Science, technology and innovation could be the magic bullet for countries to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Minister Elioda Tumwesigye has said.
Dr Tumwesigye, who heads Uganda’s science and technology docket, was recently in Brussels, Belgium, to deliver a keynote speech at the Global Science, Technology and Innovation conference.
Held between October 23 and 25, the conference heard the minister say that strengthening the science and technology eco-system is essential for solving pressing societal challenges.
Such challenges include limited access to quality health services, hunger and malnutrition, poverty, climate change effects and limited access to safe water.
“We need to promote vaccination against all preventable diseases, provide proper nutrition, improve maternal, child and reproductive health services and increase access to safe water and sanitation,” he said.
“We need to provide technological solutions to better fight common infectious diseases such as TB, HIV, malaria, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as well as non-communicable diseases.”
Quoting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s report of 2015 which said science will be critical to meeting the challenge of sustainable development, Tumwesigye urged delegates to harness technology.
“Science, technology and innovation development is an important determinant of progress and transition from pre-industrial to innovation-led and knowledge-based societies. Therefore, the extent to which a country has harnessed science, technology and innovation has a direct bearing on its level of development,” the minister opined.
Tumwesigye suggested that a taskforce or institutional framework at the United Nations should be put in place to track progress on the development, dissemination and deployment of integrated technological solutions for SDGs.
These solutions should be feasible, acceptable and affordable from an economic and social point of view. In the long run, he opined, this infrastructure will support technological discussions at the UN and other international policy fora as they relate to SDGs, climate goals and means of implementation of multi-lateral environmental agreements.
“Such a taskforce can also negotiate mechanisms for increasing access [including price reductions] to such integrated technological solutions for poor countries to help fast-track achievement of SDGs, climate change mitigation and adaptation,” the minister said.