SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Transformative Innovation Policy at the UN Commission

Academics from SPRU have been working with the UN Commission on Science and Technology in regards to new innovation approaches to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNCTAD report cover: NEW INNOVATION APPROACHES TO SUPPORT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALSDr Adrian Ely aided the Commission as the academic lead for a recent report on ‘New innovation approaches to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals’, which was published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in April 2017.

Drawing on inputs from various national governments and UN agencies, it incorporates contributions from Professors Jo Chataway and Adrian Smith, alongside colleagues from the STEPS Centre 'Pathways to Sustainability' global consortium. The report was a key item on the session agenda at the United Nations’ Commission on Science and Technology, at its twentieth session in Geneva on 10 May 2017.

Professor Johan Schot, Director of SPRU, also presented his work on Transformative Innovation Policy to the Commission at its twentieth session.

In the panel presentation and discussion, Professor Schot argued that this new framing of innovation policy fundamentally challenges long-held assumptions on how the innovation process produces growth, productivity and progress.

TIPC infographic UNClick to view infographic

Professor Schot said: 

“Innovation will have to be transformative. The crucial issue is how to integrate a social and environmental agenda into science, technology and innovation policies. This should not become an administrative exercise, but one that focuses on enabling change on the ground, facilitating large scale societal experimentation, social and inclusive innovation. ‘Innovation for Transformation’ needs to become a movement.”

These interventions build on a long-standing relationship between the work of SPRU and the UN Commission on Science and Technology, following in the path of previous SPRU colleagues - in particular SPRU’s previous Director, Geoff Oldham, who was also a former chair of the Commission.

Further information

Read more about Transformative Innovation Policy on the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium website.

Read UNCTAD’s report: ‘New innovation approaches to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals