15 May 2024
STI Forum Explores AI’s Potential to Support SDGs, Climate Action
Photo by Markus Spiske
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During a ministerial session, speakers acknowledged the need for international as well as national efforts to harness STI to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The STI Forum featured seven thematic sessions.

A showcase of innovations for SDGs 1, 2, 13, 16, and 17 was also held.

President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Paula Narváez Ojeda convened the ninth annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum). Among other issues, participants focused on the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to address climate change and its contributions to achieving the SDGs.

Christina Markus Lassen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, and Inga Rhonda King, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the UN, co-chaired the Forum. The STI Forum focused on the theme, ‘Science, technology and innovation for reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: The effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions,’ which is closely aligned with that of the 2024 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

In opening remarks, Narváez Ojeda highlighted the Forum’s critical contribution to HLPF 2024 in addressing how STI can drive implementation of the five Goals under review – SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). She identified the Pact for the Future and the Global Digital Compact, which the September Summit of the Future (SoF) is expected to adopt, as significant opportunities to leverage STI for a sustainable future.

UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Dennis Francis said “our collective commitment to bridge the divides in science, technology, and innovation,” reinforced at the SDG Summit in 2023, “must now be transformed into tangible actions – that drive sustainable development and build much-needed capacities for impactful and long-lasting change.” Francis urged participants to use the STI Forum and the HLPF in July “as steppingstones to leapfrog our sustainable development ambitions towards 2030.”

During a ministerial session, speakers acknowledged the need for international as well as national efforts to harness STI to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They underscored the importance of collective efforts to build a “digital world” that is “universally accessible, advances peace and security and improves lives,” and outlined national efforts and priorities in this regard, including those involving AI.

The STI Forum featured seven thematic sessions that focused on:

  • More and more effective funding and capacity for SDG-related research and innovation in all regions (SDG 17);
  • Strengthening scientific cooperation, technology, and knowledge sharing and accelerating innovation for integrated climate action (SDG 13);
  • Bridging the STI divides to eradicate poverty and end hunger (SDGs 1 and 2);
  • Building ecosystems for STI to drive economic growth and sustainable development in small island developing States (SIDS);
  • Harnessing the power of digital innovation for sustainable peace and resilience in the context of climate change (SDG 16);
  • Advancing sustainable development with women-centered science and technology solutions; and
  • STI partnerships for accelerating structural transformation in African countries, least developed countries (LDCs), and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs).

Discussions during each of the thematic sessions were supported by a series of science-policy briefs and case studies. A showcase of innovations for SDGs 1, 2, 13, 16, and 17 was also held.

The co-chairs’ summary of discussions is expected to support deliberations at HLPF 2024 and the Summit of the Future.

Organized by the UN interagency task team on STI for the SDGs (IATT), the ninth STI Forum was convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN 10-Member-Group of High-level Representatives of Civil Society, Private Sector and Scientific Community to support the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The STI Forum took place in New York, US, from 9-10 May 2024. Ahead of the Forum, on 7 May, ECOSOC held a special meeting on harnessing AI for the SDGs. [Ninth STI Forum] [Meetings Coverage: STI Forum, 9 May]

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