The CSTD discusses the impact of rapid technological changes for sustainable development

The twenty-second annual session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), which was held from 13-17 May 2019 in Geneva, addressed key issues regarding the implications of rapid technological change for sustainable development. Social media platforms, gene editing, and artificial intelligence are some examples of the rapid technological changes that could buttress development but also posit normative questions vis-à-vis possible manipulation or unsafe application that could result in inequality and division, if not applied carefully. The impact of frontier technologies is not limited to the regions where they were initially developed since they have emerged through global networks. Hence, the assessment of the implications of such technologies necessitates the engagement of different stakeholders to support national policymakers in developed and developing countries and enhance their capacities. Therefore, the global discourse of technological change should be guided by the principles of inclusiveness and multi-stakeholder. To this aim, developing countries and least developed countries should also be engaged in the global discourse and coordination among multiple initiatives should be ensured. “We need to develop tools that all countries can use to understand how technological change is relevant for their own development and assess its economic and social benefits, consequences and feedbacks,” reinforced UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant.