Turku — The University of Turku and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organized a two-day workshop to launch the Finland-Africa Platform for SDG 9 in Turku, Finland. The meeting brought together over 100 participants from Finnish Universities and Ministries, international and national organizations and businesses in Finland and from over 15 African countries to brainstorm on the implementation and functioning of the Finland-Africa platform for Sustainable Development Goal 9 (innovation).
Launching the Platform, the Minister for Education in Finland, Her Excellency Li Anderson highlighted the importance that the government is placing on education both at home and in foreign countries. She noted that the platform could serve as one of the vehicles for bringing greater visibility to the work of Finland in innovation. She noted that investment in higher education that declined over the last few years has been increased in the current budget year. She appreciated the efforts of University of Turku and the UNECA in designing the platform and wished the platform all the success.
Speaking on behalf of Mrs Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Mr Oliver Chinganya, who is the Director for the African Centre for Statistics and Director a.i. of the Technology, Climate Change and National Resources Management Division, noted that ECA recognizes the centrality of SDG 9 in meeting all the other SDGs. He highlighted that poor infrastructures and limited capacity to innovate have hindered economic and social development with major consequences for the environment, inclusiveness, inequality and fairness. He called on all partners to work together by combining their resources and capabilities to bring about the transformation they desire. He thanked the Government of Finland, the municipality of Turku and the leadership of the University of Turku for the support and for reaching out to ECA.
The Rector of the University of Turku, Professor Juka Kola, and the Ambassador for Innovation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jarmo Sareva, underlined the importance of the platform in providing depth to Finland foreign affairs activities and diffusing the Finnish experts and systems to Africa. They recommended that efforts to develop the platform should be accelerated. A working session between University of Turku and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has been established, refined and work areas identified. Other key personalities present at the platform launch included the Mayor of Turku, who welcomed the participants to the city and provided an overview of how the city was integrating SDGs in its planning.
Several key outcomes were drawn from the two days deliberations. Among others, it was agreed that the focus on SDG9 is important; Africa is the continent of the future; Finland could focus on innovation as it reaches out to Africa, and Finnish education, research and innovation can serve as an alternative model to the continent. It was emphasized that the University of Turku steers the affairs of the project and work with partners at home and abroad to ensure the platform achieve its goals. Participants congratulated efforts of the University in organizing and expand the involvement of other development agencies. Participants also called for the sustainable institutionalization and embeddedness of the platform at the University of Turku for the benefit of related institutions and agencies in Finland.
Background: The platform is a partnership of the University of Turku and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa based on a memorandum of understanding between the two on SDG 9 with a focus on innovation. The University of Turku is institutional node, while the UN ECA serves as its strategic partner for research and training on innovation and entrepreneurship. The platform will support and advance Sustainable Development Goal 9 of the United Nations in Africa. This workshop was organized to brainstorm and develop implementation steps of the platform. Over 20 sessions to showcase potential networks and projects and their scientific, technological, economic and social development impact in Africa were made at the seminar. Several panel sessions by University of Turku, ECA and Government agencies informed the discussions.
The next forum of the Finland-Africa platform for SDG9 (innovation) will be held in 2020. In the meantime, the stakeholders will meet in November 2019 to develop a detailed plan to carve out the long and short term visions, strategy and activities of the Finland-Africa platform for SDG9.