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2030 Agenda: ST&I must promote social inclusion

André Costa (CCS)

"Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) in the health sector must incorporate the foundations of social inclusion, the appropriate use of natural resources and the integration of policies to achieve effectiveness in their interventions". With these words, the manager of the area of Sustainable Development and Environmental Health of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and international adviser of the Fiocruz Global Health Center, Luiz Augusto Galvão, made the balance of the conclusions of the second day of the international consultation on science, technology and innovation in the implementation of Agenda 2030, promoted by Fiocruz in partnership with several UN agencies and programs, and held in Rio de Janeiro from 6 to 8 November.

Evaluating the balance of the first two days of the event, the coordinator of the center, Paulo Buss, said that the results of the debates, which should now be systematized in a document that will be sent as a contribution to the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation of the United Nations, must reach "the scientific community, managers and civil society". This measure, Buss said, will help in global, regional and national coordination, which should help mitigate the "fractionation of knowledge", one of the points identified by him as deserving of attention.

The researcher highlighted the theme of the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been pointed out in the debates as problematic because they are vague or unspecific. It was common ground in the talks that many countries, especially the least developed countries, have no records or databases capable of monitoring the implementation of the Agenda..

Regarding the issue of indicators, the regional advisor on epidemiology of PAHO, Oscar Mujíca, stated that "there is not a single indicator that accounts for the ability of countries to leave no one behind", referring to the Agenda slogan. Still on this matter, the coordinator of Fiocruz Strategy for Agenda 2030, Paulo Gadelha, stressed that "if there is no capacity for generation, gathering and processing of data, we will not be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the policies adopted". 

The coordinator of the Fiocruz Strategy for the 2030 Agenda, Paulo Gadelha, highlighted that there's a "need for a public appropriation of knowledge about Agenda 2030 and an engagement of the population."

Gadelha also drew attention to "an essential point, very present in the Brazilian tradition": the need for a "public appropriation of knowledge about Agenda 2030 and an engagement of the population. As long as it is not an active protagonist in understanding and directing policies and actions, we will be in a rhetorical field without rooting and consequences". 

In the considerations that closed the day of discussions, Galvão, responsible for presenting a summary of what was discussed, highlighted four recurring elements in the debates related to ST&I in 2030 Agenda: 1) It is necessary to appropriate the power of the ST&I to achieve the SDGs; 2) There needs to be mobilization, engagement and convergence of actions to accomplish the agenda; 3) Incentive mechanisms are needed for the creation and dissemination of ST&I for SDGS; 4) The means of governance and policy funding related to Agenda 2030 need to be better defined. Regarding the appropriation of ST&I for Agenda 2030, Galvão encouraged governments "to regulate, encourage and even create markets related to the economic complex of ST&I and health towards the SDGs." 

This recommendation that governments use their purchasing power to stimulate the science, technology and innovation sector was largely based on the intervention of Fiocruz's Prospecting Action Coordinator, Carlos Gadelha, who spoke about the economic and industrial complex of health. According to data presented, the health sector is characterized by inequalities between nations and between the public and private sector - for example, 61% of patents in biotechnology are concentrated by 15 global companies.

According to the researcher, this guarantees these companies a huge political pressure that must be fought in the name of the public good. "Agenda 2030 needs to generate mitigation mechanisms that act to limit existing asymmetries. It is not acceptable that there are non-purchaseable technologies. The power of the market is such that the European Union and Mercosur today are unable to use public purchasing power to stimulate innovation - this would make a decisive factor for innovation, which is the guarantee of the market", he commented.

The second day also featured lectures on innovation by the director of Oracle Health Sciences, Summerpal Kahlon; on the universal access to water, by José Vieira, from the University of Minho; of health technologies, by Gabriela Prada, a health advisor from Canada; a prospective analysis of the world in 2050, by the representative of the International Institute for Applied Research (IAASA), Neboja Nakicenovic; an intervention on the importance of social, economic and demographic factors of SDGS, by Fiocruz researcher Maurício Barreto; on traditional knowledge, by the president of the Center for Autonomy and Development of the Indigenous Population of Nicaragua, Myrna Cunninham; and on the search for equality in health, by the representative of Opas, Oscar Mujica.

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