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ESCAP 72 Considers STI for Sustainable Development

19 May 2016: During the 72nd session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), participants discussed ways to harness science, technology and innovation (STI) for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP adopted 12 resolutions and launched a report on harnessing STI for inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Resolutions adopted by the Commission cover, among other areas: strengthening regional cooperation for transport connectivity; promoting conservation and sustainable use of the oceans seas and marine resources; combatting sand and dust storms; fostering regional cooperation and partnerships to respond to climate change challenges; advancing disaster related statistics for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); committing to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda; harnessing science technology and innovation for sustainable development; and the framework agreement on facilitation of cross-border paperless trade in Asia and the Pacific.

Over 430 participants from 48 Member States and Associate Members attended the session, which took place from 15-19 May 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand. ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar highlighted the crucial role of regional cooperation and connectivity, and called for deploying the right mix of policies and incentives and for tackling all types and sources of inequality, for “smart development.” Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, who chaired the session, highlighted the challenges of implementing commitments made in the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and the Paris agreement on climate change, and noted that ESCAP has a very important role to play in this regard.

An ESCAP report, titled ‘Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific,’ was launched on 18 May. It notes that the region’s share of world expenditure on research and development (R&D) rose from 36% in 2007 to 44% in 2013, with a total of US$643 billion spent in 2013 on R&D. Among its recommendations, the report says visionary leadership for STI should be an integral component of SDG strategies. For instance, all line ministries should institutionalize regular reporting on STI indicators and monitoring of STI policy.

Other actions in this regard could be: leveraging educational technologies and distance learning for STI; committing to funding and incentivizing investment in STI; creating a critical mass of high-quality STI professionals and “progressively increasing to 2,500 highly qualified professionals” involved in research and development per million people; and enabling open and inclusive innovative knowledge economies by establishing a regional platform for government officials, scientists, technologists, innovators and investors to collaborate on STI for inclusive and sustainable development. [Meeting Webpage] [ESCAP 72 Daily Roundup] [ESCAP Press Release, 18 May] [ESCAP Press Release, 17 May] [UN Press Release] [ESCAP Publication: Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific]