Speech at the 2013 ECOSOC High Level Segment

Speech by Hon. Sujata Koirala, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Central Working Committee of the  Nepali Congress Party and Chief of the International Relations Department, at the 2013 High Level Segment of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on the 'role of science, technology and innovation in promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)'  on July 3, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.  

Mr./Madam President,

I welcome this opportunity to share some thoughts on the theme of the 2013 high-level segment- of the Economic and Social Council on 'the role of science, technology and innovation in promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)' - which is pertinent and timely.  

Mr. /Madam  President
As we deliberate in this room, there are debates going on about the realization of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), fast approaching deadlines for MDGs, eradicating poverty and pursuing sustainable development around the globe. The widening program-resource gaps, a series of crises including global food crisis, energy crisis, ongoing impacts of financial and economic crisis, and fast degrading environment have severely undermined our efforts towards the realization of MDGs including the attainment of internationally agreed development goals and sustainable development.  These are formidable challenges posing threats to economic and social development and the political and social stability in various parts of the world, and severely testing states’ ability to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of people in this increasingly interdependent and interconnected world.

Mr/Madam President,
The United Nations produced MDGs and provided a shared vision on development.  The MDGs acknowledge the need for a global partnership for development.  However, the present patterns and rules of aid and trade continue to obstruct our collective march towards living up to the pledges and promises made to the people.  But there is also hope in science and technology emerging as a driving force for promoting innovation, fostering global partnership, ensuring access to knowledge, increasing efficiency and productivity, eradicating poverty, creating decent jobs, mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable development towards realizing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr. /Madam President,
Modernization at any cost is causing irreparable damage to ecological system. Growing inequality and pervasive poverty stand as the greatest threats to sustainable development. We need to adopt strategies that promote balanced and decentralized patterns of urban development, and avoid excessive pressure on scarce natural resources and prevent their overexploitation.
It is my firm belief that the human dignity and worth of human life must not be undermined under any circumstances.   As challenges deal a severe blow to our fight against poverty, hunger, inequality, marginalization, as well as degradation of environment, we call for commitment and solidarity to establish a more fair, balanced and equitable international global architecture to ensure the sustainable flow of appropriate technology.

It is time that we use the potentials provided by science, technology, and innovation and work to promote sustainable development and put in place essential elements of the post-2015 development agenda. It is important that government give due priority to research communities, the private sector, and civil society to create a bank of knowledge. It is time to promote collective cooperation to build capacities in science, technology and innovation for successfully addressing complex development challenges.

Mr. /Madam President,
The World Summit Outcome 2005 emphasized on the importance of access to and development, transfer and diffusion of technologies to developing countries as well as supporting greater efforts to develop renewable technologies to developing countries. This needs to be sincerely followed and implemented.

We call for a technology facilitation mechanism for research and innovation and capacity building. This should better help strengthening the three dimensions of sustainable development namely economic, social development and environmental sustainability. There is need for internalization of research and development in developing countries and least developed countries in particular to help bridge technology gaps. Poor countries have no resources to commit to research and development. They need to be assisted in order to put in place the capacity-building mechanisms for technology adaptation and sustainable development.

We need to strengthen multi stakeholder collaboration and partnerships.  Quality education is a must to promote innovation. Governments need to earmark substantial resources to promote culture of innovation. It is necessary to intensify the use of science and technology to support the knowledge based society to promote linkages between development and innovations.

Concerning the role of women:
In the areas I have mentioned women have an important role to play, since they bring with them a different perspective of looking at things.

It will be important in the future to incorporate and value more the contributions women can provide to society, since in the areas of cooperation, sharing and collaboration women can play a major role.
It is therefore necessary that we realize that by providing equal opportunities to everyone we have a better chance of overcoming difficulties and provide solutions to problems we are facing today;

Difficulties which show a need for more respect, cooperation and a more equitable sharing of resources and technologies amongst the nations and peoples of the world; and solutions, which may require a change in mindset and approach towards new areas of development and innovation necessary for the wellbeing of future generations...  

Mr. /Madam President,
In 2006, we had a historic democratic change in Nepal led by my father the late Girija Prasad Koirala. He freed the country from violence and fear, brought underground-armed Maoist rebels to peaceful democratic politics, and provided the leadership in successful transition from autocratic monarchy to democratic republic.    He set the country on the path of inclusive democracy and social justice. He put the people at the centre of the process, which is a precondition for the success of any development initiative.

Nepal encourages the maximum participation of women in national development.  We  have introduced universal free maternity care at public facilities which have registered  significant improvement in the areas of health related MDGs. However, the  achievements made in health sector stand vulnerable  to all varieties of transnational challenges including climate change, health pandemics, energy and security, poverty and inequality.

Nepal has great potentials in the development of its resources, like Traditional and Cultural Knowledge, and Biodiversity.
We are committed to develop these resources to serve our people, but we lack technical and financial resources.  This requires legal, policy and institutional frameworks.

The development of Small and Medium Enterprises {SMEs} engages a great number of people in Nepal. A slight improvement in the given technology could be of great help to the people for improving the quality of life for their families.  
The Interim Constitution duly gives priority to the development of science and technology with a view to bring about prosperity in the country. We welcome foreign capital and appropriate technology for development.

Nepal's rivers are its powerhouses. However, this precious resource remains unutilized. Water is a green and renewable energy. Its development can be of great contribution to the process of sustainable development as it helps maintain a careful balance between economy, environment, and equity.

Nepal has launched a community forestry program, which is a participatory environmental governance program, aimed at forest conservation and poverty reduction. It has proved to be innovative as it promotes multi-stakeholders collaborative approaches to benefit the marginalized groups, create a sense of ownership and build leadership to promote sustainable development.
At a time when the people of Nepal remain engaged in the post conflict reconstruction and recovery on multiple fronts, our vulnerability remains further exposed as a good portion of our efforts are subject to external resources.  As we prepare for the second Constituent Assembly election later this year to overcome the protracted transition, and institutionalise the parliamentary system of democracy, we urge our friends and well-wishers in the international community to enhance their support to Nepal.

Last but not the least; Mr. /Madam President,  
I would like to see the use of science and technology for the betterment of humanity.  Science and technology can facilitate innovations and development of human resources for sustained growth and development.  It can help fight challenges on economic, social and environmental fronts including pollution, degradation of environment, desertification, climate change, and epidemic of infectious diseases.

This brings to my mind the grave damages caused by heavy rains in South Asia last month. In Nepal alone, hundreds of people lost their lives and property and infrastructures were washed away by flash floods and landslides.
I feel we have to come together to minimize the losses from natural calamities including floods or earthquakes.  
We would like the United Nations system particularly the ECOSOC to act as a 'thought leader' in all these processes. ECOSOC with its universal outreach can contribute to ensure balanced and coherent integration of sustainable development.

Thank you.