UNESCO calls upon stakeholders to expand programme developing roadmaps to harness science to the Sustainable Development Goals

The head of UNESCO’s Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Section, Ezra Clark, has encouraged all stakeholders to join the “Partnership in Action” initiative to expand the STI for the SDGs Roadmap Programme. He made this appeal in his presentation on 6 May to a session dedicated to this programme at the annual Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum taking place in New York.

The STI for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Roadmap Programme was launched in July 2019 during the High Level Political Forum held in New York. The initial five pilot countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya and Serbia) were joined by Ukraine in February 2021. This Global Pilot Programme is co-led by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Government of Japan. The programme is currently being scaled up to reach out to more countries and stakeholders.

Ghana’s roadmap was finalized in April 2021. In New York, Dr. Wilhelmina Quaye, Director of the CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute in Ghana, thanked UNESCO and the Swedish government for their support in implementing Ghana’s STI for the SDGs roadmap. UNESCO’s support had enabled Ghana to refocus its STI policy on the implementation of the SDGs, she said. Thanks to financial support from the Swedish International Development Agency, UNESCO has now extended its support to the roadmap’s implementation phase.

UNESCO has also contributed to the development of Kenya’s STI for the SDGs Roadmap roadmap. In New York, Prof. Tom Peter Migun Ogada, Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya, echoed Dr. Quaye’s sentiments with regard to the development of Kenya’s own roadmap.

STI roadmaps and capacity-building

Regional training workshops in STI policy reach more than 70 countries

The discussions during the session dedicated to the STI for the SDGs Roadmap Programme encompassed a review of past achievements of the United Nations’ Technology Facilitation Mechanism, including the work of the Interagency Task Team on STI for the SDGs (IATT), in which UNESCO plays an active role.

UNESCO is also part of the IATT Workstream on Capacity Building (WS6). Dr Clark explained that, together with the United Nations Conference on Trade for Development (UNCTAD), UNESCO had co-ordinated a series of regional training workshops on STI policy since 2018, which had trained over 500 officials from more than 70 countries.

Other members of the IATT Workstream on Capacity-building include the United Nations Industrial Development Organizatio, the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, United Nations Environment Programme, World Intellectual Property Organization, United Nations Regional Economic Commissions and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Ghana and Cambodia recall UNESCO support in STI

Countries acknowledged UNESCO’s support in the field of STI during the ministerial session in New York. For instance, Dr Kwaku Afryie, the Hon. Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana, recounted Ghana’s efforts to implement the 2017 UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.

His Excellency Mr Prasidh Cham, Senior Minister of the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, also expressed his appreciation for UNESCO’s project mapping research and innovation in Cambodia, based on the GO-SPIN methodology. He also commended the United Nations more widely for pursuing its work in Cambodia regardless of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.