Intervention by H.E.  Rabab Fatima Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the Thematic Discussion on: Leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation to fight multidimensional vulnerabilities and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on Monday, 25 May 2021

I thank you Co-Chairs for giving me the floor. Congratulations on a rich panel discussion.

Hon’ble Adviser, ITU Secretary General, Distinguished Panelists,

 Good Morning.

 I thank the keynote speakers and panelists for their insightful and stimulating presentations. I thank the ICT Adviser Mr. Wazed, for sharing Bangladesh’s transformative experience to ensure inclusive and affordable digital access and coverage.  I commend his leadership to advance the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  That was instrumental in expanding internet connectivity, leading to the growth of e-governance and e-businesses that have helped our country to be more inclusive and prosperous. And this is now contributing immensely to our COVID-19 response and recovery, as we heard from him now.

One lesson stands out. A long-term political vision along with multi-stakeholder partnership for STI is so important to ensure a transformative impact on the ground. The role of private sectors, businesses, academia, and scientific community are also critical in this regard.

Application of STI can foster sustainable development and resilient recovery in many LDCs. Yet in most basic foundations of STI are weak. They lack the required skills, interlinked infrastructure, broadband or transport networks to reap the benefits of technological progress. In effect, the STI gaps put serious impediments to ensure productive capacity building and structural transformation in these countries.

The LDC5 outcome document should therefore, envisage ambitious STI goals for LDCs. Allow me to highlight a couple of issues and a few specific questions in this regard:

First, the global distribution of scientific capacity and access to knowledge are unequal. The high-income countries are far ahead in R&D capacities and innovation skills. The LDCs remain at the bottom echelon.  And there are other inequalities both within and across societies, especially the gender digital gap. Women have far less access to technological and digital entrepreneurship than men. I would like to hear from our panelists, how the next POA can address these divides and ensure a more equitable access to STI for people in LDCs, especially for women? Bangladesh has important experience to share in this regard.

Second, COVAX is an inspiring example of global partnership. This can serve as a model to resolve other pressing challenges, such as on education and health, which were the hardest hit sectors in this pandemic. Could we also build similar global partnership, say for digital education, which will ensure quality education to children in LDCs, especially those who are the furthest behind? How can the UN rally partnership and resources to make such collaboration and outreach to happen?  How do we include private sectors, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholders to achieve this goal? If Mr. Zhao could elaborate on the ITU-UNICEF initiative on e-education.

Third and finally, affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines is the top priority now. If this issue is not addressed immediately, LDCs will face serious humanitarian and economic misery for years to come. LDCs enjoy flexibilities under TRIPS article 66.1. The advanced economies and vaccine manufacturers can utilize this flexibility to share technologies and formulas of vaccines with LDCs, especially those with the capacity to produce vaccines, like my country.

This can be the most effective and affordable way to ensure full vaccinations of people living in LDCs and beyond. I would like to hear from the panelists on how we can build partnership across Member States and various UN agencies including LDC technology bank to support this cause? Would like to hear what the Technology Bank is doing in this regard.  Some tangible examples please.

I would rest it here. I thank once again, our distinguished speakers for their important contribution today.  We look forward to their active support to LDC5.

I thank you all.