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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

01 December 2020

Opening Address

Distinguished delegates, participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the International Conference on ‘Emerging Technologies to Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic’. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China and Guangzhou University, China for jointly organising this conference along with the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact in slowing down the progress we have made towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Yet, science, technology and innovation (STI), through various innovative and digital solutions, has proved very effective in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many aspects of our lives have turned into a virtual mode. We are all increasingly dependent on access to digitally-driven technological innovations and its interlinkages.

New and emerging technologies are increasingly playing a significant role through digital innovations such as artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things, massive open online courses, three-dimensional printing and digital automation, among others.

These emerging technologies and innovations have large positive developmental impacts at various levels, including:

  • Health care provisioning through development of vaccination, medicines, mobile diagnostics, drone delivery, wearable sensors, etc.
  • Workforce services and modernization through remote working, online learning, online civic services, e-commerce, etc.
  • Economic transformation through digitalisation of factories, real-time supply chain monitoring, industrial autonomous vehicles, etc.

STI is providing a critical assistance in all aspects of our lives and livelihoods during this turbulent COVID-19 era.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As member States are working towards a post-COVID-19 recovery strategy, gaining the public’s trust by increasingly utilizing emerging digital technologies and sharing credible information in a timely manner is essential. 

Allow me to highlight three policy issues for your further consideration:

First, implementing STI policies to sustain human and economic well-being. Building back better from COVID-19 crisis should focus on strengthening STI landscape that can contribute to mitigating the socio-economic impacts on the vulnerable groups.

Second, fostering usage of emerging technologies. Governments need to work with the private sector in scaling up ICT infrastructure for the effective use of technological innovations, and to expand their coverage.

Third, greening the recovery. Governments need to expand policies so that industries follow low-carbon development path through usage of contemporary and emerging ‘clean’ technologies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

APCTT has already been providing STI related support to member States in these unprecedented times. In addition to its regular programme of capacity-building work, APCTT has been in the forefront in organising regional and international policy workshops on topics related to COVID-19 to identify and form various STI policy options.

ESCAP along with the UN system stands ready to work with governments, private sectors, innovators, research institutions and all stakeholders in building back better in the post COVID-10 era.

I hope that through your active participation and deliberations, this international conference will be able to identify STI-led development strategies on how member States can advance the 2030 Agenda through regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific.

I wish you a very successful conference.

Thank you.

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