Asia-Pacific Governments Discuss Science and Technology for Innovation
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The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held a training for government officials and non-profit professionals in possibilities for using new technologies such as AI to drive sustainable development.

In conjunction with the workshop, ESCAP launched a report on the experiences of four Asia-Pacific countries - China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Singapore – in using STI policies to drive sustainable development.

18 March 2019: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is training government officials and non-profit professionals in possibilities for using new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric recognition to drive sustainable development. In a four-day workshop in Sejong, Republic of Korea, participants from ten Asia-Pacific countries discussed the influence of emerging, “frontier” technologies on the changing nature of work, and the possibilities for governments themselves to use such technologies to address societal challenges.

The ESCAP workshop on ‘STI Policies for Sustainable Development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ took place from 18-22 March 2019, and was organized in partnership with the Republic of Korea’s research institute, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), and the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on STI (ARTNet). The workshop highlighted the potential for governments to use frontier technologies in their own service delivery and to promote citizen engagement.

SDG 9 on infrastructure, industrialization and innovation contains several targets relevant to STI policy development, including target 9.5 on enhancing scientific research, upgrading the technological capabilities of industrial sectors, and encouraging innovation. In addition, a sub-set of SDG 17 focuses on technology, with targets on cooperation for STI, technology transfer, and a technology bank and STI capacity-building mechanism for the least developed countries.

In conjunction with the workshop, ESCAP launched a report on the experiences of four Asia-Pacific countries – China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Singapore – in using STI policies to drive sustainable development. The report titled, ‘Evolution of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies for Sustainable Development: The Experiences of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore,’ which was published in January 2019, provides a comparative analysis of STI policies from pre-industrial to modern times in these four countries. The report describes how STI policies initially sought to promote economic growth, and now are evolving to integrate social and environmental concerns. The authors note that, while “innovation” is often considered to be the role of the private sector, governments can also be innovative in using technology to improve existing services, create new public services, and develop new forms of governance that address specific societal challenges.

The report proposes several topics for further discussion among Asia-Pacific countries: mainstreaming the SDGs into STI policies to promote sustainability and inclusive societies; managing the benefits from the greater access to data vis-à-vis threats to individual privacy; dealing with cybersecurity concerns; and building a roadmap for STI policies to support the SDGs.

The Group of 20 (G20) under Japan’s presidency in 2019 will also aim to develop an “STI for SDGs Roadmap,” as an outcome of the Osaka Summit. The roadmap would provide a shared communication tool regarding what must be done, by when, and by whom. [ESCAP Press Release]

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