Remarks by Ms Lizbeth Cullity, UN Resident Coordinator - Dialogue on Science and Science Policy for the SDGs in the Pacific SIDS 29 March 2017, Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia, Samoa

Mar 29, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome. I will be very short today in my remarks. As many of you know, I am not a scientist, but a strong supporter of UNESCO and its broad critical mandate.

I have two points to make: the first is to salute UNESCO for organising this event. And the second is to challenge you on how to make the best use of this time of reflection together to concentrate on HOW to approach what needs to be done rather than a list of WHAT needs to be done, which I think we all know.

I think  most  of us  in  this room have  been thinking  and  talking  about  the 2030

Sustainable Agenda and its very ambitious comprehensive 17 Goals. I think that many in this room have also found the far greater emphasis on “data” as a very important development. It is, therefore, important to acknowledge that it would appear the member States have joined the world’s scientific  community  in  recognising  that  these ambitious goals can only  be reached if we are serious about tracking them.

The Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 is much more focused on the provision of evidence-informed progress, and to have evidence we need to collect data.

With great rigor, we need to establish locally where we are now with baselines and what indicators we can use and how we can best collect statistics to be able to prove that we are making headway and progress on these 17 goals.

The United Nations Pacific Team is in the process of finalizing our next 5-year strategy. To develop this strategy, we held national consultations with all 14 countries in the Pacific. We listened to civil society, private sector, academics and Governments speak to each other and to us about what they want from the United Nations.

And from my perspective they expressed clear support for the 2030 Agenda’s goal to leave no one behind. The countries I cover have been very committed and busy in localizing the SDGs and developing how they will plan, implement and monitor their progress to achieving the SDGs.

Science can and should guide planning, policy-making, institution-building, capacity- building and implementation for all the SDGs. Science, technology and innovation are also engines of sustainable, economic development in their own right.

The UN agencies in the Pacific aim to support Pacific Island Countries develop their scientific capacity to address many of the complex issues that the region is facing today, including  climate change,  health,  education,  disaster  resilience,  migration,  human rights, youth employment, amongst others. Science and good quality scientific data is the bedrock upon which all of these endeavors are built. However, we need to continue to move away from the approach where the scientific process and its outputs happen outside the region. It is crucial to continue to develop the Pacific’s own capacity to generate and harvest the knowledge (and here I include traditional knowledge) necessary to address Pacific problems.

It is therefore timely and necessary to come together to discuss the process of developing science in the Pacific, to hear from Pacific Island Countries about how you are addressing your priorities, needs, successes and challenges in relation to developing endogenous Pacific capacity for science, technology and innovation. Identifying how you believe you can progress will help the UN develop better strategies to assist you in building capacities, systems and institutions.

I wish you all the best for the dialogue over the next two days.


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