Intergenerational Equity in Evaluating Technology Options

Intergenerational Equity in Evaluating Technology Options
22 November 2019 09:40 - 10:30

Speaker: Marta Galambos , UN MGCY

Science, technology and innovation (STI) have been identified as an important means of implementing, reviewing, and monitoring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rapid advancements in STIs are creating both new opportunities and new challenges. In this discussion, science and technology are broadly defined to include a wide range of disciplines (e.g. social, natural, engineering), applications, and forms (e.g. hardware, software). Innovation continues to drive new knowledge from diverse sources and promote novel ways of overcoming protracted, recurring, new, and emerging issues hindering progress towards the SDGs.

Understanding the direction and speed of technological change is important to gain foresight on the potential short and long term socio- environmental impacts of STIs. These are often only realized in hindsight, with complex direct and indirect interactions - both positive and negative. Often, such implications are not yet fully understood and more deliberate attention is needed to develop mechanisms for participatory based technology assessments of the socio-economic and environmental impact of emerging technologies, taking into account nationally-and-locally driven value systems. The outcome of such an exercise can help proactively anticipate the impact of STIs and its influence on development trajectories. Technology assessments aim to guide the development of STI that is driven by technical specifications and their political, regulatory, and economic environment. As a result, they allow STIs to be inclusive, equitable, and sustainable by design, with the goal to scale STIs in a way that accelerates progress on SDGs.

While many discussions today focus exclusively on new and emerging technologies (also called frontier technologies - for example, nanotechnology, automation, robotics, AI, AR, CRISPR), these are often in isolation from other technological developments. There is a growing need to broaden the discussion on the implications of technologies on people and the planet to existing and market-ready ready technologies as well as integrated technological solutions and the systems that support them (e.g. codes/standards). Furthermore, technology assessments should be done across the entire life-cycle, including design, development, deployment, use, and discard.

The proposed panel aims to bring a youth lens to the G-STIC conference, adding an important layer of discussion based on intergenerational equity for both conference participants and beneficiaries of its outcomes. The growing importance of this topic has been extensively elaborated by various UN resolutions (A/RES/72/242 & A/RES/73/17), as well as the Secretary General’s Strategy on New Technologies and the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism. The proposed set of activities will also assist in taking GSTIC forward to a new level, where integrated technological clusters (to be) presented and discussed at GSTIC are screened against a set of soft criteria to ensure that they are socially acceptable, environmentally sound, and economically feasible and affordable.

The panel will be facilitated by the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (Science-Policy Interface Platform), with the support of IEEE TechEthics.

Guiding Questions:

- How can we ensure integrated technological solutions take the needs of the next generations into consideration before entering today's market?

- What knowledge, tools, and resources are needed to undertake integrated assessments of the socio-economic implications of technologies and their impact on the achievements of the SDGs?

- How can foresight on future impacts of technologies inform decisions today?

- What are enabling science-policy, regulatory, societal, and behavior conditions to ensure long-term trajectories of technologies that benefit people and planet?

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