Innovation Matters is a new UNECE podcast series that explores how innovation, or experimentation with ideas to create value, is changing our world and could drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the UNECE region and beyond.
As UNECE member states work to progress towards sustainable development goals, the importance of innovation as a leading driver has grown. Systematically trying out new ideas to create value, govern, and organize society to the benefit of all is essential to find out what works and what does not. These ideas are especially important to address potential challenges and trade-offs, such as the need to reduce poverty while protecting the environment and sustainably using valuable resources.
Innovation is transforming our societies swiftly and affecting a range of sectors and segments of society. Many foresee within the near future a radically different world where large swathes of economic activity have been automated, where autonomous, electric vehicles have made our cars obsolete, and where physical barriers to work have almost disappeared. This, of course, creates enormous opportunities – but also poses challenges, especially for UNECE member states with economies in transition. People are increasingly worried about rising inequality, the decline of steady employment and perhaps even most low- and medium-skilled jobs, and the concentration of power and influence among the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple. As the COVID-19 pandemic has alerted us to risks ahead and constrained the already limited financial resources that many UNECE countries have, countries face, now more than before, the imperative to promote innovation and to do so efficiently.