Fostering Technological Industries in Developing States


Fostering Technological Industries in Developing States

Development is constantly fueled by innovation. The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) often has coinciding and mutually reinforcing goals with other UN bodies; for example, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is mandated to reduce poverty using sustainable industrial development.

This body defined industrial development as the source from which “all countries should have the opportunity to grow a flourishing productive sector, to increase their participation in international trade and to safeguard their environment. CSTD has refined and adopted this mandate to focus specifically on technological industry development, a topic that continues to require attention throughout the developing world. Technology, or the development of technology, is the force that drives human development and innovation. States further work to be more economically stable, sufficient, and strong. 

The desire for efficiency has fuelled industrial development, and more recently technological industrial development and innovation. Technological innovations allow entire factories to run completely unmanned and have allowed scientists to map the entire human genome. These innovations are but a few that have been made in the last few decades and new discoveries continue to be patented every day. This trend in innovation has held true for the last 40 years, and demonstrates the amazing rate of technological development and advancement. 

For developing states, technology and industry hold the key to economic development and the ability to compete in the world economy. There are many models for development, often inspired by what developing countries have done before. Some models were influenced by the rise of countries like China, which used heavy industry to produce goods in large quantities, while others look to emulate countries like Singapore and Taiwan, which were able to discover previously untapped niches in the market.

The methods used by former developing countries are not guaranteed models for success, but can be used as an example of how other developing countries can advance and industrialize. Though this goal seems straightforward, there are many mishaps that can potentially hinder success. For example, joint ventures are a hopeful endeavour and a great method for development, but have also been plagued with problems. As developing states race to capitalize on the use of technology as an advantage, there is huge potential for disaster, including the use of faulty materials, cutting corners, and violations of internationally recognized practices, rules, and norms. All of this different phase must be taken into consideration when approaching this agenda.

HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE ISSUE

Various types of technology have risen in prominence as a result of efforts made to further technological advancement in developing states. For example, nanotechnology is an area of development that has recently produced new products like Aero gel, a material that can absorb 900 times its own weight in oil. Nanotechnology also has applications in the construction of a space elevator, the discovery of new cancer treatments, and the development of faster and more efficient electric and Internet cables.

Nanotechnology is just one example of the scientific developments shaping the future of technological industries that must be addressed in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the topic. This topic not only deals with the issues present in the technological industry, but also the methods in which such technology can be developed. Some of the methods that foster the creation of new industries and companies within developing countries include joint ventures, FDI, and domestic innovation.

Technological Industry and the Internet

The Internet has taken on an incredibly important role in the development of technological industry; thus it is important to understand how states can use the Internet to spur development. The first World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) was held in Geneva in 2003, and was one of two meetings held by the UN to discuss communications, information, and information society. This summit was created in response to UN Resolution 56/183, which recognized a multitude of key issues, but namely those involving the pivotal role of technology and information in development, and the position the UN have in facilitating its spread and accessibility.

The mission of the WSIS is to create an “Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.”Full implementation of this initiative can be very beneficial to all states as the spread of the technological industry directly assists in sharing knowledge and technology, while also providing other benefits like improving living standards. 

Although this summit did not result in a framework for Internet governance, other efforts have been made toward achieving this goal. The Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) published a report in 2005 that proposed a definition and guidelines for the role that Internet governance should have, as well as recommendations for potential ways to achieve these goals moving forward. Nevertheless, any rules that govern the use of the Internet have dramatic potential to be beneficial or detrimental to technological development.

China for example, has implemented strict Internet censorship, which has greatly limited the freedom of its civilians. The “great firewall” as it is called, is one among many methods that the Chinese government uses to control material and content accessible to its citizens. Such tactics are meant to squash political dissidence, and there has been harsh international criticism against this regulation. This level of governmental oversight has a stifling impact on both the domestic as well as the international technological industry within a developing country. This exemplifies the great asset of the Internet, but also the possible threats that it harbours. States must therefore determine how governmental oversight will ultimately affect Internet governance. 

States have taken further action to address the lack of sufficient technological advancement in developing countries. In 2005, the second WSIS gathered in Tunis, Tunisia to continue discussions. This conference further developed the progress made by the first meeting in Geneva by establishing the Tunis Commitment, Tunis Agenda for Information Society, and the Internet Governance Forum. The Tunis Commitment reaffirmed many of the goals and aspirations made in the declaration of principles in Geneva. Signatories pledged their continued support for issues like bridging the digital divide, proliferation of information and communication technology (ICT), and improving access to these resources. The authors of this document also pledged to pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, or groups with special needs, as well as populations in developing, conflict stricken countries, or those affected by natural disasters. By casting a wide net, and pledging to protect people of all backgrounds and cultures, the resolution has become stronger and more comprehensive.

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