Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Technology has been heralded as a key means of implementation for sustainable development. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution evolves, technologies – such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things – are re-shaping our economies, societies and the environment. Digital trade and finance are opening economic opportunities. From a social perspective, digital healthcare and education are providing cost effective solutions at scale; and smart cities, energy and transport are offering alternative models for protecting the environment.

However, the wave of optimism surrounding the transformative potential of technology has been tempered by increasing concerns about challenges which could hinder our ambition of sustainable development. Notably, there is a risk that the Fourth Industrial Revolution could widen technological inequality. While the Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the most innovative countries in the world, it is also home to some of the most technologically deprived. It will be critical for countries to work together so that no one is left behind in this technological revolution.

In this context, this inaugural Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum is an important platform to enhance and facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration among member States, the United Nations system and relevant stakeholders.

Going forward, there is an opportunity to combine the collective knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region to chart the path towards sustainable development. While technology-driven change is certain, the direction is not, and the Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum has a critical role to play to support member States to chart our technology-driven future together.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Under-Secretary General of the United Nations

and Executive Secretary of ESCAP