01/12/2021 – Manufacturing / Industrialisation / Digital / Summit / Climate / Infrastructure / UAE
UN President calls on developed countries to invest in climate-friendly tech, digital infrastructure to kick-start equitable recovery
Developed nations have a responsibility to assist the technological advancement of more vulnerable nations, to enhance their connectivity and capacity to innovate, while also helping them transition to greener economies. This was the call from H.E. Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly, speaking at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2021).
Speaking during the second day of GMIS – at the outset of a session entitled ‘Government of the future: A new roadmap to global prosperity’ – Shahid highlighted the stark discrepancies in technological capacity between the global North and South that have exacerbated the challenges faced by developing nations in their attempts to recover from the pandemic.
In what he described as his “presidency of hope”, the UNGA President said: “I will do my utmost to ensure that we not only recover better and sustainably, but we also do so equitably with no one left behind.
“Covid-19 caused massive disruption in manufacturing and supply chains,” His Excellency continued, “but this [discrepancy] was on the horizon before Covid-19 and was mainly driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, climate change, and the reconfiguration of globalisation.
“The good news is 4IR technologies are playing a major role when it comes to cutting emissions, water and material consumption, and the optimisation of waste management,” he pointed out, going on to call on countries to “invest in climate-friendly technologies that will spur recovery efforts by respecting our planet’s health, and share these technologies with developing countries.
Strong need to “reach out to communities wherever they are”
In the panel discussion that followed, the themes of equitable development and the role of technology were picked up by Her Excellency Dr Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of Namibia. She highlighted the issue of delivering government services in a country so vast yet with just 2.5 million people, and how technology can provide both a solution and a challenge.
“For Namibia, the need to use a digital platform didn’t only come with the Covid-19 pandemic, maybe it was amplified by it because we went into lockdown, so we needed to provide services online. But it’s a huge country of 824,000 sq. km and quite expensive to reach out to communities wherever they are with government services. We had therefore already decided to automate government services to improve government administration,” said H.E. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
With Manufacturing 5.0 tech, “we could come back stronger”
For His Excellency Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister of Italy, the Covid-19 pandemic provided a stress-test for governments and for health systems – and he noted that in many countries in the world, especially those considered liberal democracies, such institutions were found wanting. “Don’t believe people that say the leadership is the same everywhere – no. With good leadership, you have very good answers to the pandemic, with bad leadership you risk too much.”
Nonetheless, Mr Renzi did identify positives from the last year and a half – and remarked that technology could emerge as a driver. “I think it’s important we use new technology with a different approach,” he said. “I joke a lot of the time that my generation use the mobile as a phone. Then when we arrive with a phone used for pictures, for video, for surfing the internet, the new generation use the device not with a click, but with a zoom. They enlarge the screen and understand well what has happened.
“That’s my final message from this pandemic, we have to pass from click to zoom. ‘Manufacturing 5.0’, new technology – these new ideas are the future of my country, and they could be helped by Covid. Covid was a tragedy that destroyed a lot of life, but we could come back stronger than before.”
“We cannot impose tech on people without their consent”
Finally, His Excellency Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister of France, touched upon how technology has immense potential for governments – but in Western societies, trust and consensus is a huge component that needs to be respected. “The citizen in liberal democracies do have a say, and they must be a part of the decision-making process. And that’s where technology must always deal with the question of trust,” he stressed. “We cannot impose technology on people without their consent –they need to understand why it is being applied; you need to be able to discuss and convince.”
Under the theme “Rewiring Societies: Repurposing Digitalisation for Prosperity,” the second day of #GMIS2021 jump-started with great success, bringing together key global leaders from government, business, and civil society to discuss how data and connectivity are shaping the future of the manufacturing sector.
Established in 2015 as a joint initiative by the UAE and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) aims to build bridges between manufacturers, governments and NGOs, technologists, and investors in harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) transformation of manufacturing to enable global economic regeneration.