ayu Fransiska Dewi, co-founder of Asia Pacific Youth Network on Climate Change and Field Coordinator, Climate at the Rainforest Alliance, highlighted the benefits of a participatory approach to research for empowering young people to get involved in technology development. She invited the scientific community and policymakers to investigate the science behind indigenous knowledge, and combine social and biological sciences when designing technology. Dewi stressed the need to avoid creating conflicts when solving one problem (e.g., access to water) can create another (e.g., community conflicts around the ownership of that technology). On the role of young innovators in the TFM, she said they can contribute by gathering relevant data for SDG implementation, and assist in the “translation” of new science and technologies into local vocabularies, structures and behaviors for indigenous people.
Participants representing students, NGOs, the Major Group for Children and Youth, and UN agencies made suggestions including: mandatory courses on sustainability in all elementary and high schools worldwide; lowering the cost of laboratory equipment to enable underprivileged communities to participate in research; and embedding digital literacy in curricula.
Summarizing the discussion, Daño said the conversation revealed the need for an educational system that: promotes creativity and critical thinking; is gender sensitive; and supports innovation to respond to development challenges.
Co-Chair Kamau called for recognizing the great developments of the past several decades, such as the civil rights movement, as only by celebrating past successes we can seize the immense potential of the future. The future promises so much, he said, precisely because the past has already delivered so much.
SESSION 8: THE WAY FORWARD: ADDING VALUE THROUGH THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FORUM
Benedicto Fonseca Filho, Vice Chair of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, said the Commission advises ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly on science and technology for development, and that its coming priorities will be to support the SDGs’ implementation, and use STI to support food security.
Heide Hackmann, Co-Chair of the 10-Member Group for the TFM, agreed that the 2030 Agenda can have a transformative, disruptive nature if implemented effectively. She said the STI Forum cannot be limited to an annual, two-day discussion, but must be the outcome of a year-long programme of results-oriented work, serving as a moment to collaboratively define priorities for the next year. The Forum’s annual programme of work should address concrete objectives, she said, such as:
- Regularly monitor and share trends in deployment of STI, showcase specific solutions and achievements, and discuss how to develop policy road maps and multilateral resource mobilization efforts;
- Coordinate, bring together and make available state-of-the-art expertise on specific issues on practice areas;
- Identify emerging priorities and critical gaps in knowledge and innovation;
- Identify “neglected” SDGs and how to stimulate STI responses to them; and
- Continue building the STI-for-SDGs community of collaborators and provide opportunities for matchmaking.
Hackmann said the 10-Member Group will work with the IATT to refine these objectives and develop appropriate actions to address them, including by working with specialized agencies and groupings to report on trends in STI for SDGs, developing success indicators for the Forum and TFM, and “horizon scanning.”
Participants highlighted: the need to transform traditional science and research systems to be more innovation- and solution-oriented, and to improve collaboration between policy, funding, and research bodies; the role of governments in setting national SDG targets and advancing progress; that the STI Forum’s activities should include assessing new technologies; that the STI Forum should advocate for the voice of national statistical systems; the need for government guidance in developing a “results framework” for the TFM; the value of involving finance ministers in the Forum’s conversations; and the need to mobilize multilateral financing.
Co-Chair Kamau said the Forum’s discussions had shown that the Forum is “a collective,” working together to drive STI for impact on the SDGs. He noted that while STI has led to incredible progress in recent years, “a lot of people have been left behind,” and STI practices have not adequately protected the planet. Kamau said that the Forum’s configuration might change to accommodate intersessional opportunities to interact, in addition to the “flagship event” of the annual Forum. He asked for ECOSOC President Oh’s assistance with the HLPF to ensure the STI Forum can feed back to the larger membership regarding its work and where it intends to head over the next 14 years.
Co-Chair Turekian said the STI Forum highlighted the importance of creating enabling environments for the SDGs through: education; training; government policies; finding effective ways to use and diffuse technology; and sourcing local innovation to respond to local needs. He noted that, like science, “the STI Forum is testable and, as we test it, we can see what we can do better next time.”
Closing the Forum, ECOSOC President Oh Joon said ahead lies the “vast task” of making the TFM “fully operational and usable for all,” and expressed hope that Member States, UN agencies, international institutions and stakeholders will continue to cooperate “to bring together great minds.”
Presenting his conclusions of the two-day meeting, Oh noted the need to strengthen efforts to: create innovative knowledge societies; advance STI policy coherence to enable technology development and diffusion; and support social technologies that are critical to change mindsets, behaviors, and help those left behind. Oh said participants in the Forum suggested the next STI Forum should work in a cumulative manner, building on the knowledge gathered at this session, have intersessional activities and maybe an annual programme of work, and invite all stakeholders to identify concrete ways in which they can contribute to implementation of the SDGs.
ECOSOC President Oh Joon closed the Forum at 5:45 pm.