My country, New Zealand, has long recognised the importance of science, technology, and innovation as key drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness.
Our prosperity has been built primarily by the hard work of our farmers; and most of our exports are, and will remain, from the agricultural sector. But nothing stands still. We are very aware of the opportunities and the challenges presented by agricultural development, and of the roles that science, technology, and innovation play in keeping us competitive in that field - but also of their equally important role in our broader efforts to diversify.
New Zealand recognises that it must continue to develop better linkages with international markets, and be an ever-stronger player in research and development.
In its most recent Budget, the Government increased funding for science and innovation to help our businesses to grow, to deliver more and higher-paying jobs, and to improve our living standards.
We share those aspirations with all countries and with all peoples. Indeed, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were conceived with the aim of improving lives and lifting people out of poverty. Substantial progress has been made, with a positive impact on billions of lives; as a result of those efforts, the human condition improves. But much remains to be done to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
Moreover, many of these same themes are re-emerging in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda, and in the Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We need a renewed development agenda which not only builds on the MDGs, but also takes a more comprehensive approach, integrating all three dimensions of sustainable development - social, economic, and environmental.
Both the recent report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda and the most recent meeting of the SDG working group have highlighted employment and the need for decent jobs. But those jobs will not be created in a vacuum. They will not come without economic development; and science, technology, and innovation are important tools for driving that development.
Economic development can grow from public-private partnerships, particularly by encouraging university-industry linkages which are critical to innovation and to translating raw knowledge into viable enterprise.
For obvious reasons, New Zealand takes a close interest in international efforts focused on agricultural development and improving food security, including efforts in the climate change context.
Climate change and acidification impact our oceans and the availability of fish stocks on which many people, notably our own Pacific island neighbours, depend for their food, their livelihoods and their prosperity.
Using innovation and technology alongside local knowledge, it is possible to increase both productivity and production in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The challenge is to ensure that agricultural production systems are climate resilient. New Zealand was instrumental in setting up the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which involves collaborative research, building capability in agricultural science to meet the challenges of climate change and enhanced, sustainable production of food .
Our contribution to the Alliance includes a new programme, fully funded by New Zealand, for farmers from other Alliance member states to visit us and share experiences and discuss technology transfer needs relating to the on-farm application of research into agricultural greenhouse gases. They will exchange experiences with our farming and agricultural science sectors, share new and potential research and farm management practices, and address the implications for their own farms, back home. This builds on New Zealand’s long-standing record of successfully sharing our agricultural expertise. We encourage other states to consider joining the Alliance.
An open and transparent trading system is also important to post-2015 development. The further liberalisation of agricultural trade under the WTO’s Doha Round remains a top priority for New Zealand, not least the removal of agricultural subsidies which distort markets and incentivise unsustainable production methods.
Science, technology, and innovation also play central roles in relation to sustainable energy. Delivering practical renewable energy is one of the highest development priorities in our own Pacific region. Pacific Island countries have abundant renewable energy resources, including solar and wind; but fossil fuels still meet over 80 percent of their electricity needs.
In March 2013, New Zealand and the EU hosted a Pacific Energy Summit, co-sponsored by Australia, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to provide a platform for Pacific Island countries to translate “energy talk” into "energy action", by putting Pacific Leaders, their energy roadmaps, and 79 renewable energy and energy efficiency project proposals in the same room as major donors.
As was outlined in this morning’s Implementation Forum that Summit resulted in funding commitments of USD 500m, to be invested in more than 40 of those projects. New Zealand’s own commitment of $65m will fund 18 projects in six countries. These follow on from our world-first experience of working with Tokelau to meet over 90 percent of its electricity from renewables.
Investment in cultural activities and industries can also have positive development outcomes. New Zealand has built a NZ$18.6 billion tourism industry based in part on cultural services and products. We also support cultural tourism in developing countries particularly in the Pacific. Over the next five years, we plan to invest over NZ$45 million in developing tourism sectors in Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands, to increase tourism-related income, improve returns to businesses, and generate more local employment.
As we begin our work on the new High Level Political Forum on sustainable development, as we reform and strengthen the Economic and Social Council, and as we develop the post-2015 agenda and SDGs, we must ensure that science, technology, innovation, and culture are part of those discussions. And building on its practical experience, New Zealand stands ready to continue its role in achieving those objectives and sharing that experience with others.