United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Italy’s intervention in Session 3: Realizing the potential of STI for the SDGs

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

• Italy aligns itself with the statement of the European Union and would like to share with the Forum some additional comments, thanking the Co-Chairs for their excellent work.
• Italy is more than convinced that Science, Technology and Innovation, are among the most crucial cross-cutting issues of the 2030 Agenda and its means of implementation. We see an important role of the public sector, as an enabler, but there is also an immense role for the private sector, to play both as a vehicle that can be a prelude to investments as well as a means of transmission and creation of entrepreneurial know-how and technological capacity and innovation for production.
• STI is an area that Italy will continue to keep high on its agenda, based on the pioneer experience that we have built over the past 50 years with the development of the Trieste Pole of Scientific Research for Developing Countries. 50 years of heritage in the field of advanced scientific education, empowerment of human scientific capacity in a spirit of cooperation and with a special attention to youth and women coming from our development partners.
• In particular, Trieste hosts the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the World Academy of Science (TWAS) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnologies (ICGEB), three of the most important international centers for advanced scientific education and research for students coming from developing countries and emerging economies.
• Trieste represents a unique experience for building the kind of partnerships that the 2030 Agenda requires to facilitate access to and develop science for sustainable development; having received over the years thousands of students and allowing them, with the guidance of international professors and Nobel Laureates, to develop research in fields as diverse as climate change, the peaceful application of atomic energy and renewable energy, tissue regeneration and malaria vaccination.
• With an overall financing of about 30 million euros each year, Italy not only promotes some of the most advanced scientific knowledge and research, gathering the best international scientists, but also plays a leading role in overcoming inequalities and unbalances for promoting innovation, science and technology transfer for the benefit of sustainable development for all.
• Also in Trieste, on the 24th-25th of May, Italy hosted the meeting of the United Nations Secretary General Scientific Advisory Board (UNSAB) and, upon our request, UNSAB also maintained a focus also on how to strengthen scientific capacities in developing countries to achieve the SDGs and we therefore appreciate UNSAB’s feedback this week on this issue.
• Another key institution for STI in Italy is ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development). ENEA is one of the founders of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), which is the public research pillar of the EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan, that aims at accelerating the development and market uptake of key low carbon technologies.
• Internationally, ENEA is actively working in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East, among other regions, to remove barriers related to the legal, regulatory, economic and organizational frameworks for solar energy technologies, spreading energy efficiency and also contributing to better cross-border cooperation in the field.
• The recent Italy-Africa ministerial Conference in Rome (18-19th of May) also put the focus on science, technology and innovation as a key cross-cutting element for joint prosperity and for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with a strong emphasis on the role of renewable energies and agricultural modernization, among other themes.
• We also would like to highlight an event that was held here in New York, on April 12th, hosted by our Permanent Mission: a high-level conference on the topic of “Fighting Climate Change: Sharing Italy’s Innovative Technology”, precisely to showcase transformative technologies, which gathered representatives from major Italian companies working in the field of innovative and sustainable technologies.
• For a development donor, as Italy, there has always been a key focus on the human capital we need to invest in order to spark innovation. It’s a priority in our development agenda, in the initiatives that we are supporting in partner countries; and it’s a priority within our own national agenda.
• Strengthening scientific human capacity in developing countries, as we look at it, means helping the local and global development of scientific research, of technologies and of innovation for enhancing our means in facing the major present (and future) challenges, starting from climate change, but with the realization that the 2030 Agenda requires multi-dimensional and longer term thinking to achieve success.
• We also intend to build on the legacy of Expo Milan 2015 "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" and the Milan Charter. In this regard, Italy will continue to champion science, technology and innovation with a special focus on food security and sustainable agriculture, in particular by promoting better channels of diffusion and transfer of know-how and best practices.
• We have already shared with the United Nations the experience of a project called “Feeding Knowledge” that matured in the framework of Expo Milan, as a platform of exchange of best experiences for innovation in sustainable agriculture, which we regard as a possible contribution for the setting up of the Online Platform of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism.
• Developed by CIHEAM (the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies based in Bari-Italy) and the Polytechnic of Milan, “Feeding Knowledge” is a platform for sharing applied research and best practices based on the needs of operators, more specifically small farmers in the Mediterranean area. The platform created ensures a direct link between specific needs, science and research. Moreover, this type of model can be adapted to other sectors and geographic regions. This aspect represents its value added.
• Let me conclude by saying that we are very much looking forward to the meeting next July of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, as the “apex” architecture of 2030 Agenda implementation. The HLPF needs to reserve an important place for the discussion that has been maturing here today on STI, helping the HLPF focus more and more on the substance of the 2030 Agenda.