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G-Stic Rio discusses impacts of the pandemic and lack of access to healthcare


Flávia Ribeiro and Rafael Veras (G-Stic)


The challenges of international cooperation, the opportunities for the transition to a low-carbon economy and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic were some of the themes that guided the discussions after the first plenary of the 6th Global Conference on Innovation and Sustainability (2023 G-Stic), which began this Monday (2/13) and runs until February 15 at Expo Mag, in Rio de Janeiro. The event, co-hosted by Fiocruz, gathers around 200 speakers and promises to be a catalyst for dialogue and spaces for the sharing of knowledge among specialists, professionals in the field of innovation and sustainability, academia, students, government, the private sector and civil society.

The 6th World Innovation and Sustainability Conference - G-Stic 2023 began on February 13 (photo: Eduardo Napoli / Gopala Filmes)

The first day of G-Stic Rio plenary sessions and discussions highlighted how issues related to science, technology development and more sustainable production models are increasingly interdependent. The "Leave no one behind" motto, created in 2015 by the UN, which began guiding the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), was often directing the discussions.

Acting president of Fiocruz, Mário Moreira, highlighted that Latin America has a high potential for scientific development, as well as that the transfer of social technology is one of the great contributions that Brazil can make within the current global scenario. “Fiocruz actively participates in the discussion on technology and innovation in the 2030 Agenda and is recognized as the hub of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the development and production of vaccines using messenger RNA technology in Latin America”, he commented.

Fiocruz president Mario Moreira highlighted the importance of the global discussion on vaccine property rights (photo: Eduardo Napoli / Gopala Filmes)

Mário Moreira also stressed the importance of the global discussion on vaccine property rights, which Fiocruz understands to be a public asset. Around 4.5 million deaths in the world could be avoided if there was a transition to a low-carbon economy, which would avoid the increase in lung diseases due to pollution.

In her opening speech at G-Stic, the Minister of Health and former president of Fiocruz, Nísia Trindade Lima, corroborated the idea defended by Mário Moreira. For Nísia, innovation needs to be at everyone's service. “Our challenge is to make the value of equity also present in the field of science, technology, innovation, and thus this innovation can effectively be at the service of more economical health systems”, she stated.

For the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, innovation needs to be at everyone's service (photo: Eduardo Napoli / Gopala Filmes)

“Nearly eight years from the adoption by the world community of the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals associated with it, the challenges still remain. There is still a long way to go. Essential healthcare services are beyond the reach of at least 50% of the world's population. At least 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Around 840 million people remain without access to electricity. Almost 700 million people do not have access to potable water. It is essential to demarcate these data since, according to the World Health Organization, potable water and vaccines were the major innovations responsible for the increase in life expectancy. Without a systemic view regarding all these data, it would be very difficult for us to achieve the goal of not leaving anyone behind”.

Egalitarian and sustainable future through greater collaboration between countries

The Towards an egalitarian and sustainable future plenary session was inaugurated with a speech by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, who highlighted the importance of cooperation between countries for the increase of equity and sustainability in a global context increasingly challenging due to extreme events. Adhanom participated in the plenary via videoconference directly from Damascus, Syria, where he is visiting regions affected by the earthquake that recently devastated the country.

“The pandemic has wiped out more than 40 years of health progress and pushed millions of people into extreme poverty in 2020. This highlights the importance of developing more resilient health systems. The pandemic has shown everyone the size of our vulnerabilities as a health crisis can quickly escalate into an economic crisis, a social crisis and a political crisis. At least 24 million children are at risk of not returning to school. And health-related goals are still in a very serious situation”, he complements.

"We need to increase the power of innovation and cooperation among all," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom (photo: Eduardo Napoli / Gopala Filmes)

Adhanom stressed that, in the face of challenges such as the current situation, it becomes even more critical for countries to combine efforts in the search for the eradication of diseases, directing efforts towards the development of primary health care systems, the execution of rapid response plans to emergency situations, and in establishing partnerships that are able to develop science aimed at saving lives. “We need to increase the power of innovation and increase cooperation between all, based on the principles of equity, to accelerate the SDG agenda”, adds Adhanom.

The Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Brazil, Ana Beatriz Martins, proposed to discuss a new agreement towards the green economy, which she called the “green new deal”, to faster achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and, consequently, carbon neutrality by 2030. “If we are able to reach this new deal, Europe's competitiveness will grow. Our challenge is to understand how we are going to develop the innovations and technologies that will lead to such development with due climate justice, and with the support of all global authorities and international partnerships in a post-COVID-19 world”.

"We need to overcome the scenario of extreme inequality in access to vaccines", said the coordinator of the Fiocruz Strategy for the 2030 Agenda, Paulo Gadelha (photo: Eduardo Napoli / Gopala Filmes)

Paulo Gadelha, former president of Fiocruz and current coordinator of the Fiocruz Strategy for the 2030 Agenda (EFA 2030), celebrates Brazil's return to a leading position in the discussions on the 2030 Agenda. “We are in a very critical moment worldwide in which the trends that already existed in the global model of unsustainable development were intensified by the same process of exacerbation of the climate matter, by the experience of the pandemic and, at the same time, by the increase of factors such as wars and the decline of multilateralism”, he stated. “The pandemic affected all global processes with repercussions on income and living conditions. We need to overcome the scenario of extreme inequity in access to vaccines and ensure greater distribution of local innovation and production capacity for a quick and effective response to global demands. This is what will lead us to health sovereignty”.

In the 21st century, 2.3 billion people do not have access to adequate food. Clashes between countries like the war in Ukraine are exacerbating this food crisis, and mitigating this impact will require the use of technology and innovation to accelerate the promotion of sustainable agriculture. “In the agricultural sectors, we are experimenting with crops with better genetics and regarding the issue of pest control in crops,” said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

FAO is providing remote advisory support for sustainable land and water use, as well as applying research and innovation together with WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health. Qu Dongyu also commented, during the plenary at the G-Stic, on the challenges surrounding the responsible use of fertilizers and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. “We need to strengthen the relationship with the private sector to leverage the science of innovation and transform the food system into a more efficient process”, he concluded.

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