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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Technology differences do not hinder unified problem-solving, says science chief

“Technology peculiarities must not prevent nor detract us from a unified problem-solving approach to our shared but currently endangered fate and inheritance.”

This was the central message of DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo in his keynote speech during the opening ceremonies of the 2011-2012 Inter-Sessional Panel of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) at the New World Hotel, Makati City

In his talk, Secretary Montejo recognized the importance of science and technology for development, particularly the role of information technology in shaping and reconfiguring today’s economic environment.

Yet he also acknowledged the presence of a knowledge divide among developed and developing countries, and that this gap is creating a tension of opposites in their hierarchy of needs.

As such, he said, it is urgent for UNCSTD Member States to identify immediate and pressing issues that commonly affect them such as health and food security, as well as environment management and protection, among many others. These issues, he said, are prompted by rapid population growth and increased domestic and cross-border mobility.

“These pervasive concerns should lead us to agree on a joint strategy or strategies to cut down and manage the risks, [since] shared risks can be best managed through shared resources,” Montejo pointed out. “In this way, we raise our chances to overcome any outsized and compelling threat.”

The solution, he suggested, lies in creating more clearly-defined information sharing arrangements to deepen the knowledge base of individual countries, step up technology development, and optimize benefits.

“The power of ICT becomes a critical enabling tool,” Montejo said. “I am hopeful we can try and reach a mutually-acceptable working agreement on information and technology exchanges.”

The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development was established in 1992 to serve as a forum for the following objectives: (1) the examination of science and technology questions and their implications for development; (2) the advancement of understanding on S&T policies, particularly in respect to developing countries; and (3) the formulation of recommendations and guidelines on S&T matters within the United Nations system.

At the 14th UNCSTD Session in Geneva, DOST Undersecretary Fortunato T. de la Pena was elected Chair for the 15th Session of the Commission.

The 2011-2012 Inter-Sessional Panel addresses two priority themes: (1) innovation, research, technology transfer for mutual advantage, entrepreneurship and collaborative development in the information society; (2) open access, virtual science libraries, geospatial analysis and other complementary ICT, S&T, engineering, and mathematics assets to address development issues, with particular attention to education. Alan Taule, S&T Media Service

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