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Promoting Innovation for Inclusive Sustainable Development

Beirut, Lebanon

 ESCWA co-organized a session on Innovation Policies for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development as part of the Fourth Session of the Arab Forum for Scientific Research and Sustainable Development, held under the auspices of Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ashraf al Shihi, on 16-18 December 2016.
The ESCWA session brought to light the importance of innovation policies for economic growth and for the achievement of inclusive sustainable development.
Chief of the ESCWA Innovation Section Nibal Idlebi presented in the session a framework for drafting innovation policies in Arab States aligned with the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
ESCWA experts, Hisham Hadara and Alaaeddine Idriss presented the establishment of an innovation system in Egypt and proposals for the development of this system’s rules and regulations, based on studies made in the framework of the regional project “The Establishment of Technology Transfer Offices in Selected Arab Countries,” whose implementation is overseen by the Amman-based  ESCWA Technology Centre (ETC).  The Adaptation to Climate Change in the Water Sector in the MENA Region Programme (ACCWaM) of Deutsche Gesellschaft für InternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) Consultant Nisrine al Laham presented in this session as well some experiences in solar energy agriculture in Jordan, laying out the importance of innovation in this regard.
In addition to innovation policies, the Forum addressed many important issues such as the education system and its role in promoting scientific research and sustainable development; the role of research and development in the attainment of sustainable industrial development; and the tools to measure the impact and returns of scientific research in Arab societies. The Session also highlighted scientific research in nanotechnology, and the role of Arab women in areas of science and technology.
The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) oversees the organization of this Forum, in cooperation with several regional and international organizations concerned with scientific research and progress for development, notably ESCWA, the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO), the Union of Arab Scientific Research Councils, national councils for education, science and culture, and the Rafic Hariri Foundation. Also participating in the organization of this Session were the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Academy for Scientific Reseach and Technology, Zewail City of Science and Technology, and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI).
The Fourth Session of the Arab Forum for Scientific Research and Sustainable Development concluded with recommendations that highlighted the importance of scientific research, technology and innovation, and the need to stimulate cooperation and integration among Arab countries in this regard to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Recommendations also noted the need to establish innovation-specific policies, legislation, and work plans in cooperation between governments and all concerned stakeholders: universities, research centres, and the private sector, especially that these policies will promote creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and contribute to creating new employment opportunities for youth and women.
Recommendations of the Session also focused on nanotechnology and called for the promotion of business initiatives in nanotechnologies to bring about economic resurgence to tackle pressing priority issues to the Arab region (water, health, energy, agriculture and food). They also noted the necessity to establish national programs for science and nanotechnologies that are aligned with the Arab Initiative to “use” nanotechnologies and sciences, overseen by the Union of Arab Scientific Research Councils. Lastly, the recommendations stressed the need to strengthen the participation of women in science, technology and innovation, and to establish achievement awards in this line, and support the leadership of women in this area.