The first United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) opened in Bangkok today, with a focus on how best to use these powerful tools to achieve the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“We are at an exciting phase of transition in the Asia-Pacific region,” underscored United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her opening remarks.
“As the world embarks on its journey towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, scientific breakthroughs, technological advances and innovative ideas continue at a rapid pace – many of these breakthroughs occurring in this region. Although the Asia-Pacific region has some of the most innovative and technologically advanced economies in the world, it is also home to some of the most technologically deprived. The role of ICT and STI as an engine of economic growth and a valuable source of innovation is irrefutable but contingent on how South-South collaboration can harness ICT and STI advances for the poor,” she added.
Inaugurating the session, H.E. Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Thailand underscored the importance of a progressive ICT and STI agenda.
“Let us take my government’s ‘Thailand 4.0’ model as an example to create an innovation-driven society, for the country to overcome the middle-income trap,” said Mr. Juntong.”Here ICT and STI serves as an engine of economic growth and sustainable development,” he added.
The inaugural ESCAP Committee on ICT and STI aims to address these challenges, by presenting a unique opportunity to create a truly regional and integrated STI platform to share knowledge on the diversity and dynamism of STI across Asia and the Pacific and spur collective action.
Over the next three days, the Committee will deliberate on how best to collaborate with the diverse ‘innovation for development ‘landscape, foster deeper STI cooperation between the sub-regions, and exploit the synergies between digital technology, science and innovation. Without ICT capabilities and STI collaboration, the potential to ensure that no one is left behind in the innovation and technology revolution may remain far-fetched.