The pace, problems, and promises offered by rapid technological change is the central discussion point for ministerial representatives meeting at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva from 13 to 17 May to explore the benefits of science and technology for sustainable development.
They will be joined by eminent scientists, leading innovators, and technology thinkers for the 22nd annual session of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) at the Palais des Nations.
They will discuss the sustainable development implications of science, technology and innovation (STI), including information communication technologies, at a time when rapid technological change offers unprecedented opportunities to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The CSTD has renewed significance at a time when innovation needs to be harnessed to manage the world’s most challenging problems, including climate change.
Yet this potential comes with a caveat.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted in his 2018 report to the CSTD that frontier technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to transform the practice, implementation and monitoring of sustainable development.
However, the report observed, these technologies also pose profound questions regarding how legal, social, ethical and cultural norms could be affected in various aspects.
These aspects range from the integrity of human life to the safety of the natural environment and from the respect for personal privacy, security and safety to the prevention of any form of discrimination.
This premise forms the backbone of all CSTD discussions.