UN Economic and Social Council Opens Multi-Stakeholder Forum amid Calls for Vaccine Equity, Efforts to Close Yawning Digital Gulf between Haves, Have-Nots
5 May 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic and emergence of variant viral strains underscore the importance of science, technology and innovation for the recovery and development of global populations, speakers said today as the Economic and Social Council opened its two-day forum on the topic amid calls to urgently address the widening digital gulf between developed and developing countries.
Opening the forum, Collen Vixen Kelapile (Botswana), President of the Economic and Social Council, stressed that science, technology and innovation can be a source of awe — but also fear. This year’s seventh Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals aims to alleviate fear, and instead harness that power for sustainable development. Noting a plethora of images in the media of the world’s natural disasters, famine, war and societal divides, he said it is particularly easy for young people to feel powerless.
Citing the fear of vaccines and frustration with the perceived unreliability of science, he noted the need to build trust in research, with Governments showing that they are listening to their citizens and addressing issues such as misinformation, potential and limits of artificial intelligence, and questions regarding privacy and access to data.
“We need to ensure checks and balances and consider suitable governance mechanisms around these issues,” he stressed. It is also crucial to increase the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as historically, they make up only about a third of that workforce. “Every girl around the world should be able to find a suitable role model in these fields, whether she be a local schoolteacher or a Nobel laureate,” he said…