Science, Technology, and Innovation: The 9th Annual Forum.

Theodora Terracina
9th Annual Science, Technology, and Innovation Forum Banner. Image Source: The United Nations.

The infamous saying “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is a philosophical heirloom, passed down through oral tradition and storytelling from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. Its use within the humanitarian sector has inspired action and led the initiatives for long-term impact across communities. This very message was a central driving force in the ideas and mechanisms presented this year at the 9th Annual Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Forum.

From May 8th to May 10th, collaborators invested in advancing the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030, gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Providing insight and fresh ideas to tackle sustainability, a stark sense of hope for a brighter roadmap to progress was palpable. This year, the Forum contributors focused on two main themes: getting ahead of the curve in anticipation and developing a renewed plan for forward movement.

Hosted by the two co-chairs – Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, and Her Excellency Christina Markus Lassen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations – the Forum held an in-depth review of five major SDGs: Goal 1 – End poverty; Goal 2 – End hunger and achieve food security; Goal 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change; Goal 13 – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development; and Goal 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

Through a series of side events, thematic sessions, and representative discussions, attendees of the Forum attentively listened and actively participated. As multiple themes became noticeably recurrent throughout the week, the plan to anticipate needs and localize resources was evident throughout.

Youth Involvement 

Carol Bellamy, a former US Senator and the current chair of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) board opened a side event on May 8th by stating, “The definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results.”

In this side-event titled “Ensuring Good Food for All, Today and Tomorrow,” hosted by the World Food Forum, Mrs. Bellamy delved into new ideologies for a developed roadmap to achieve greater food security. Under the agenda of doing things differently, is the emphasis on paving the way for young individuals to become further involved in science. Having young voices amplified in greater technical spaces typically dominated by professionals in the field clears the path for innovation. As argued, by Adnan Seric, the head of the innovation lab at UNIDO, it is not enough to simply support youth-led innovations. Seric makes a crucial point – organizations must offer a helping hand to deploy these solutions, and correspondingly, provide aid to implement these ideas on a grander scale.

Individuals from the World Food Forum, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, along with young entrepreneurs and youth innovators, present their involvement in science and research for food and agricultural security. Image Source Credit: The World Food Forum.

Highlighted throughout the rest of the event, an immense platform was provided to the youth initiatives led by the World Food Forum, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The conversation continued to expand by bringing numerous youth innovators, researchers, and young representatives of these institutions to speak on their recent project experiences regarding food security and agricultural transformation.

Opening Remarks

Beginning at 10 am, the 9th Annual STI Forum commenced with opening remarks by Dennis Francis, the 78th President of the United Nations General Assembly. In re-emphasizing the General Assembly’s recent First-Ever Sustainability Week, the forum turned the fragile state of these sustainable goals last discussed, into agile steps for solutions.

Some of the steps mentioned included expanding investment and scientific knowledge and improving climate technologies. One highlighted prompt referred to the extensive divides in accessibility that continue to exist. Especially concerning the unequally equipped nature between Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Island Developing Countries (SIDs), revamping all necessary advancements allows utilizing cooperation as an accessible bridge, according to Francis. 

Dennis Francis, President of the UNGA, sitting in attendance at the Science, Technology, and Innovation Forum. Image Source Credit: UN Web TV.

Setting the Stage: The Action Item Presented

Subsequently, Mr. Hart followed suit. As the advisor on climate change to the secretary general he emphasizes the two main goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These are: 1. The race to net zero and 2. the race to deliver climate justice. “We are failing on both fronts,” Hart stated.

As global temperatures continue to rise, as six out of every ten people on the entire African continent do not have access to early warning systems, and as developing countries continue to be abandoned in the rearview mirror, Hart echoes Francis: these challenges must be addressed. 

Sharing with the audience the shocking fact that individuals in hot spot countries tend to be those contributing least to the climate crisis and yet remain fifteen times as likely to die from its effects, Hart expresses that there is no abscess of finance to be able to adjust these variables. He promptly urged that cheap and flexible finances be utilized to spearhead these dichotomies and pressing issues.

Artificial Intelligence 

Invited to speak on behalf of a growing phenomenon in the technological development sector, Daniela Braga proceeded to make a statement. As the Executive Director of Designated AI, she shared dialogue on the positive developments that AI can be used for to aid in sustainable development, as well as the negative side of how AI is currently being employed.

Daniela Braga, addressing the audience members and fellow representatives on Artificial Intelligence. Image Source Credit: United Nations Web TV.

At the moment, Braga explains the avid competition present within the AI market to win the technological race. Rather than working collaboratively towards a greater goal – specifically the Sustainable Development Goals – Braga dives into the structural barriers that exist within AI’s sustainable goals.

As digital content and moderation, and the training costs for AI models continue to grow at unprecedented levels, a large gap in this digital content remains and continues to increase. As such, the digital exploitation of labor, particularly in developing countries continues to expand this gap, creating an added layer of development barriers for the global south. 

Braga establishes a plan of action. With investments in artificial intelligence severely underfunded and underinvested, she states the best way forward is to build frameworks for responsible artificial intelligence. Such responsibility can provide inherent sustainability. 

The Undersecretary General of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC), Li Junhua of China, continues. Utilizing AI to our advantage provides great potential. While it is rather difficult to eliminate climate change and its effects, using such artificial intelligence can help change its course and progression. 

Funding and Global Partnerships

Throughout the Forum, opening and continuing dialogue for cooperation, was a constant. Forging pathways within the world of science, technology, and innovation, has been, and undoubtedly remains evidence of sustainable change. However, it remains of constant prominence in every conference.

Adnan Seric of UNIDO offers his platform. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization provides a platform to unify partnerships in the sciences for enhanced improvement. Through a collaboration with the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), Seric’s speech during the May 8th side event delves deeper into the innovative solutions that have been engaged for a further fruitful pragmatic approach.

Vincent Martin, Director of the Office of Innovation at FAO echoes this approach. Posing the question of how to join forces across United Nations Sectors, as well as the youth, he reiterates the promise that comes from fostering intergenerational conversation.

As country representatives between May 9th and May 10th step up to the podium to share their state’s deliverables, each one extends the same message of partnership and collaboration between governments, in addition to establishing alliances amongst the private sector and civil society members.


On the first day of the conference, Daniela Braga, Executive Director of Designated AI, proposed the analogy of Prometheus. The myth goes as follows: Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus, disobeying Zeus and the Gods. Prometheus proceeded to gift that fire to humanity, allowing them to take ownership of their actions; civilization was created. Delivering this fire translated into knowledge and technology for humans. In doing so, Prometheus allowed humans to dictate their lives and acted as a catalyst for the progression of civilization. 

This metaphor presented spoke volumes, delivering a illuminated cognizance for how best to proceed. The power harnessed between science, technology, and artificial intelligence can lead us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals that we so sacredly seek in the 2030 Agenda. However, without being given the tools – such as the fire of Prometheus – Braga argues that this evolution will be slighted. It is through the hands of those seated at the UN, that solutions can be aptly delivered to create a more sustainable world. 

For more information, please read the following:

International Science Council. “9th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum 2024).”

Economic and Social Counsel. “Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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Science, Technology, and …

by Theodora Terracina time to read: 6 min