Countries Discuss Operationalizing TFM
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UN Member States exchanged views on the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) mandated by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), during a briefing with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Delegates expressed concern about a lack of funding for the TFM, highlighted the role of the private sector, and underscored the needs of countries in special situations.

un_logo5 February 2016: UN Member States exchanged views on the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) mandated by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) during a briefing with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Delegates expressed concern about a lack of funding for the TFM, highlighted the role of the private sector, and underscored the needs of countries in special situations.

Opening the briefing on 5 February 2016, in New York, US, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Mogens Lykketoft said the TFM can become a great example of using the UN’s legitimacy and global convening power to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local level.

Wu Hogobo, DESA, updated Member States regarding progress made on the three elements of the TFM: the UN Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on science, technology and innovation (STI) for the SDGs, which works with ten representatives of civil society and the private sector; the multi-stakeholder forum on STI (STI Forum); and the online platform to facilitate the matching of technology supply and demand.

Wu said the IATT: is currently comprised of 29 UN agencies; is co-chaired by DESA and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), and the chair-ship will rotate among members every two years; has met three times so far; and has adopted its terms of reference and decided to meet monthly. As for the ten representatives of civil society and the private sector, which will support the IATT, an introductory meeting took place virtually on 2 February, and it will have the first face-to-face meeting with the IATT in New York, US, from 3-4 March 2016, to discuss preparations for the first STI Forum.

On the STI Forum, Wu announced that it will take place from 6-7 June 2016. He said the Forum will be transparent and inclusive, and that the concerns of vulnerable groups of countries will be taken into consideration in making the arrangements. The Forum’s co-chairs are still to be appointed, and the IATT is developing a concept note for the Forum.

On the online platform, Wu said it will provide a comprehensive mapping of existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programmes, both within and beyond the UN. He said the platform will be based on an independent technical assessment, to be conducted in an inclusive manner through consultations with Member States, civil society, and the private sector. He noted that an initial mapping indicates that there are over 70 UN TFM initiatives. He said DESA is seeking a firm to carry out the independent assessment on a pro bono basis, due to the lack of dedicated resources for this activity. He invited delegations to help in identifying experts to lead the assessment.

Explaining the lack of financial resources, Wu said the Secretariat applied for resources to the UNGA’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and received about half of the amount requested. He said the Secretariat will use the resources for the online platform, the STI Forum, and the IATT, as well as to support other mandates given by the 2030 Agenda and the AAAA.

In the ensuing discussion, Benin stressed the need to implement the conclusions of the High-Level Panel on the technology bank for the least developed countries (LDCs), while Belize called for the STI Forum to consider the needs of small island developing States (SIDS). Benin, France and Kenya underlined the importance of the TFM in accelerating the development of the LDCs for achieving the SDGs. Ecuador and India said the TFM is a “positive” and universal agenda, not one that belongs to a particular group of countries or to certain objectives.

Kenya stressed that the lack of funding for the TFM represents an “unfortunate start.” He called for: the Secretariat and Member States to ensure that the key elements will be funded at least at the seed level, cautioning that they cannot be left for “the charity of the private sector;” and the UN Secretary-General to consider the matter so DESA could return to the Fifth Committee for additional funding. India echoed the hope of finding necessary resources. The EU called on the IATT to use existing resources and build on processes already underway.

Discussing the inaugural STI Forum in June, India expressed hope that all Member States could participate in a “meaningful” way, while the EU, France, and the US stressed that it must involve the private sector and be “action-oriented,” with technology specialists as the main actors. The EU further inquired what actions are currently being deployed to engage the private sector in the work of the IATT.

The TFM was mandated in the AAAA as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustianable Development, and officially launched at UN Headquarters on 26 September 2015. [TFM Website] [Meeting Webcast] [IISD RS Sources] [IISD RS Coverage of TFM Operationalization] [First Meeting of 10-Member Group]

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