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Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 25 maj 2016 var hon minister för strategi och framtidsfrågor samt nordiskt samarbete.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 25 maj 2016 var hon minister för strategi och framtidsfrågor samt nordiskt samarbete.

State Secretary Fjaestad’s opening address at roundtable discussion on Science, Technology and Innovation for Development


19th session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).

Genève, den 9 maj 2016.

Det talade ordet gäller. (Tal på engelska.)

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the invitation to come together around this vital topic: what can science and technology do for the sustainable development goals?

Let me first state that the 2030 Agenda provides a solid platform for the policies needed to build equitable and sustainable societies. The implementation of the global goals is a high priority for the Swedish Government. And – I am pleased to say – for Swedish society.

To realise the SDGs we, as policy makers, need to recognise the immense potential of science, technology and innovation. We are in the midst of a new industrial revolution. Key Enabling Technologies and the usage of other cutting edge technology in new areas and new ways will help tackle societal challenges and at the same time stimulate growth.

I love technology. I believe that politics must and should embrace technological development. As a former engineer, I also see the need to question technology from time to time.

New technologies are developing at rapid speed. Better foresight and more responsive institutions will be crucial to ensure that the international community tackles issues of the future and not of the past. Politics will need to be able to keep up with technology. Existing UN entities all have important roles to play, from their respective vantage points.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous devices, 3D printing, or blockchain technology are all examples of powerful technological developments that will require insight, foresight, adaptation and discussion on both the national and international scene. When digitalisation changes the way we work, live and communicate, politics must deliver new answers.

At the same time, policy should foster innovation. We believe that focusing on grand challenges is a good way to stimulate cross-sector innovation. Innovation happens in the overlap between industries and areas of competence. Open Innovation and open data have key future roles in this perspective.

Innovation capacity is the combined result of many different factors, such as:

  1. long-term investments in research and higher education
  2. good framework conditions for companies and
  3. an inclusive society with a strong social security system.

Regarding the third point, I would like to stress the importance of gender equality as well as diversity. Both these aspects are important to stimulate innovation.

(Policy, of course plays a vital role. Just to mention one example, the Swedish Government aims to have a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030 and, in the long term, to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. We are aiming to become one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations. This type of government initiative, together with other projects, will contribute to new methods, processes and technologies that eventually can be disseminated to other parts of the world.)

In December, the 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society concluded in New York, laying out the direction for how the world will seek to reduce the digital divide and ensuring that ICTs and the internet are used to contribute to achieving all 17 development goals. It marked the final negotiation of a year where the world united in its views on sustainable development. The close linkage between WSIS and the 2030 Agenda also means that ICTs and the internet are now recognised as an important tool for furthering progress on the development goals as a whole.

Increasing access and closing the digital divide is a key issue. Access to ICTs is particularly important for the economic and social empowerment of women and girls. This is not only an issue of access to technology. It is also one of representation and participation.

The many dimensions of the digital gender gap are visible even in my own country. Women are subjected to hate speech and cyber violence. Some women are now even refraining from using the internet, concerned about their safety and their integrity. The same patriarchal power structures that limit the lives of women offline are also present online in every society. This is both a security and a human rights issue. We need to focus on empowerment of women and we need to approach the topic with a power analysis.

These challenges must be addressed within the framework of human rights and the rule of law. Cyber security must be about securing human rights. Sweden therefore does not subscribe to notions of the need to 'balance' security and human rights. Cyber security protects human rights.

This is important, because a failure to establish strong norms, accountable institutions and good regulation in this area has consequences for another global trend: the shrinking democratic space, which often includes restrictive internet legislation. Censorship and blocking are increasing. Countries are contemplating or enacting legislation against encryption. We see increasing numbers of attacks, both physical and virtual, on human rights defenders throughout the world.

This is never the right way to go. We must combine technological development with a clear human rights perspective; only so can we reap all the benefits for humankind.

Let me conclude by actually trying to answer one of the questions stipulated in the starting points for this panel: What should be the priorities in terms of technologies and in terms of national and international policies for maximising the contribution of STI to the achievement of SDGs? Let me give you three priorities from the Swedish perspective:

  1. First: let's focus on how to close the global digital divide. How do we ensure that the divide not only between countries, but also within countries is narrowed? Equal access to information technology remains unimplemented, rather the divide in access and use due to class, gender, age and ethnicity tends to increase. This is unacceptable.

  2. Energy technology for a sustainable future. We cannot consume in such a way that we endanger the needs of the next generation. We all know this. In the Swedish ambition to be the first fossil-free welfare state, the real goal is not the kilograms of carbon dioxide saved, but the possibility to act as forerunner. Because – we can do it. We can focus on social welfare, environment and growth at the same time. This kind of integration between SDGs is also very much the purpose of the interlinked agenda.

  3. We must have active technology assessment. We must always ensure a constant evaluation of technology to ensure that it serves the purpose of human needs and never the opposite. But with clear political goals in relationship to technology, we have every possibility to reach the development goals by using the full potential of the digital revolution.

Thank you.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 25 maj 2016 var hon minister för strategi och framtidsfrågor samt nordiskt samarbete.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 25 maj 2016 var hon minister för strategi och framtidsfrågor samt nordiskt samarbete.