NEW YORK (IDN) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set up a group of ten experts to provide flesh and blood to the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) that was launched at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015.
The Mechanism seeks to promote science, technology and innovation to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The group consists of representatives of civil society, the private sector and the scientific community.
TFM comprises a United Nations inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation (STI), which currently gathers 25 UN entities; an annual multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation; and an online platform that serves as a gateway for information on existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programmes.
Announcing the appointment of the expert group on January 29 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Ban said it would advise the UN Interagency Task Team, in particular on preparations for the annual meetings of the multi-stakeholder forum and on support for the development and operationalization of the online platform.
The Group consists of both social and natural scientists. They have internationally recognized expertise that covers all stages of the technology and innovation life cycle, from science to research and development to technology deployment.
To mark the Mechanism’s launch in September 2015, the Governments of Brazil and France, with the support of the UN Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs, co-hosted a high-level side event, bringing together multi-stakeholders including Member States, the UN system, civil society, private sector and academia.
The high-level representatives expressed their expectations in relation to the TFM, how it could help achieve the 2030 Agenda and how their countries or organizations are prepared to support its operation.
The Mechanism is the first major United Nations initiative to support the implementation of the SDGs since the Addis Ababa Third International Conference on Financing for Development was held in July 2015. It will be based on multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, private sector, scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders.
“We know from history that science, technology and innovation are the key drivers of economic growth, of poverty reduction, of rising living standards. Now we must ensure that they are among the central enablers for realizing the SDGs and that all countries, particularly the poorest and those furthest behind, can tap into the benefits of modern science, technology and innovation,” said the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketof, at the event.
“Technology can help us live up to the promise to leave no one behind, the technology facilitation mechanism is a new important tool that can make this possible”, said Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. But he also said that the transformative sustainable development goals will only be meaningful once we start implementing and working in a determined way to make them happen. “Today we start the crucial process of turning vision and goals into reality”, he said.
Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, highlighted the important role of technology in the context of the climate negotiations in Paris at the end of the year. A commitment from all parties, private investments, and international partnerships would be needed.
Mauro Vieira, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, stressed the importance of technology for developing countries and his country’s long-standing efforts to achieve progress in this area. He explained that technology facilitation also means enabling developing countries to develop technologies themselves.
Sujata Mehta of the Ministry of External Affairs of India highlighted the important role that Brazil and France have played in developing the TFM, and expressed her hope that the mechanism would become the home for technology discussion at the UN.
Among others, several panellists contributed to the discussion: Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and former Vice-President of Google, USA; Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) head-quartered in South Africa; Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Member of the UN SG’s Scientific Advisory Board, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, Malaysia; Adeline Lescanne, CEO of Nutriset. The event was moderated by Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the New York Office of UNEP.
Members of the ten-member expert group are:
Mr. Peter Bakker (Netherlands), President and CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Prof. Elmer William Jr Colglazier (United States of America), Senior Scholar, Visiting Scientist, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Myrna Cunningham (Nicaragua), President, Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI).
Elenita Daño (Philippines), Asia Director, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group).
Dr. Hayat Sindi (Saudi Arabia), Founder and President, Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity (i2institute).
Dr. Paulo Ernani Gadelha Vieira (Brazil), President, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz).
Dr. Heide Hackmann (South Africa), Executive Director, International Council for Science (ICSU).
Prof. Romain Murenzi (Rwanda), Executive Director, The World Academy of Sciences.
Prof. Nebojsa Nakicenovic (Montenegro), Deputy Director, International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA).
Prof. Xiaolan Fu (United Kingdom), Director, Technology and Management Centre for Development, Oxford University. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 January 2016]