G77 issues call for more equality in global STI landscape

The Group of 77 developing countries (G77) has called on the international community to foster an open, fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for science, technology and innovation (STI) development to accelerate progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has declared 16 September the ‘Day of Science, Technology and Innovation in the South’.

The call emerged from a declaration approved at the G77+China summit held under the theme “Current Development Challenges: The role of science, technology and innovation” in Havana, Cuba, from 15 to 16 September, two days ahead of the United Nations SDG Summit held in New York, United States.

The Group of 77 is the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the United Nations and provides a means for countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues.

“We note with concern that at the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world, particularly the developing countries, are still far off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” the declaration notes.

“We stress the important role of science, technology and innovation as pillars, enablers and catalysts to support sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth, accelerating the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda,” it goes on to state.

The declaration stresses that strategic STI deployment has the potential to resolve and minimise trade-offs among the goals and targets, and recognises that technology transfer to developing countries will be critical to scale up and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The declaration highlights the contribution of science to “the creation of innovative technologies and solutions to move towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns”.

Academic and research linkages

“In that context, we call for the provision of the necessary means of implementation to developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacities.

“We further note the need to raise awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in accordance with the commitments contained in the 2030 Agenda … In this regard, we will endeavour to further promote close linkages and partnerships between policy makers, academia, research centres and the private sector, as appropriate,” it states.

The declaration stresses the contribution of science, technology and innovation to industrial development in developing countries and as a “critical source” of economic growth, economic diversification and value addition.

The declaration calls for “the promotion of new research, the development and transfer of the necessary technologies, and access to the existing ones, including in the areas of food and nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and energy, in order to contribute to the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, and the achievement of sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, human wellbeing and sustainable development”.

The declaration rejects the “imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions against developing countries”, which “severely impedes the advancement of science, technology and innovation and the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries”.

Furthermore, it rejects “technological monopolies and other unfair practices” that hinder technological development in developing countries.

“States which have monopoly and dominance in the Information and Communication Technologies environment, including Internet, should not use Information and Communication Technologies advances as tools for containment and suppression of the legitimate economic and technological development of other States,” it states.

“We call upon the international community to foster an open, fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for scientific and technological development,” it states.

The declaration stresses “the cross-cutting contributions” of information and communications technology to the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the eradication of poverty and notes that access to information and communications technologies has also become a development indicator and aspiration in and of itself.

Digital inclusion

“We call for the advancement of digital inclusion, as well as the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and to strengthen their full, equal and meaningful access and participation in these fields,” it states.

“We call upon the international community and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to take urgent action aimed at reducing digital divides and inequalities in data generation, infrastructure and accessibility within and among countries and regions, as well as between developed and developing countries, with special attention to the poorest and most vulnerable among them,” it notes.

“We urge the creation of the necessary conditions to provide developing countries with affordable and reliable connectivity, aimed, inter alia, at promoting digital access and inclusion, including for people in remote and rural communities, as well as to ensure ethical, reliable, and more equitable development, access and use of artificial intelligence,” it states.

“No restrictions should be imposed on developing countries’ access to Information and Communication Technologies’ materials, equipment and technology in order to maintain sustainable development,” it notes.

The group reaffirmed its commitment to open and equitable scientific collaboration and expressed its willingness to support the expansion of open-science models, at all levels, to ensure citizens’ access to research results and scientific information.

The declaration also calls for more investment in STI and to implement initiatives for the development of human resources in these fields as well as developing strategies aimed at confronting the brain drain of specialised human resources trained in the countries of the South along with promoting young people’s interest in scientific studies, including the educational sphere.

South-South cooperation

The group agreed to continue working on the development of science and technology in developing countries “by strengthening South-South cooperation, which is necessary to optimise our potential and complement our resources and expertise, while offering viable pathways to address common challenges among developing countries and to, inter alia, accelerate progress in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

“We encourage discussions on the possibilities of establishing new platforms for South-South cooperation and exchanges on science, technology and innovation,” it states.

The declaration calls upon international donor organisations to make additional efforts to support developing countries in strengthening institutional frameworks and public policies related to science, technology and innovation.

“We agree to declare 16 September as the ‘Day of Science, Technology and Innovation in the South’,” it concludes.