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Research-based knowledge, innovation and new technology are of fundamental importance for achieving the SDGs and ensuring that no one is left behind.
On my visits to least developed countries, I have seen many expressions of the well-known proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
The creativity, adaptability and solution-orientation needed for innovation are flourishing in the least developed countries. What is often lacking is partnerships that can provide necessary resources and create further avenues for this innovative and entrepreneurial drive.
In Norwegian development policy, digitalisation is key enabler for broad inclusion and for ensuring that no one is left behind. The most marginalized today risk falling further behind if they don’t become digital citizens.
We have to ensure that the most marginalized and the least developed countries are able to take advantage of the vast opportunities offered by digitalisation.
Norway champions digital inclusion through our work on digital public goods. Digital public goods can help the most vulnerable people in the world to improve their quality of life. Digital public goods can help the least developed countries to take huge leaps forward in important areas such as health, education, financial services, agriculture and climate adaptation.
For example, the Norwegian-managed open-source District Health Information System 2 is helping health ministries, health clinics, and other health institutions to do their jobs better. This free platform is now in use in over 100 countries and has a global footprint of 2.3 billion people.
The transfer of solutions, methods, techniques and ideas from one area of industry to another can often pave the way for innovative solutions.
New partnerships that cut across traditional sector and industry divisions are important enablers of innovation. In addition, radically new ideas can emerge in the interplay between actors who traditionally have not collaborated. However, establishing these partnerships may be challenging – and good support mechanisms are needed to help them get started.
Norway is fostering partnerships of this kind through a range of efforts, such as the Vision 2030 mechanism, Enterprise Development for Jobs, and strategic partnerships on framework conditions.
Norway also supports efforts to strengthen the scientific research base in developing countries through capacity-building programmes in research and higher education. We give direct support to research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, and we support universities in low- and middle-income countries to develop master and PhD programmes.
The least developed countries are a priority in Norwegian development cooperation. Norway is a proud contributor to the establishment of the Technology Bank. We are encouraged to see the commitment and pledges from Turkey and from the least developed countries. Now that the Technology Bank has become operational, significant pledges from a broader base of donors with a long-term perspective are needed in order to meet the Bank’s budget requirements for full operational capacity.
At the same time, solid partnerships with the private sector, research institutions and civil society are needed in order for the least developed countries to make good use of the opportunities presented by science and technology,
We look forward to following the progress of the Technology Bank in the time ahead.