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IAEA at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development

The Role of Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Growth

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Ms Najat Mokhtar, Director of the IAEA’s Division for Asia and Pacific, Department of Technical Cooperation, at the Responsible Business Forum in Singapore. (Photo: Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development, Event Report / UNDP)

Ms Najat Mokhtar, Director of the Division for Asia and Pacific in the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation, represented the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a keynote speaker in a plenary discussion panel on ‘Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Growth’ during the fifth Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development in Singapore. The Forum, which took place from 22 to 24 November 2016, aimed to examine each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to help the private sector better understand the SDGs and the opportunities in supporting governments to achieve them.

Together with Mr Steve Gang Li, Director at the Industrial Economy Research Institute, and Mr Chris Lindley, Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Footprint, Ms Mokhtar discussed the role of innovation and technology for sustainable growth. Ms Sally Uren, Chief Executive of the Forum for the Future, chaired the panel.

“We need smart and innovative technologies but also better or more efficient processes to reduce overproduction, waste and the exploitation of natural resources”, said Ms Mokhtar. She emphasized that a shift towards responsible production and consumption was crucial to sustain the resources for future generations and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“It is crucial to put in place ‘enabling’ environments for technology development and innovation. Hence, all actors - no matter if they come from business, from government or from the academic field – with all their different cultures and goals – must work together to create conducive environments for innovation to flourish. All actors have to go beyond business-as-usual and find common ground and values”, said Ms Mokhtar.

Ms Mokhtar noted that the availability of personnel that are skilled in more knowledge-intensive production is a key part of such an enabling environment. A skilled workforce allows companies to use existing and new technologies to produce goods and services sustainably.

She explained that the IAEA helps its Member States, particularly developing countries, to ensure sustainable human resource capacity through education, short and long term training, and research and development (R&D). This capacity is essential in addressing critical development needs in areas such as health, food, agriculture, water, environment and energy using variety of nuclear or nuclear-supported techniques. These range from improved drip irrigation to better cancer staging, and include tele-radiotherapy, radiation technology, radiopharmaceutical production and nuclear related technologies that deliver rapid and accurate data that help policy makers take informed and targeted decisions.

The forum was attended by 710 delegates from business, international and non-governmental organisations, governments, academia and the media.

It is crucial to put in place ‘enabling’ environments for technology development and innovation.
Najat Mokhtar

Speakers on the ‘Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Growth’ panel at the Responsible Business Forum. (Photo: Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development, Event Report / UNDP)

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