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Technology and Innovation Report 2018: Harnessing Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development

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The Technology and Innovation Report 2018: Harnessing Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development notes that change is becoming exponential thanks to the power of digital platforms and innovative combinations of different technologies that become possible every day. This opens exciting possibilities for the democratization of frontier technologies to materialize in development solutions. The report proposes strategies and actions, some of them based on existing experiences in STI policy for development, and some more innovative ones to make technology an effective means of implementation of our common development agenda — nationally and globally.

The report also suggests that countries develop policies to help people navigate the transition period that lies ahead. This may require that stakeholders adapt the social contract to the new world that frontier technologies are forming. Education will become an even more indispensable lever for development and social justice. Since digital technologies as enablers and multipliers of other frontier technologies we should ensure that all — and specially women and girls — are given a real chance to build digital capabilities. Lifelong learning will need to be supported. For those who may struggle to keep up with the transformation, countries will have to be innovative in providing effective social protection mechanisms.

Most crucially, there is an urgent need for a sustained effort by the international community to ensure that the multiple gaps in technological capabilities that separate developed and developing countries are closed. Investment in hard and soft infrastructure and human capital, complemented by a scaled up, coherent and accelerated effort to enhance innovation systems for sustainable development are necessary to spread the economic, social and environmental benefits of frontier technologies.

By providing a platform for policy dialogue and experience-sharing, and through our capacity-building programmes, UNCTAD and the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development, which we service, have an international policy role to fulfill in the development of the global responds to those challenges. Our intention is that the Technology and Innovation Report 2018 will help launch a dialogue about how to harness technology for the achievement of the SDGs and in larger and more profound sense, the shared future of the people of the world.


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. 2018. Technology and Innovation Report 2018: Harnessing Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development.

The work is available open access by complying with the Creative Commons license created for intergovernmental organizations, available at


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