UNESCO: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization



Science, Technology and Innovation Policy : Key to Sustainable Development

UNESCO hosted a Ministerial Roundtable (New York, 1st July 2008) at the ECOSOC High Level Segment

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy : Key to Sustainable Development
  • © UNESCO/S. Nair-bedouelle

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, hosting a Breakfast Round Table at the High Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on the theme: Science, Technology and Innovation Policy : Key to Sustainable Development.

The UNESCO Round Table debate focused on “Harnessing scientific knowledge through effective science policy as a key lever for achieving sustainable development in its Member States.” The ECOSOC Ambassador from Madagascar, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research from Egypt and the Minister of Communication, Science and Technology of Tanzania were invited speakers.

A lively debate ensued with interactive participation from all stakeholders, who recognized the pivotal role that effective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy could play in contributing to the effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically in relation to the eradication of poverty. The meeting was attended by over 50 representatives from diplomatic missions, research institutions, NGOs, civil society, the media and the private sector.

UNESCO’s role:

UNESCO cooperates with Member States in the formulation of STI policies based on credible information through the collection and use of STI data (statistics and indicators), with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). This involves building of national statistical capacity; training of national personnel, and provision of advice and support to in-country statistical activities.

Focus on Africa: Guided by internationally agreed development goals, including the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the Organization is focusing on the needs of Africa – reflected in the Decisions and the Declaration on Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2007. UNESCO acts as the Convener of the UN Science and Technology Cluster (13 UN Agencies) in support of the African Union Consolidated Plan of Action for science and technology in Africa. UNESCO was recently nominated to the Steering Committee of the African Ministerial Council for Science and Technology (AMCOST). UNESCO is currently assisting more than 14 African Member States to review, develop and implement their national STI strategies.



UNESCO is also providing policy advice to a number of countries in Asia, South-East Europe and the Caribbean. UNESCO’s contribution to sustainable development takes into consideration the interrelationship and interaction between scientific and indigenous knowledge systems as an issue of major importance with respect to natural resource access, utilization, conservation and benefits-sharing.

UNESCO’s comparative advantage lies in the interdisciplinary nature of its programmes:

  • Capacity-building, through the integration of research and education is a main feature of such a strategic interface.
  • Special attention is being given to empowering women through access to science and technology information, attracting youth to scientific careers and promoting young researchers. 
  • Programmes reflect and communicate cutting-edge science, including new scientific paradigms, such as socioecological resilience and adaptive management of the environment, while also taking into account local and indigenous knowledge.
  • Particular attention is also paid to implementing the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) through technology transfer, capacity-building and human resource development.


International Scientific Cooperation for Sustainable Development is an imperative. Several global-scale issues have been identified for discussion and action at UNESCO, in particular climate change, water resources, renewable energies and natural hazards, that call for global scientific partnerships that encourage access to research data from public funding.

::  Mr M El Tayeb, Director, Division for Science Policies and Sustainable Development  


Related links:
::  UNESCO's Director-General in ECOSOC
::  UNESCO's Science Policy website More
::  Institute for Statistics (UIS)
::  Science, Technology and Innovation Policy: key to sustainable development [.pdf]
::  ECOSOC website More
::  Geographic entries of the Natural Sciences Sector More

  • Source:UNESCO SC
  • 08-07-2008
  • © UNESCO/S. Nair-bedouelle - 
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