Minister Virolainen's speech at UNGA side event Accelerate2030: How to nurture innovation ecosystems and cultivate innovation for the SDGs
Speech by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen at the UN General Assembly side event Accelerate 2030: How to nurture innovation ecosystems and cultivate innovation for the SDGs. The speech was given 26 September 2018.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Today’s joint event by UNDP, ITC (International Trade Centre), Impact Hub Network, Switzerland and Finland is an exciting opportunity for discussing social innovation and entrepreneurship as means for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The agenda today highlights the role of innovation ecosystems in harnessing local innovation potential and generating solutions that advance the key Agenda 2030 principle of leaving no-one behind. These topics are dear to Finland and also central to our development policy.
The global challenges of our time from climate change to inequality create a growing need for social innovation particularly in the developing world. We need solutions to pressing local problems, advancing human rights, social and economic inclusion and creating decent jobs for all. Social entrepreneurs bring up solutions in sectors such as healthcare, education, financial services and agriculture.
The nature of the global challenges demands accountability to the promise of the Agenda 2030 to address exclusion. Elements of gender equality, disability inclusion and the principle of non-discrimination need to be integral considerations throughout innovation ecosystems.
Finland is commonly regarded as one of the world’s most innovative countries. This has not happened overnight, but over decades, through our long-term investments in education, research and innovation. Furthermore, it is based on our commitment to socio-economic and gender equality as well as a long-standing culture of collaboration.
We are famous for our social innovations such as the Finnish maternity and child health clinic system and the maternity package or “baby box”. These innovations were created already in the 1940’s and they have had, and continue to have, a key role in ensuring that all infants and mothers receive a high level of maternity and infant care. Our history of social innovation is as important as our technological know-how.
Finland has also been one of the countries spearheading innovation in development cooperation. Our first bi-lateral programmes in the area started over ten years ago. We place emphasis on building local capacities and collaboration for innovation. The UN is for us today a key innovation partner.
The key question of social entrepreneurship is to create collaboration mechanisms for scaling innovations globally. Working towards deeper understanding and wider application of sustainable and inclusive business practices is also essential. I would like to applaud Accelerate2030 and the other co-organizers today for valuable work on these fronts.
Finland is proud to host the world’s first UN Technology Innovation Lab. UNTIL Finland, which will form part of a larger network of Labs, aims to harness the Finnish innovation ecosystem and the UN’s global reach in creating scalable, high-impact technological solutions in the fields of health, education, peace and security, and circular economy. We want to see UNTIL Finland as a truly global innovation platform. I would thus like to warmly invite partners here today to explore joint initiatives within the Lab.
Finally, thank you to UNDP for the opportunity to co-organize this inspiring event – I am looking forward to the interesting and important agenda ahead.