The UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development recently held its 25th session – a debate to discuss how science and technology can boost Covid-19 recovery – at the end of March 2022.

The commission is a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN focal point for science, technology and innovation for development.

It acts as a forum for strategic planning, sharing lessons learned and best practices, providing foresight about critical trends in science, technology and innovation in key sectors of the economy, the environment and society, and drawing attention to emerging and disruptive technologies.

These recent sessions focussed on the themes of “Industry 4.0 for inclusive development” and “Science, technology and innovation for sustainable urban development in a post-pandemic world”.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan led a high-level roundtable discussion on science, technology and innovation policies, solutions and research priorities relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals. The discussion happened on UN Web TV on 28 March.

Ms Grynspan said, “We need to make changes in international relations in science, technology and innovation so that developing countries can benefit from technology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”

She added: “Developing countries need more opportunities to participate in international research networks, increased funding for research and more support for technology upgrading and transfer, particularly in support of post-COVID-19 recovery efforts.”

The commission also reviewed the progress made in the implementation of and follow up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels and hear presentations on ongoing science, technology and innovation policy reviews by UNCTAD.

New and emerging technologies represent a $350 billion market, which by 2025 could grow to over $3.2 trillion, according to UNCTAD’s groundbreaking Technology and Innovation Report 2021, which outlines how developing countries can benefit from the current technological revolution to reduce gaps that hold back inclusive and sustainable development.

“Industry 4.0 makes it crucial for developing countries to push for diversification and increasing manufacturing competency,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.

“To ensure that they do not miss this wave of technological change, countries need to mobilise investment in digital infrastructure, build workforce skills, develop ethical frameworks and guidelines for industry 4.0 technologies and international exchange of knowledge and experiences,” she added.