THE WORLD ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SITUATION, 2018: ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES AT THE SERVICE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A OVERVIEW

2018 edition of The World Economic and Social Situation reports on advances in advanced technologies, including automation, robotics, renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and contains an analysis of their economic, social and environmental impacts. These technologies offer tremendous opportunities for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting growth, prosperity and environmental sustainability. On the other hand, they are also likely to lead to unemployment and underemployment, to widen income and wealth inequalities, and to raise new ethical and moral concerns.

The Economic and Social Situation Around the World, 2018: Leading-Edge Technologies for Sustainable Development: An Overview

The review examines countries’ efforts to take full advantage of these technologies while mitigating their risks, in order to achieve a balance between economic efficiency, equity and ethics. There is evidence that incentives need to be provided for the development, dissemination and adoption of enabling and appropriate technologies, and that more investment in education, vocational training is needed. and social protection.As no single country can manage the spillover effects of new technologies, which transcend national and sectoral boundaries, there is a call for global collective action to address the challenge of advancing technology so that benefit everyone and that no one is left out. The need to strengthen international cooperation is emphasized, particularly in the research and development of technologies essential to sustainable development as universal commons, in accordance with the desire of all States to assume shared and differentiated responsibilities.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development brings humanity together in the quest for a common aspiration and invites it to embark on a new path. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the Program are universal and complementary. In order to achieve these ambitious goals without leaving anybody behind, it will be important to develop new development strategies and find innovative ways to mobilize resources. Advanced technologies could give new impetus to progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2018 World Economic and Social Survey examines how some new technologies2 may promote or hinder sustainable development, and a list of measures that can broaden their potential benefits and mitigate their potential effects. harmful effects on sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Goals serve “humanity, planet and prosperity”. In order to achieve the goals of eliminating hunger, reducing maternal and child mortality, and ending the AIDS epidemic, malaria and tuberculosis, it will be necessary to generalize the application of technological advances in genetics and in nanomedicine. Creating decent jobs, building resilient infrastructure, and promoting sustainable industrialization will require the use of automation, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Renewable energy technologies will expand access to cheap and reliable energy sources and, with electric vehicles, it could be possible to reduce emissions and help combat climate change . It is recognized in the study that a number of developed countries and some major developing countries only are at the forefront of technological innovation, while many developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, are Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States3 continue to face significant challenges in innovation and the adoption of new technologies. To achieve sustainable development, it will be important to strengthen international cooperation to design, disseminate, adopt and adapt advanced technologies, taking into account the shared and differentiated responsibilities of all countries.In the history of humanity, technology has always been a catalyst for progress and prosperity. In the past, technologies have evolved gradually, and it has often taken decades or even centuries for them to be disseminated and adopted. The resulting structural and behavioral changes often occur quickly. The study shows that advanced technologies are spreading rapidly, transcending national and sectoral boundaries, which is both an asset and a challenge.

Advanced technologies include materials such as graphene and biodegradable plastics; new products and devices such as electric vehicles and photovoltaic solar panels; scientific advances in the fields of genomic publishing and nanomedicine; more participatory science platforms; new tools and applications, including blockchain, 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence. All these products, services and tools are the subject of hundreds or even thousands of individual patents.

These technologies are often interdependent and dependent on each other, as the evolution of one is likely to affect many others. Just as rapid advances in transistor performance have resulted in faster, smaller devices, advances in artificial intelligence will make many advanced technologies smarter and more efficient.

It is emphasized in the study that technological change is rarely neutral and free. Indeed, while the industrial revolutions of the past have increased efficiency and prosperity, they have been accompanied by enormous environmental costs and have contributed to widening income inequalities between countries and regions. Technological advances such as automation can serve the interests of capital holders, but serve the workers and widen existing inequalities in income distribution. They can be accompanied by spillovers and external effects in and between countries, with painful adjustment costs for different population groups. Emerging technologies also have ethical problems that could undermine trust, cohesion, tolerance, peace and stability. In this regard, there is a call for the promotion of ethical standards and the establishment of effective and transparent institutions that would guide progress in the design of many technologies and promote the development of peaceful and inclusive societies.

Over the last three centuries, technological progress has allowed a limited number of countries to leapfrog while others have lagged behind, as evidenced by the large technological gap between countries today. . Many developing countries still have to take full advantage of past technological breakthroughs. The study notes that there is an urgent need to bridge the technological gap between developed countries and many developing countries. The ease with which advanced technologies can be disseminated and replicated allows technological shortcuts, but it will nevertheless be imperative to invest massively in human resources and infrastructure in many developing countries in order to bridge the technological divide between developed countries. and less developed countries.

National innovation systems play a pivotal role in the entry of new technologies into the market. However, there is no single model for developing a national innovation system. The public and private sectors play different and complementary roles, depending on the level of development and market structure at the local level. The study points out that a balance needs to be struck between efficiency and profitability on the one hand, and fairness and ethics on the other, in order to commercialize appropriate technologies geared to sustainable development (see figure I). . National innovation systems, underpinned by policies, guiding principles and incentives, can provide a balance. A national innovation system could have a significant advantage for developing countries in enabling local firms to adopt the technologies most critical to achieving their sustainable development priorities. Targeted investments in research and development (R & D) can help these countries bridge technological gaps and move directly to the use of emerging technologies.

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