High-level round table on the role of science, technology, and innovation in Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: delivered by hon’ble Minister of State (IC) Dr. Jitendra Singh High-level round table on the role of science, technology, and innovation in Building back better f..

High-level round table on the role of science, technology, and innovation in Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: delivered by hon’ble Minister of State (IC) Dr. Jitendra Singh

28 March 2022

His Excellency Mr. Mansour Al-Qurashi, Chair of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development

Her Excellency Ms. Rebecca Grynspan, Secretary General, UNCTAD

My fellow distinguished panellists,

Ladies and Gentleman,

  • It is an honour to join this high-level round table at the 25th Session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on a topic as timely and pertinent as leveraging Science and Technology to Build Back Better and Achieve SDGs.

  • COVID-19 came on the eve of “Decade of Action” (2020-2030) and has undoubtedly disrupted decades of developmental progress on many fronts. It has resulted in the most damaging humanitarian and economic crisis since the Second World War, especially for the more vulnerable countries.

  • The pandemic has diminished the funds available to achieve Agenda 2030 in this Decade of Action and diverted them for more pressing humanitarian requirements. Estimates suggest that the annual SDG financing gap could increase by 70 % from pre-covid level to US $ 4.2 trillion.

  • The challenge is, therefore, to ensure that momentum towards Agenda 2030 that seeks to attain SDGs, is not lost as we the world recovers from the pandemic.

  • The challenges which face us now make it clear that we need a “whole-of-society” approach in both building back better from the pandemic and achieving SDGs. We need a robust global and national SDG framework which will make it easier for the state, the civil society and private players, including the corporate world, to invest and contribute in this collective effort. 

  • This will involve a mechanism to be put in for de-risking; so that capital can be mobilized, since the capital market will have to play a key role. While public finance will no doubt continue to be an important vehicle for SDGs, innovative financing will have an important role to ensure that the Decade of Action is truly where the action is.

  • India has been driving an array of SDG initiatives, such as National Health Insurance Scheme, National Nutrition Mission and Clean India Mission. Programmes are aimed at universal access to housing, sanitation, quality education, health protection and clean energy, which will improve quality of life especially of the most vulnerable. To give a few examples, since the advent of the 2030 Agenda, we have expanded access to clean cooking fuel to over 85 million households in need; built over 110 million toilets in rural areas to improve sanitation; and added over 420 million bank accounts for the unbanked, the majority of them women.

  • Our food security programmes are successfully addressing issues of malnourishment among children and women. To cope with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, we have announced food security scheme providing food rations for 800 million people and cash transfers to 400 million; and other such measures directly aimed at alleviating the misery of the people.

  • We have also taken ambitious commitments under the Paris Agreement for climate action, which the Prime Minister enunciated as Panchamrit ,5 steadfast commitment including our commitment to reduce carbon intensity of our economy by more than 45% by 2030 and to achieve Net Zero by 2070. In other words, India is Walking the Talk on SDGs.

  • These commitments are built on a leveraging science & technology to achieve a more inclusive and development-oriented future for our citizens.

  • I give you a few examples of how technology has become our best tool in achieving these goals. To enhance data collection at national and local level, we have developed “SDG India Index & Dashboard” using a globally accepted methodology after extensive consultations with civil society. We have charted out a STI for SDGs Roadmaps in India, which would focus on 4 SDGs viz. SDG 2 (Agriculture/nutrition); SDG 3 (Health and wellbeing), SDG 6 (Water and Sanitation) and SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy).

  • India is tapping into low carbon sunrise sectors, new technology frontiers such as green hydrogen, new business models such as digitalised services & EV charging; new construction materials like low-carbon cement and recycled plastic; and promoting circular economy and new practices for sustainable agriculture and food systems. We have some of the largest and fastest growing programs for climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience.

  • India ranks 4th in terms of installed renewable energy, installed wind power capacity and 5th in solar, an increase of 13 times in the last six years. Share of non-fossil sources in India's installed capacity of electricity has grown to more than 38 percent now. We would like to visualize ourselves as an inspiration for Clean Energy Transition across the world.

  • Transfer of green technologies and know-how is key to enhancing adaptation and mitigation measures. Global action on climate change is contingent on the delivery of finance. The commitment of the goal of US$ 100 billion per year by 2020 committed by developed countries has not yet been met.  However, the challenges lie in access to viable cutting-edge technologies at affordable costs.

  • Technological innovations are now impacting every facet of human life be it health, livelihood, education, transport or entertainment. Apart from enhancing inclusion, transparency and efficiency in services provided by the government, technology can be used to shape a digital public goods eco-system that enables private companies and Start-ups to innovate at the grassroots.

  • Being a global leader in IT & Software, through transformative policies under Digital India Programme, India has been successful in delivering people-centric solutions.

  • India now has over a billion bank accounts including more than 300 million Jandhan bank accounts for citizens left out earlier, 1.25 billion persons with AADHAAR, a unique national digital identity and more than 1.2 billion mobile subscribers. The combination of Jandhan, AADHAAR and Mobile, popularly known as J-A-M Trinity, has transformed access to government services and taken social benefits to more than a billion persons in India, including those who are residing in the remotest of locations. Through these public digital platforms, India has conclusively demonstrated the effectiveness of Digital Public Goods (DPGs) as a shared national resource.

  • During the pandemic , we have seen how science and technology have had a direct, tangible impact on lives right from developing vaccines to delivering them. Made in India vaccines have enables us to run one of the world’s largest vaccination program under which we have administered 1.8 billion doses of covid19 vaccines, till date, while supplying 167 million covid vaccine doses to other developing countries.

  • Co-WIN App developed in India, which is an open platform for management of registration, appointment scheduling, managing vaccination and certification, has helped to integrate the entire gamut of services related to COVID-19 vaccination drive.

  • By enabling effective monitoring of utilization and coverage of vaccination, Co-WIN has also helped us reduce wastage and allocate our resources in an optimal manner. Digital vaccination certificates are instantly available to the citizens immediately after the vaccination.

  • Under the South-South cooperation, India has been sharing its experience and expertise with development partners around the world. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has already announced India’s readiness to make Co-WIN platform available globally for interested countries.

  • Strengthened technological cooperation between member states through transfer of technology and capacity building is key to deliver on the promises of sustainable development.

  • I am certain that today’s dialogue will help motivate us and guide us to remain committed in our task of making a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the 2030 Agenda.