Narrowing technology gap key to reducing poverty in poorest nations – UN

19 July 2007

The world’s 50 poorest nations must harness science, technology and innovation to be able to achieve the kind of economic growth needed to reduce poverty, according to a new United Nations report released today.

Prepared by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the report focuses on how the Governments of least developed countries (LDCs) and their development partners can promote technological progress in these countries.

“This report is particularly important because it focuses on a new area that we usually don’t associate with the least developed countries, which is their emerging interest to use science and technology as a vehicle for economic transformation,” Calestous Juma, Director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at Harvard University, said at a press conference in New York.

Mr. Juma said the report, entitled “Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation,” very clearly lays out why science and technology matters for the LDCs – a group of 50 States that have been identified as “least developed” in terms of their low per capita gross domestic product, their weak human assets and their high degree of economic vulnerability.

“It is evident reading through the report that the least developed countries will continue to be poor if they don’t significantly invest in their capacity to learn, to industrialize,” he stated.

The report adds that the current pattern in LDCs appears to be “economic liberalization without learning, and global integration without innovation.” As such, it argues that LDCs must “innovate their way out of poverty.”

The Governments of LDCs should adopt policies to spur science, technology and innovation, as well as improve infrastructure, human capital and financial systems, the report recommends.

 

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