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Global TA on UN’s agenda

How can technology assessment help to reach the United Nations sustainability goals? At the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), ITAS scientist Miltos Ladikas reported on the goal to establish a worldwide TA network.
ITAS scientist Miltos Ladikas
ITAS scientist Miltos Ladikas (Source: ITAS / archive)
(Source: UNCTAD CC BY-SA 4.0)

“Global problems require global solutions,” Miltos Ladikas is convinced. In his opinion, the attempt to solve urgent challenges and reach the United Nations sustainability goals is also closely linked to science and technology. According to the ITAS researcher, technology assessment (TA) could be an important tool here to anticipate the economic, social, and environmental impacts and adopt the right development paths.

The scientist holding a doctorate in social psychology outlined his idea of how this contribution could look in detail at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva at the invitation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Global initiative for good TA practice

As a problem-oriented approach for the assessment of new technologies and the strategic course of research policy, TA could develop constructive and sustainable options for society and politics, Ladikas explained in his talk. In this way, TA could help to shape the often fundamental impacts of scientific and technological developments in the interest of the people.

However, so far technology assessment is too strongly aligned to the socio-economic conditions of developed societies in Europe. On this account, leading TA institutions from Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands have recently launched a global initiative to reach an international consensus on the basic elements of good TA practice and provide the basis for a joint analysis of key technologies. The initiative cooperates with partners in, e.g., Australia, China, India, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, and the US.

Resolution encourages governments to use TA processes

As a result of the conference, the United Nations Economic and Social Council included “technology assessment” in its current resolution on science, technology, and innovation for development. The paper appeals to governments worldwide to use TA to create a common understanding of all societal actors of the impacts of a rapid technological change. (03.06.2019)

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