Rio+20 must radically rethink innovation

March 27, 2012

A radical new approach to innovation is urgently needed to ensure a fair and green economy and avoid reversing progress made on global poverty reduction, according to leading scientists.

Ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, the ESRC STEPS Centre calls on negotiators to rethink the way science and innovation can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are likely to emerge from Rio.

Rio+20 is a golden opportunity to enhance the role that science, technology and innovation of many kinds can play in building an environmentally sustainable and socially just green economy at a global level.

"The stakes are too high at Rio+20 for a business-as-usual approach," said Professor Melissa Leach, director of the STEPS Centre. "We are pushing up against planetary boundaries that are near, or already past, breaking point. Science, technology and innovation can help avert catastrophic developmental and environmental damage. But only if we move beyond outdated notions of whose innovation counts, to recognise the vital role different forms of innovation can play."

"We would like to see Rio+20 provide a global framework supporting different forms of innovation that address sustainable development challenges at local, national and global levels. Beyond setting targets, this is about enabling the grassroots and enhancing innovation capabilities for the longer-term" added Dr. Adrian Ely, STEPS Centre head of impact and engagement.

The STEPS Centre has drawn up a set of recommendations for ways in which Rio+20 could pay attention not just to the 20-lane innovation 'superhighways' carved out by high-tech and well-financed industries, but to the bush-paths and mountain-trails of grassroots innovation trodden by less high-profile users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and small businesses.

Recommendations - submitted to the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document - cover five areas for action: agenda setting; funding; capacity building; organising; and monitoring, evaluation and accountability. Recommendations include: Our vision is a world where science and technology work more directly for social justice, poverty alleviation and the environment. What this means for particular contexts, places and people will be enormously varied - as will be the means to achieve it. Nevertheless, we believe our recommendations can catalyse and provoke specific concrete actions to help achieve this vision.

Institute of Development Studies

Related Innovation Articles from Brightsurf:

Food system innovation -- and how to get there
Food production has always shaped the lives of humans and the surface of the Earth.

What is the best way to encourage innovation? Competitive pay may be the answer
Economists and business leaders agree that innovation is a major force behind economic growth, but many disagree on what is the best way to encourage workers to produce the 'think-outside-of-the-box' ideas that create newer and better products and services.

Innovation is widespread in rural areas, not just cities
Conventional measures of innovation suggest that only big cities foster new ideas, but a more comprehensive measure developed at Penn State shows that innovation is widespread even in rural places not typically thought of as innovative.

Scaling up search for analogies could be key to innovation
Investment in research is at an all-time high, yet the rate of scientific breakthroughs isn't setting any records.

Why you should be concerned about Oprah Winfrey when introducing an innovation
New research by Bocconi University's Paola Cillo and Gaia Rubera with Texas A&M's David Griffith asserts that the reaction of large individual investors to innovation is an important component of stock returns, their reaction to innovation depends on their national culture, and there is a way to segment large individual investors and pitch innovation to them accordingly.

Responsible innovation key to smart farming
Responsible innovation that considers the wider impacts on society is key to smart farming, according to academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Pillars of academic innovation
Highlights from the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, including high-tech solutions to combat child pornography and radicalization materials; groundbreaking programs to promote STEM major retention; and new materials for wearable technology.

Universities drive innovation in the classroom
The current issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors ® (19.2) examines innovation from the university perspective, highlighting what the most innovative institutions and educators worldwide are doing to prepare future engineers and industry leaders to effectively manage IP to grow their companies and the global economy as a whole.

How universities are fostering innovation and entrepreneurship
Technology and Innovation 19.1 zeroes in on innovation and entrepreneurship, with a special focus on what universities are currently doing to foster growth in those areas both for their success and the success of the communities and regions to which they are connected.

Shaping the future of health innovation
Future advances in healthcare will be aided by a new £10 million facility -- the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory based at Newcastle University, UK.

Read More: Innovation News and Innovation Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to