The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in partnership with the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, hosted the inaugural Asia‐Pacific Innovation Forum in Tehran, with global and regional leaders calling for inclusive and collaborative approaches to technology that leave no one behind.
In her opening statement, UN Under‐Secretary‐General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, highlighted that although technology has been heralded as a key means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the Fourth Industrial Revolution evolves, the wave of optimism surrounding the transformative potential of technology has been tempered by concerns about potential negative impacts such as widening technological inequality. “While the Asia‐Pacific region is home to some of the most innovative countries in the world, it is also home to some of the most technologically deprived. It will be critical for countries to work together so that no one is left behind” said Ms. Alisjahbana.
The Forum emphasized the importance of science, technology and innovation (STI) and its key role as the most transformative means of implementing the SDGs; called on the United Nations and other international, regional and subregional organizations to provide technical assistance and capacity building to support regional development needs and priorities; affirmed that technology and innovation should be inclusive in terms of engaging women and grassroots innovators, while ensuring that technology and innovation benefit the very poorest especially in the least developed countries; and highlighted the critical role of North-South, South-South and triangular, regional and international cooperation on technology and innovation so that no one is left behind.
The Forum reaffirmed the importance of strengthening multilateralism and developing friendly relations among member States in the Asia-Pacific region including through cooperation and partnership in the areas of STI.
The Forum also stressed the challenges developing and least developed countries face including poverty, inequality, capacity-building constraints, and the lack of adequate and enabling technology infrastructure; and encouraged member States to deal effectively with emerging issues and uncertainties to promote enhanced cooperation in the area of STI to meet their sustainable development policies and priorities.
The Forum stressed the importance of national sustainable development planning processes, policies and strategies, and the need for an enabling international environment, and stressed that further support is needed from developed countries especially regarding technology development and transfer, capacity building and financing.
The Forum also emphasized the important role of technology start‐ups for sustainable development and encouraged leaders to support in harnessing their development. In his opening statement, Dr. Sorena Sattari, Vice‐President for Science & Technology, Islamic Republic of Iran highlighted the challenges of the region specially the lack of adequate infrastructure and the need for an enabling international environment to support national policies and development strategies through STI. He also stressed that further support is needed from developed countries and the UN system especially regarding technology development and transfer, capacity building and financing; to implement Iran’s UN Development Assistance Framework.
Dr. Sattari also emphasized the preparedness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work with regional countries through ESCAP to create an enabling environment for technology and innovation cooperation at the regional level including through implementing policies to promote technology start‐ups, financing and investing in technology development, and developing supporting infrastructure such as technology parks and incubators.
In this regard, the Asia‐Pacific Start‐up Network was launched at the Forum. Also launched at the Forum was an ESCAP report titled “Establishing Science and Technology Parks: A Reference Guidebook for Policymakers in Asia and the Pacific”. The report analyses the evolution of science and technology parks in the region and serves as a reference for policymakers developing such parks.