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05.05.2021

United Nations STI Forum 2021

By Magdalena Obmalko

“The digital technology revolution concentrated power and compounded global inequalities. Whether the same happens with the biotechnology revolution is determined by who gets to participate in shaping these technologies and on what terms, and again, how the benefits are distributed across society.”

— Natsai Audrey Chieza, UN STI Forum, 2021

We are very excited to share that our founder, Natsai Audrey Chieza, was a panellist at the United Nations sixth annual Science, Technology and Innovation Forum for the Sustainable Development Goals that took place on the 4th of May, 2021. In session 3: Effective paths towards the SDGs: STI for transforming economies toward equity, sustainability and climate action, Joyeeta Gupta, William H. Lee and Natsai, presented their remarks on alternative and innovative approaches to science and technology that can start to tackle significant global challenges. In particular, they focused on the following goals: decent work and economic growth, reduced inequality, responsible consumption and production, and climate change.

In a discussion co-chaired by Mohammad Koba and moderated by Anne-Christine Ritschkoff, the panellists were in dialogue with the wider UN stakeholders and explored issues such as improving the science-policy-society interface, increasing scientific collaboration globally, and building capacity so that the benefits of science, technology, and innovation can be distributed fairly.

Recognising that past technology revolutions have concentrated power and compounded global inequalities, Natsai stresses the importance of policy frameworks, institutions, public and private sectors to enable, fund and sustain the participatory co-design of our biological futures. Engaging diverse pools of stakeholders, including those most marginalised by society on the basis of gender, caste, race, class, sexuality, religion, and disability, is vital to ensure that the benefits of these new technologies are distributed fairly.

​Her remarks also address the need to challenge dominant business models that fuel overconsumption and waste production, as they will serve only to displace the harms associated with the continued extraction of fossil fuels. This will undermine the environmental and social impacts we hope can be made by biomanufacturing. Key to addressing this challenge is an innovation framework for biotechnology that integrates the design of biology with the design of broader social, economic and ecological systems.

Tune into the recorded session here.

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