United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Canada, Israel and United States of America

Remarks by Ambassador David Roet, Israel Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for the US/Canada/Israel Team, 6th Session of the SDG Open Working Group, on Means of Implementation and a Global Partnership for achieving sustainable development
David Roet
Israel Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
December 10, 2013


At the outset, I would like to thank the Co-Chairs for convening this meeting, as well as the panelists for their stimulating presentations yesterday.

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Canada-US-Israel team.

We are glad the group is taking the time to discuss Means of Implementation. It is very clear that the post-2015 development agenda will need to reflect robust attention to MOI, based on solid evidence and constant learning. We agree that our discussions of goals and the wider agenda need to be serious about implementation.

One of the tensions we will need to manage is how to be concrete enough to be serious while also not being overly prescriptive in ways that will forestall innovation and continuous learning about what works. We think this is a critical point – and we will come back to it in more detail at the close of our remarks.

Today, we will not discuss financing in detail though we recognize that this is a crucial part of our agenda. We would just make a general observation that the opportunity before us is to explore policies and initiatives that can help attract a significantly greater proportion of global capital flows to development-investment.

We see opportunity in the post-2015 discussions to look at ways to maximize the development impact of flows like ODA, which represents a decreasing percentage of total development flows, as our colleague from Japan just mentioned, as well as foreign direct investment, and domestic resources. We take Mr. Solheim’s point yesterday about the need to rethink ODA.

The Expert Committee on Financing for Sustainable Development we hope will help educate us on many of these issues, and we look forward to hearing further about their progress.

We are also extremely pleased with the progress made this weekend in Bali and need to ensure that momentum is continued to advance the Doha round of the WTO.

For today, we will focus our comments primarily on science, technology, knowledge-sharing, capacity-building, and the data revolution.

Science, technology and innovation is essential for accelerating economic growth, alleviating poverty and doing so in a way that promotes sustainability. Breakthroughs in science and technology can spur quantum leaps in global development. They can encourage novel and scalable ways to reduce poverty, and can galvanize partnerships across the Post-2015 Agenda.

We stress the importance of building an ecosystem to generate knowledge that informs policy. The links between university and industry, technology and enterprise need to be created, expanded and supported.

Facilitating the adaptation of appropriate technology solutions to local contexts is highly important. Developing countries must acquire the capacity to absorb, adapt and develop scientific and technical knowledge, in order to ensure that research meets their own needs and problems. This requires strategic investments in education, vocational training, teacher training, entrepreneurship, and R&D infrastructure, as well as collaboration and idea diffusion between scientists and engineers from all regions. South-South and triangular cooperation could prove to be a very useful instrument in this regard.

We find the proposal for a Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries a promising idea and welcome further discussion of how to take this idea forward.

Capacity-building is obviously crucial and inextricably linked to all the issues we are addressing in this session, and beyond. Science, technology and innovation should be integrated in national policy development and implementation, and support other public policy goals, such as economic development, public infrastructure, education, sustainable agriculture and public health. STI should be integrated into the broader development agenda, and harnessed more effectively to address the three pillars of sustainable development.

In this spirit, Professor Heuer spoke about the critical importance of education in yesterday's panel discussion—and we are in full agreement with him on this point. Strengthening science and technology education at all levels, including technical and vocational education, training and entrepreneurship education are key to ensuring sustainable progress. As Professor Heuer said, there is no effective research without a steady supply of trained and competent people. Though it may be difficult to immediately capture the benefits associated with investments on R&D and education, the social returns are undeniable, and we must ensure political will to support them.

In our view, the most effective international science and technology programs also include recognition of the private sector's role in fostering innovation.

We talk a lot about technology transfer in philosophical terms but in practical terms, there is significant analysis, experience, and shared understanding about the best instruments and conditions for knowledge diffusion. These conditions include implementing policies that support innovation and technology transfer, such as good governance, rule of law and respect for intellectual property rights.

Finally, we cannot have a discussion on science and technology without addressing the need to close the gender gap in these fields. We need to work towards incorporating women into the technology development process to ensure they get access to technology. This is a sure way to help spur their economic advancement and stimulate broader economic growth.

Turning to data briefly, we’ve heard the call for a data revolution, and we surely recognize the challenge it will be to achieve and track global development outcomes without sufficient data, especially if we take seriously the need for our future development agenda to be more serious about inclusiveness. The need for more and more granular data to underpin smarter development strategies is clear, and we would welcome more substantive discussions with scholars, leading institutions, and colleagues about what a “data revolution” could really entail.

Last, let me come back to the question of how prescriptive we can and should be about means of implementation. We have heard colleagues express the need for any goals eventually to include all aspects of their specific means of implementation. We understand well that impulse. We would offer one important word of caution. In virtually every policy area – whether health, education, poverty eradication, social protection, etc. – the best policy instruments emerge after trial and error and learning. Not only do different contexts respond to different instruments, but often policies and tools need to be adapted over time. If we defined specific means of implementation now in virtually any arena, we would probably get them wrong. Approaches and methods constantly improve and evolve. All evidence tells us that we must maintain flexible means of implementation that will grow as our own knowledge grows. We will be well served avoiding some of the temptation to be prescriptive and trying instead to focus on address and identify the drivers of the problems while ensuring we build into our agenda the flexibility to adapt.

I will end my remarks here Mr. Co-Chair. We look forward to discussing the other topics on the agenda over the course of this week.