Make Sustainable Development Goals Relevant to Citizens, Speakers Tell High-level Political Forum, as Discussions Centre on Reaching Successful 2030 Agenda Results

| July 14, 2016

National-level implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be country owned and context specific, with its goals closely linked to national values and priorities, stressed speakers as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development entered its third day.

The Forum held four panels exploring early national implementation efforts as well as future plans, with panellists and other participants pinpointing examples of good practices and identifying challenges.  The panels’ themes were “Creating ownership at the national level”, “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals into national policies, plans and strategies and integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development”, “Vertical cooperation:  Local authorities and national Governments working together for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda”, and “Challenges in mobilizing means of implementation at the national level (financing, technology, capacity-building)”.

“We need to begin by making the Sustainable Development Goals relevant and as close to our countries and people as possible,” said Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, Chief Executive Officer of PURE Consulting, who served as a lead discussant.  While many countries had made early strides, there was still much work to do in implementing the 2030 Agenda, she said, including raising public awareness of that collective journey.

The notion of public support and the importance of including diverse stakeholders in the implementation process were echoed by a number of speakers throughout the day.  Adolfo Ayuso, Deputy Director General for International Affairs in the Office of the President of Mexico, said that his Government had worked to get the message out about the 2030 Agenda to ensure that people understood its purpose and objectives, particularly at the local level.  The ability to achieve national ownership would be directly related to the ability to understand the new development framework.  There must also be a willingness to participate in implementing the 2030 Agenda through the recognition that it was not only about rights, but also obligations.

Along similar lines, many speakers stressed the need to avoid imposing a “one-size-fits-all” approach on countries as they worked to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Indeed, some said, while those targets were universal in nature, they must be balanced with national priorities and achieved in ways that made sense on the ground.

Underscoring the importance of striking that balance was Louis Meuleman, Senior Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Wageningen University, Netherlands.   He emphasized that creating national ownership of the 2030 Agenda would only be possible if the Sustainable Development Goals appealed to what people knew, understood and found logical.  One could not create ownership by telling stakeholders to forget everything they believed in.  Balancing the universal goals with national values and traditions would be vital, he said, stressing that external blueprints — including so-called best practices — should not be applied.

Wardarina Thaib, Programme Officer from the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism, who also represented the major group for women, described promising early implementation efforts taking place across the region.  However, there were also many warning signs that the 2030 Agenda’s ambitions would be undermined, including failures to address systemic exclusion and to involve civil society in development planning.  Larger and more far-reaching trade treaties had been agreed upon, States were engaging in proxy wars and land-grabbing and there were increasing attacks on human rights defenders, she said.

Along with challenges, panellists also discussed a number of solutions.  Joseph Enyimu, economist at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda, emphasized that the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would require mature institutions within countries and adequate policy space.  Fiscal discipline would be critical, as funds for the various dimensions of sustainable development often came from the same source and the international community must rally around country-led statistical development.

The Forum will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 14 July, to continue its session.

Panel I

The first panel, titled “Creating ownership at the national level”, was moderated by Jessica Espey, Associate Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  It featured Yonglong Lu, professor at State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Louis Meuleman, senior fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Wageningen University, Netherlands.  The lead discussants were Annika Lindblom, Counsellor to the Ministry of the Environment of Finland; Ivane Shamugia, Head of the Donor Coordination Unit, Administration of the Government of Georgia; Adolfo Ayuso, Deputy Director General for International Affairs in the Office of the President of Mexico; and Gomer Padong, Development Cooperation and Advocacy Director of the Philippine Social Enterprise Network.

Ms. ESPEY said that during the discussion, participants would consider three key questions: how Member States could strike a balance between the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the national challenges that may exist; the issue of data collection with regard to implementation of the agenda; and the implications of the national context on global monitoring and evaluation efforts.

Mr. YONGLONG said national strategies would be critically important for the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals depended on a strong commitment from leadership and the success of the 2030 Agenda hinged on institutional reforms and a continuous evaluation of the progress made.  Also needed was a set of practical indices for tracking progress on each goal.  Monitoring would be essential for the implementation of the development objectives.  Criteria needed to be identified against which progress towards the goals was judged.  A peer-review mechanism through the United Nations to evaluate the implementation of the goals should take place every three to five years and data must be standardized and verified.

Mr. MEULEMAN emphasized that balancing universality with national contexts would be essential for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Creating national ownership would only be possible if the Sustainable Development Goals appealed to what people knew, understood and found logical.  One could not create ownership by telling stakeholders to forget everything they believed in.  Balancing the universal goals with national values and traditions would be vital.  External blueprints should not be used for implementation, including so-called best practices.  Encouraging ownership from civil society and the private sector would present additional challenges.  He urged Member States to use governance tools that already had a good track record in their particular countries, but highlighted the need to use other measures.  Countries could not afford to ignore tools simply because they were unfamiliar, he said, adding that partnerships and market-based measures should not be forgotten.

Ms. LINDBLOM said that it would be difficult to start implementing the 2030 Agenda with institutional structures that did not allow for crossing boundaries or with stakeholders that did not recognize the interrelated nature of the goals.  Trust was critical for building ownership.  Governments must demonstrate leadership and take overall responsibility for implementing the future development agenda and also identify ways to build partnerships with civil society and other actors.  Creating ownership would not occur overnight.  Ownership for sustainable development would take time, patience and planning.  The ability to do things differently was of great importance, as was the willingness to change the course of previous means and measures if they were ineffective.  Ownership could only be achieved through a bottom-up participatory approach, with continuous dialogue and trust.

Mr. SHAMUGIA noted that Georgia was facing complex transformational challenges with regard to its development objectives.  Georgia was working to avoid creating additional bureaucratic hurdles while nationalizing the Sustainable Development Goals.  It would be important for Georgia to use existing targets and indicators for the goals when devising new national development strategies.  Engagement at the local and regional levels was also important.  Yet, the availability of data presented a serious challenge.  Georgia was one of the rare examples of a country that had grappled with poor governance and poverty, but had moved out of that dynamic towards stronger development.

Mr. AYUSO said that Mexico had worked to get the message out about the 2030 Agenda to ensure that people understood its purpose and objectives, particularly at the local level.  The ability to achieve national ownership would be directly related to the ability to understand the new development framework.  There must also be a willingness to participate through the recognition that it was not only about rights, but also obligations.  Mexico was working to devise a national platform for open data to monitor progress toward reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. PADONG said the biggest difference between the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals was ownership.  The new goals were the result of a broad intergovernmental process and widespread engagement with a range of stakeholders.  Inclusive participation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would ensure the necessary ownership of the framework on all levels, including at the country level.  Leaving no one behind was a commitment to resist “quick fixes” in an effort to reach everybody, including the most vulnerable and marginalized.  Those lagging farthest behind needed to be reached first, bearing in mind that in many developing countries, those left behind were actually the majority of the population.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers discussed national plans and challenges.

The representative of Italy said steps were being taken with regard to national ownership of the development agenda, including by instituting reforms and reaching out to a broad range of actors across civil society.  The United Nations had a fundamental role to play in helping to promote national ownership, although more could be done to reform the Organization’s overall development system.

The representative of Benin questioned how governance could be shared and diversified around the world, particularly given the detrimental actions of some countries and international financial institutions.

A representative of the major group for women said the active participation of grassroots women’s organizations in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would be critical for its success.

Mr. MEULEMAN said it was often difficult to construct participative approaches to development.  Changing mindsets would be an important component of the future development agenda.  It was important to recognize that the Sustainable Development Goals would not be able to address power struggles between and within countries.

Mr. YONGLONG said the 2030 Agenda would force leaders and citizens to think about development in the long term.  He noted that civil society should work closely with academia to strengthen their individual voices.

The representative of Botswana said one of the particular challenges of national ownership was the disconnect between traditional development institutions and those that sought to mainstream efforts.  Another challenge that existed was how to avoid creating new layers of institutions that could actually hinder the development process.

The representative of Senegal said that often there were sound planning policies in place at the national level, but that they were not always in compliance with global requirements.

The representative of Palau stressed the need for the integration of traditions and cultures into modern-day governance.

A representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union noted that there was still an implementation gap in areas where parliaments could and should be involved in the 2030 Agenda, but were not being invited to do so.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Malaysia, Kenya, Algeria and Indonesia.  A representative of the major group for indigenous peoples also spoke.

Panel II

The second panel discussion, on “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals into national policies, plans and strategies and integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development”, was chaired by Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), Vice-President of the Council.  Moderated by Nick Ishmael Perkins, Director of SciDev.net, it featured three panellists:  Koichi Aiboshi, Assistant Vice-Minister for Global Issues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Joseph Enyimu, economist at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda; and Wardarina Thaib, Programme Officer from the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism, who also represented the major group for women.

The lead discussants were Izzet Ari, Head of Department, Environment and Sustainable Development at the Ministry of Development of Turkey; Olivier Brochenin, Director of the Development Policy Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France; Eili Lepik, adviser on sustainable development issues at the Strategy Unit, Government Office of Estonia; and Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, Chief Executive Officer of PURE Consulting.

Mr. PERKINS said the implementation of the 2030 Agenda was crucially dependent on the ability to integrate a global framework with national and subnational plans and programmes.  There were both synergies and trade-offs between the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, underlining the importance of coherence by stressing that “objectives have to match design and practice”.  The world had 15 years of experience with global development goals and there was an emerging attitude through which countries were asking themselves important questions.

Mr. KOICHI said that Japan had developed basic environmental laws and policies long before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  It had highlighted the concept of human security since the 1990s and had participated in international development cooperation efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Describing recent initial steps to tackle the 2030 Agenda, he said work was ongoing through 14 Government ministries guided by clear principles and objectives.  Japan was reaching out to various stakeholders through such initiatives as round tables with civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia, and it was raising awareness of sustainable development among the general public.  States could contextualize the diverse priorities of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that “no one size fits all”.

Mr. ENYIMU agreed that sustainable development was a “moving equilibrium” and that policies were context specific, amounting to a balancing act between competing interests.  The 2030 Agenda’s implementation would require mature institutions within countries, he said, calling for adequate policy space in that regard.  National ownership was crucial and would require that citizens believed they were heard.   Fiscal discipline was needed, as the various dimensions of sustainable development often came from the same source.  Uganda now had a mechanism to allow for the certification of sectoral plans to ensure their compliance with national development plans.  The international community must rally around country-led statistical development, he added, stressing the need to invest in data systems.  Finally, he underscored the importance of national sustainable financing strategies.

Ms. THAIB described promising efforts across the Asia-Pacific region in the early implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including Sri Lanka’s establishment of a committee inclusive of civil society to help to guide the implementation process.  However, there were also many warning signs that the agenda’s ambitions would be undermined, including failures to address systemic exclusion and to involve civil society in development planning.  Larger and more far-reaching trade treaties had been agreed upon, States were engaging in proxy wars and land-grabbing and there were increasing attacks on human rights defenders.  The major group for women had worked to combat inequality within and among countries and was determined to make the 2030 Agenda meaningful, she said, adding that civil society was obliged to advance development justice by addressing power imbalances and working to keep activists alive.

Mr. ARI said the success of the Sustainable Development Goals depended on the earliest implementation efforts of States and other stakeholders.  Following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in 1992, Turkey had integrated sustainable development in its national development plans, which featured a human-centred approach.  The 2030 Agenda should be considered an opportunity for all countries, he said, noting that his Government would integrate the Sustainable Development Goal targets into its work.  The National Sustainable Development Commission would work to bring together a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including the business community, as Turkey implemented the Goals.  Describing existing silos, bottlenecks and other challenges, he stressed Turkey’s commitment — as one of the 22 States engaged in a voluntary review process — to overcome them.

Ms. LEPIK said integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development would require strong impact assessments, such as the mechanism that had been adopted in Estonia.  The sustainable development process should also be made widely accessible through information and communications technology (ICT) and States should engage effective and inclusive coordination mechanisms that created ownership.  She recommended that countries build upon already existing and effective development efforts, stressing that “there is no need to reinvent the wheel” when solutions were available.

Mr. BROCHENIN shared France’s experiences in creating the ministerial structures necessary to implement the three dimensions of sustainable development.  Describing work taking place across France’s Finance Ministry, Foreign Ministry, International Development Ministry and other offices, he said implementation efforts relied heavily on forward-looking studies.  In addition, France was working to create new tools, such as revised wealth indicators.  Civil society was playing a major role through consultation forums, he added, noting that the sector was “blazing the trail” of sustainable development.

Ms. BRATSBERG said that while many countries had come far, there was still much work to do in implementation efforts.  Highlighting several key implementation issues in Norway, she stressed that “we need to begin by making the Sustainable Development Goals relevant and as close to our countries and people as possible”.  That included raising public awareness of the collective journey that was the 2030 Agenda.  Citing several statistics from the United Nations Global Compact, she said 87 per cent of the world’s business leaders believed that the Sustainable Development Goals were an essential opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainable value creation.  Businesses should be allowed to earn money while solving global challenges, she said.  

During the ensuing discussion, a number of speakers shared examples of efforts to mainstream the 2030 Agenda into national plans and programmes.

In that regard, the representative of China described the “ambitious blueprint” that was set to guide national implementation work.  That included an interministerial coordination mechanism aimed at taking an integrated and holistic approach, she said.

The representative of Sri Lanka described interministerial and interagency strategies and a partnership with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific that aimed at implementing Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation.

The representative of the European Union highlighted the bloc’s work in promoting the 2030 Agenda both internally and externally.  In particular, she said the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit were integrally linked with the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  As such, the European Union would take them into account throughout its policies and urge others to do the same.

The representative of Nigeria said national efforts were realigning its development policy with the new Goals.  However, the complexity of issues meant that “no one size fits all”.  To date, Nigeria had set up national institutions aimed at driving the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The panellists then made brief concluding remarks.

Mr. KOICHI, noting that he had not yet mentioned a time frame, said Japan was hoping to elaborate guiding principles for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within the next few months.

Mr. ENYIMU stressed that the 2030 Agenda was not a “beauty contest”, but a “pursuit of self-enlightened interest”.  Citizens were not looking to see how well written the agendas were, but were instead seeking results.

Ms. THAIB stressed the need for institutional change at the national level and reiterated the importance of the meaningful and effective participation of civil society.

Panel III

The Forum’s third panel, titled “Vertical cooperation – local authorities and national Governments working together for implementation of the 2030 Agenda”, was moderated by Peter Wollaert, fellow at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Managing Director at the United Nations Training and Research Centre for Smart Sustainability.  The keynote address was delivered by Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul and President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).  The panel featured Hyuk-Sang Sohn, professor at Kyung Hee University and President of the Korean Association of International Development and Cooperation, and Patrícia Iglecias, State Secretary for Environment for the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The lead discussants were:  Rosemarie G. Edillon, Deputy Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines; Paddy Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; and Stephan Contius, Head of Division at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany.

Mr. TOPBAŞ highlighted that local and subnational governments were at the forefront of tackling most of the issues addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals.  Such bodies had a fundamental role in ensuring the safety, security, livelihoods and well-being of communities.  National strategies to implement the development goals needed to take into account local policies to address the areas where vulnerable groups and poverty were concentrated.  Local and subnational governments were committed to contributing their experiences and initiatives, mobilizing their constituencies and strengthening a multi-stakeholder approach by engaging citizens in a bottom-up process for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In many cases, he said, policy development at the national, regional and global levels did not sufficiently take into account how such policies affected subnational levels where people lived and experienced global challenges.  An effective review and follow up of the implementation of the Goals should consider not only the contributions of each country, but also the specific needs of different cities and regions to avoid leaving anyone behind.  As the level of government closest to citizens and local stakeholders, it was fundamental to create and develop the necessary enabling environment to allow local and regional authorities to play their full role in achieving the Goals on the ground.

Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals should be seen as a political process and a technical one, which required recognizing and valuing the role of local leadership and encouraging local leaders to make the Sustainable Development Goals their own.  Local governments had a democratic mandate for accountability, which could be a powerful tool to drive the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The capacity of local and regional governments to galvanize policy change on the ground should also be considered in national Government reviews.  Such reviews should be open to reports and inputs produced at the subnational level, not only by local and subregional governments, but also by grassroots local communities, NGOs, think tanks, academia, media and others.

Mr. SOHN said civil society groups in the Republic of Korea had taken a leading role in establishing local-level multi-stakeholder organizations for the achievement of initiatives including Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development, the outcome document of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio.  There were more than 100 local councils on sustainable development across the country, while many localities had their own Agenda 21 action plans.  The national Government’s policy direction was critically linked to the local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Ms. IGLECIAS said Brazil was working on developing a national sustainable development strategy.  It was important to consider the different situations of various local and subnational governments and to adjust the Sustainable Development Goals to those distinct scenarios.  A fundamental lesson learned thus far was the importance of explaining to civil servants that the Goals were not something completely new, but rather a different perspective of what was already being done.  One of the most interesting aspects of the Goals was the way in which they were integrated.  For instance, she said, the Green Blue Municipality Programme in São Paulo was a voluntary programme through which local municipalities received technical expertise on how to include environmental issues in their public agendas.

Ms. EDILLON said that meeting the objective of leaving no one behind required extensive knowledge of whom exactly was being left behind and why.  The critical question that needed to be addressed was whether local governments had the political power and resources to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.  There was a need for national Governments to boost local resources.  It was of great importance to engage citizens during the planning process to create a constituency that was committed to development objectives.

Ms. TORSNEY said the Development Goals would require a transformative change in every single country around the world.  Citizens must be engaged and lessons learned needed to be taken into account.  It was important to recognize that in some countries there were multiple levels of subnational governments.  There needed to be more thought by leaders on the local level and stronger relationships built with those on the frontlines, including civil society.

Ms. CONTIUS said the transition to sustainable development needed to start where people lived and grew.  The contributions of regional, local and rural authorities were very important and in many countries, such actors had already shown great commitments to sustainable development, noting that the vast majority of German federal states already had their own sustainable development plans.  There were many existing programmes in Germany supported by the national climate initiative that had targeted municipalities, consumers and educational institutions.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Papua New Guinea said current national drivers of economic growth were not sustainable.  That reality had forced Papua New Guinea to conduct a comprehensive review, which had resulted in the launch of a national strategy for sustainable development in 2014.

The representative of Sweden said local self-governance was a fundamental feature of Swedish societies.  Municipalities and counties worked closely with the private sector, trade unions and civil society when providing services.  Effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda would require changes in policies, approaches and working methods.

A representative of the major group for persons with disabilities said that many disability-related commitments contained within the Sustainable Development Goals would need to be addressed by local authorities, despite the fact that adequate resources were not being channelled to the local level.

A representative of the major group for women and youth said the 2030 Agenda provided an ideal opportunity to bring sustainable development initiatives down to the grassroots level.

Also speaking today was the representative of Senegal.  Representatives of the major groups for ageing, indigenous people and NGOs also spoke.

Panel IV

The panel discussion on “Challenges in mobilizing means of implementation at the national level (financing, technology, capacity-building)” was chaired by Hector Alejandro Palma Cerna (Honduras), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council.  Macharia Kamau (Kenya), Co-Chair of the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum, presented a summary of the Forum’s work.

Moderated by Manuel Montes, Senior Adviser of Finance and Development at the South Centre, the panel featured Paulo Gadelha, President of Fundação Oswaldo Cruz and member of the 10-Member Group to support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, and Felipe Castro, Technical Secretary for the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Colombia.  The lead discussants were Mawussi Djossou Semondji, Expert Minister to the Presidency of Togo; Paul Gulleik Larsen, project manager in the United Nations Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway; Sun Chenyong, Counsellor at the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development at the Ministry of Science and Technology of China; and David O’Connor, Representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Mr. KAMAU presented a summary of the first Science, Technology and Innovation Forum, which was held on 6-7 June.  Also speaking on behalf of his fellow Co-Chair, Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State of the United States, he said science, technology and innovation could be both great levellers and great dividers.  That “two-edged sword” must be wielded very carefully, he warned.  The Forum had been attended by over 600 participants representing 81 countries and had included hundreds of scientists.  It had also served as a platform to share concrete action taken in science and technology to drive the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Describing some of the Forum’s recommendations, he said more attention should be paid to social science and the social context in which science, technology and innovation had been fostered and that science-technology policy coherence must be advanced at all levels to support greater innovations and the diffusion of knowledge.  Participatory science, technology and innovation activities were needed at the national and global levels to support Sustainable Development Goal outcomes, as were robust science advisory ecosystems and diverse multi-stakeholder collaborations and partnerships.  Calling in particular for inclusive, transformative technologies, he warned that there were countries, communities and pockets of people who were still being left behind. 

Moving forward, he said three bodies — the United Nations Inter-agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation — would be working together, and there should be a robust programme of intersessional activities addressing regional issues relevant to science, technology and innovation.

Mr. MONTES recalled that he had been part of the team that had written the report titled “The Great Green Transformation” in 2011.  While today the concept of sustainable development was much more ubiquitous, many questions remained.  In particular, he asked how the private sector could be compelled and seduced to innovate sustainably and what kind of international system was needed for that to happen.

Mr. GADELHA said science, technology and innovation should be seen as a driver of sustainable development.  However, that did not mean that they could solve sustainable development challenges alone.  Technology and innovation could come from many different sources, including open innovation and traditional knowledge.  Describing the situation of technology and innovation in Brazil, he said a national strategy had been implemented to foster innovation, in particular in the area of health.  Health was an individual and collective right and played a double role as both a prerequisite and an indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Zika virus and the phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance were two examples that demonstrated the need for better global science, technology and innovation coordination, he said.

Mr. CASTRO said that, regardless of a country’s level of development, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda required large amounts of resources and the mobilization of those funds was no simple matter.  As a middle-income country, Colombia suffered from disparities which had exacerbated those challenges.  There was a growing gap between developing countries and developed countries, which had greater resources to generate knowledge and technology.  Calling on the international community to bridge that gap, he said South-South cooperation was one tool that could contribute to technology sharing.  Colombia, which had just signed a historic peace agreement, was trying to bring technological know-how to rural populations, some of which had been cut off by fighting for decades.

Mr. SEMONDJI said a lengthy crisis in Togo had prompted development partners to suspend their funding, which had had an impact on advances in science, technology and innovation.  Today, Togo was aware of the need for domestic resource mobilization in order to reduce dependence on outside sources.  Public-private partnerships were helping to boost national development projects, such as multifunctional platforms for energy in remote areas.  “We need to draw a link between financing, science and technology and capacity-building,” he stressed, noting that Togo still had a number of projects on its agenda that it had still been unable to finance.

Mr. LARSEN said financing was crucial, but that it remained a major challenge.  While the primary responsibility remained with States, the international community must also scale up assistance and show solidarity with least developed countries, small island developing States and States in fragile and special situations.  “These are global goals as well as national goals,” he stressed, encouraging States to join Norway and other countries in contributing 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to official development assistance (ODA).  Partnerships would emerge as the best way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the years ahead, he said.

Mr. SUN said China was integrating a science, technology and innovation strategy into its national development plans.  It had created pilot zones for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and a Green Technology Bank, which was a multi-stakeholder initiative inclusive of civil society and other actors.  Among other things, he stressed that the international community should remove obstacles to technology transfers and better promote the sharing of success stories in order to enhance the capacity of developing countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. O’CONNOR said Member States had surprised themselves in their ambitions when signing on to the 2030 Agenda.  Today the world was moving in the right direction, but there remained pockets of neglect.  A “whole of government” approach, alongside a “whole of international community” approach, would be needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  Indeed, international cooperation must be deepened and strengthened, including in the realm of science, technology and innovation.  Among the major challenges was the development of innovative models that could reward the work of innovators while ensuring that technology was both accessible and affordable.  The world must avoid letting technology widen inequalities, he said, warning against a “winner-take-all economy”. 

During the ensuing dialogue, speakers from a range of States and stakeholder groups shared their experiences and stressed the need to accelerate science, technology and innovation that was truly inclusive and would leave no one behind.

The representative of South Africa said national sustainable development would depend on pursuing structural transformation through industrialization and on reversing current unsustainable pathways.  Among other things, South Africa was developing a national portal for sharing science, technology and innovation and was encouraging all innovators to register their technologies.

The representative of the Republic of Korea called for a new approach to helping countries around the world better harness the potential of science, technology and innovation.  To that end, her Government had launched the “Science, Technology and Innovation for a Better Life” initiative.

The representative of the group of workers and trade unionists underscored the need to address growing inequalities between and among countries, and called for the promotion of social dialogue and the right to collective assembly.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo underscored the importance of financing, noting that many external financing mechanisms required developing countries to meet restrictive conditions that exacerbated challenges and increased the number of people being left behind.

Also participating was the representative of Estonia, as well as those speaking on behalf of the major groups for women, persons with disabilities and children and youth.

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