Dr. Francis Gurry Director General of WIPO,
Distinguished Ministers and speakers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to be invited by my friend and esteemed colleague, Dr. Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, to address this Ministerial Forum on Building a Comprehensive Framework for Promoting Development in LDCs through Innovation and Creativity. In this knowledge era, I consider this theme very timely and valuable in helping chart an alternative and complementary development path for the least developed countries through invention, innovation and creativity. For this, I am extremely grateful to Dr. Gurry and his team for organizing this important event on the sidelines of the UN LDC IV Conference and for bringing our esteemed Ministers in Istanbul to also participate and contribute in the various meetings and events being held here.
Creations of human intellect, such as inventions, designs, trademarks, literary works, computer software, music and films are gaining importance in shaping a country’s development and defining its future prospects. We could even say that the intellectual property system is becoming indispensable to the economic and cultural well-being of any society. At the same time, intellectual property has become closely linked to the globalization of trade because works of mind cross frontiers with ease, especially with new information and communication technologies. This movement has brought intellectual property into the mainstream of economic, social, cultural and technological policies and programs in many countries. More and more countries recognize that intellectual property system contributes to national prosperity through international trade.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Knowledge and technology can serve as tools to combat poverty with their contribution in enhancing market efficiency, creating employment opportunities and sustaining economic growth. In this context, their application in industry, agriculture, health, education and services is critical.
In LDCs where agriculture has a comparative advantage, the use of scientific and intellectual property-related technical information could help increase food production, for example, through better soil management, efficient irrigation and the cultivation of high-yield crops with enhanced nutritional value. It could also play a pivotal role in meeting health-related development objectives, such as those relating to drugs, vaccines, diagnostic systems, access to medical information and systems for monitoring drug quality.
But building technical and scientific capacity that will allow the least developed countries to meet their social and economic challenges requires the participation and sustained support of a range of players including government agencies, international organizations, research and development centres, academic institutions, business and manufacturing enterprises, agricultural organizations, health services, and inventors and creators.
WIPO, as the UN agency dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system plays a key role as it spearheads in programmes aimed at helping countries, including LDCs develop and protect their creative and innovative works. It is well recognized that technology strengthens productive capacity and that ensuring access to technology and promoting innovation are important factors to kick start development and to achieve the structural transformation that LDCs so desire. LDCs recognize this and are willing to mainstream science and technology in their national development policies and programmes.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased that this Ministerial Forum is building on the High-Level Forum on Intellectual Property for the Least Developed Countries which was held in 2009 and in which I participated. It also builds on the High-Level Regional Forums and a Pre-Conference Forum where key policy-makers from LDCs engaged in a very meaningful exchange with counterparts from developing and developed countries as well as with the leaders of intergovernmental organizations and civil society. These kinds of dialogue have helped LDC policy-makers and other officials articulate their needs and consider and put forward proposals to build innovation and creativity institutions and systems.
I acknowledge and am very thankful for WIPO’s numerous programmes directed at equipping the intellectual property (IP) offices of LDCs with information and communication technologies. This is of great importance in the light of ongoing efforts both to strengthen innovation and creativity in the digital environment and to use the power of digital technology to make the flows of invention and creativity cheaper and more efficient and user-friendly.
I should not forget to commend WIPO’s work in the field of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources for the benefit of LDCs. Appropriate protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources can help ensure that local communities who conserve and maintain these resources receive a fair share of the economic benefits derived from their exploitation. Communities can also be empowered to trade in culturally distinct goods and services they derive from their knowledge systems and traditional creativity.
Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Istanbul Plan of Action, which will be adopted by the community of nations gathering here this week recognizes the importance of science, technology and innovation in the development of LDCs. It thus recommends, among the joint actions and I quote “Undertake on a priority basis by 2013 a joint gap and capacity analysis with the aim of establishing a Technology Bank and STI supporting mechanism, dedicated to LDCs which would help improve LDCs’ scientific research and innovation base, … help LDCs access and utilize critical technologies, and draw together bilateral initiatives, support by multilateral institutions and the private sector, building on the existing international initiatives.”
I am thus delighted to hear that at the end of this Forum, you are going to approve and adopt some deliverables recommended by the earlier held Regional Forums and the Pre-Conference Forum of Ministers and Ambassadors. I am pleased to inform you that WIPO’s contributions in enhancing human technical skills, improving access to knowledge, establishment of technology and innovation support centres (TISCs) and support in documentation and digitization of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, among others, will form part of our “Committed to Deliver” conference outcome report. Your deliverables will certainly complement and contribute to the implementation of the Istanbul Plan of Action on science, technology and innovation – with the ultimate goal of enabling LDCs to realize economic gains, wealth creation and employment generation, reduce poverty and experience sustained growth and development.
Before I conclude, I would like to draw your attention to the various events that are going on in parallel with the intergovernmental meetings, including Interactive Thematic Debates, Special Events, Trade Fair, Business Forum and the Civil Society Forum. I would like you to take full advantage of your presence here and consult our Journal and our website for updates on these events’ schedules and programmes.
I thank you for you attention and I wish you success in your deliberations.