4th Development Policy Roundtable

CPPS in collaboration with the CSO-SDG Alliance organised it’s fourth Development Policy Roundtable on 28th September 2017 at the PAUM Clubhouse, Kuala Lumpur. The theme for the fourth roundtable is ‘Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals’.

Participants heard from three distinguished speakers include Tan Sri Omar Abdul Rahman, President, Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies (FASAS) and the Former National Science Advisor; Dato’ Dr Lee Yee Cheong, Commissioner of UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, and Dr Noriah Jamal, Director, Planning & International Relations Division, Agensi Nuklear Malaysia (Nuklear Malaysia). Datuk Dr Denison, Co-Chairman of the SDO-SDG Alliance, moderated the discussion and started off by pointing out that efforts with the SDGs underline many environmental issues, such as the plight of indigenous people, their land rights, and going down to their water sources to understand the flooding issues which are linked to forest conservation. Such breakthroughs are much sought and it was hoped that the entire field of science, technology and innovation (STI) can be employed to achieve the ultimate goals in innovation.

Tan Sri Omar opined that Malaysia remains a long way from creating the critical mass of STI policy and management professionals. The International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) is one of the main training programmes which involves government officials hailing from all over the globe. An enhancement of existing initiatives is clearly needed and this can be done by extending the programme into internal training programmes where a good number of organisations can join, hence achieving the required critical mass. Finally, a robust framework for STI cooperation and collaboration is highly recommended as the logical choice to ensure success. Effective and meaningful cooperation and collaboration can only transpire if the global goals coincide with national priorities.

Dato’ Lee spoke about the 4th Industrial Revolution, arguing that it is merely a continuation of the 3rd Industrial Revolution with the emergence of information and communications technology (ICT) leading to the current Digital Revolution. He highlighted concerns of job losses that accompanying increased digitalisation and automation. Hence, there is the need for the re-training and re-skilling of the workforce. tendency to assume the subject of science as natural science and the job of engineers but oftentimes exclude social scientists. Within any discussion of STI, people cannot forget that social scientists and many other parties are also committed to the SDGs. The STI industry is incredibly broad and includes economics, finance and history.

Dr Noriah explained how nuclear science is able to contribute to several pillars of the SDG initiatives with various applications apart from the provision of clean energy, such as nuclear medicine, and water sanitation. However, this requires the alignment of national policies and the coordination of all national frameworks to include the STI agenda to realise SDG initiatives. However, there was still much misunderstanding and opposite towards the use of nuclear power, which was unfortunate. Opponents of nuclear power fail to realise that the technology is being used in aircraft carriers and submarines globally, yet there were no protest against them. The fact is that nuclear power has become much safer since the Fukushima incident. To achieve the target of minimising carbon emissions, a re-examination of nuclear energy must be conducted. Good governance is required for nuclear technology to be feasible.
The realisation of the SDGs will constantly require more interaction between activists in youth work, environmental work and the scientific community. Though each field has been working in isolation, the alliance provides a platform for open and passionate discussion for the well-being of society such as basic needs, quality of life, and good governance. This is an important point that science and technology can enhance, which is why we need to attract the scientific community to work with activists.

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