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Innovation Matters Podcast

Innovation and New Technologies Driving Progress towards Sustainable Development Goals
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Introduction  

Innovation Matters is a new UNECE podcast series that explores how innovation, or experimentation with ideas to create value, is changing our world and could drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the UNECE region and beyond.

As UNECE member states work to progress towards sustainable development goals, the importance of innovation as a leading driver has grown. Systematically trying out new ideas to create value, govern, and organize society to the benefit of all is essential to find out what works and what does not. These ideas are especially important to address potential challenges and trade-offs, such as the need to reduce poverty while protecting the environment and sustainably using valuable resources.

Innovation is transforming our societies swiftly and affecting a range of sectors and segments of society. Many foresee within the near future a radically different world where large swathes of economic activity have been automated, where autonomous, electric vehicles have made our cars obsolete, and where physical barriers to work have almost disappeared. This, of course, creates enormous opportunities – but also poses challenges, especially for UNECE member states with economies in transition. People are increasingly worried about rising inequality, the decline of steady employment and perhaps even most low- and medium-skilled jobs, and concentration of power and influence among the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple. As the COVID-19 pandemic has alerted us to risks ahead and constrained the already limited financial resources that many UNECE countries have, countries face, now more than before, the imperative to promote innovation and to do so efficiently.

This podcast series aims to help UNECE policymakers and other stakeholders better understand how innovation is transforming our world and what potential opportunities and challenges lie ahead. The episodes engage leading experts on different topics related to innovation, such as the platform economy, the fourth industrial revolution, and the rise of autonomous vehicles.

Innovation Matters is produced by the UNECE Division of Economic Co-operation and Trade under sub-program 4 on Economic co-operation and integration. Episodes will be released twice a month.

 

Podcast is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple Music, and Amazon Music.

 

Subscribe below and stay tuned for forthcoming episodes on the fourth industrial revolution, the rise of autonomous vehicles, and many more. 

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact us via [email protected].

 

Episodes

Episode 1: The Platform Economy – Revolutionising How We Produce, Consume, and Progress towards a Circular Economy? 
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By radically expanding the potential for all of us to make use of resources and excess capacity, digital platforms open up a range of opportunities for UNECE countries – not only for consumption, jobs, and entrepreneurship. In the context of the circular economy transition, the platform economy is potentially one of the most important transformations of our era.  By enabling people to transact in ways previously unimaginable, digital platforms present a range of opportunities – and despite its rapid rise, we are likely only to have scratched the surface. How can we all reduce poverty, ensure economic growth and social inclusion for everyone while managing our resources in a sustainable fashion, as outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 12? The platform economy is one of the ways in which we can resolve this apparent conflict: using capacity better promises a range of possibilities to expand consumption opportunities while keeping resource use sustainable.

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Professor Michael Munger

To help us understand what the platform economy is and why it is so transformational, this pilot episode of Innovation Matters welcomes one of the most distinguished experts in the area, Professor Michael Munger of Duke University. Based on his book “Tomorrow 3.0”, Professor Munger lays out the enormous potential of platforms to bring together potential supply and demand in manifold ways, making it possible for people to share and exchange in ways that were unthinkable for just two decades ago. In this podcast, we will discuss the nature and dynamics of the platform economy, its potential, its long-term impact in the role of public policy both to enable and catalyze platform-based activities in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as managing potential trade-offs and defining the role of government.

 

Episode is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music

 

This week's focus:​

Additional relevant publications:
Relevant UNECE work

Circular Economy 

Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO)

Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • The policy note from ToS-ICP reviewing the nature of, the potential impact of, and consequences for innovation policies and institution of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT):

  • The main page of UN/CEFACT, the focal point within the UNECE on trade facilitation recommendations and electronic business standards, outlining its key areas of work and current projects

Food Loos and Waste

Episode 2: Post-Communist Transition 30 Years on: the Importance of Furthering Broad Innovation to Progress Towards Agenda 2030
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Since the fall of the Soviet Union, UNECE countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia have been undergoing the transition process from the centrally planned economies to the market economy. 30 years later, post-Soviet countries had varied success in reaching the increasingly market economy, bringing interesting findings of how economic development for sustainable development, and innovation policy, in particular, is dependent upon the foundation and the ongoing transition process for UNECE countries.

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Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan

To examine the transition process and the different outcomes for economic policy across these countries, the guest for this episode is Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan from St. John’s University in New York. Dr. V. Gevorkyan’s research areas include macroeconomic policy, economic development, labour migration, with a distinct focus on post-Communist transition economies. Based on his book “Transition Economies: Economic Transformation, Development and Society in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union” (2018), Dr.Gevorkyan traces the economic development process, assessing these countries based on the socialist path they have had, the nature of institutional and structural change affecting the countries in transition before and after the fall of communism. In this podcast, we further discuss how these countries historically evolved in their economic policies and development, the role of central planning and its impact on innovation, the reform efforts and the role of institutions throughout this process.

 

Episode is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music

 

This week's focus:​

Transition Economies: Transformation, Development, and Society in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union by Aleksandr Gevorkyan (2018)

Additional relevant publications:
Relevant UNECE work:

Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO):

  • The 10-page summary of the IPO publication analysing innovation policy reform efforts of the Eastern Europe and South Caucasus region
  • The IPO’s Chapter I on the central role of innovation in the transition towards sustainable development
Episode 3: The Innovation Paradox: Innovation in Transition Economies 
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Given that the potential returns of innovation in developing and catch-up economies is large, why there is so little investment into innovation? This “innovation paradox” is at the centre of this episode.  Despite the enormous potential that innovation, especially gradual innovation building on ideas and technologies that have proven their mettle elsewhere, and despite, in many countries, strong political commitment, UNECE transition economies struggle to innovate in ways that drive productivity growth and sustainable development.  

William Maloney
Professor William Maloney
Xavier Cirera
Dr. Xavier Cirera

Why do good ideas not necessarily translate into innovation, and what can developing countries do about it? We decided to ask this and many other questions to Dr. Xavier Cirera and Professor William Maloney, the economists from the World Bank. In their book called “The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-up”, they examine the nature of innovation in developing countries, the innovation paradox, and what governments can do to resolve the innovation policy dilemma. In this podcast, the authors dissect these elements of why countries do not get the expected rate returns from follower countries to catch up, and what developing countries can do to boost innovation.  

 

Episode is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music

 

This week's focus:​
Additional relevant publications:
Relevant UNECE work: 
Episode 4: The Rise of the Global Digital Economy and the Lessons Transition Economies Could Learn from East Asia
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Often referred to as the Internet or New Economy, the digital economy offers remarkable ways of channelling business through the consumers using the Internet. Each day, billions of people connect with others, purchase services from businesses – all within a click of a button from their electronic devices. These new, rapidly unfolding processes and forms of content, distributed in a variety of digital formats, offer salient opportunities and scope for innovation. Digital economy has been forming a unique part of the global economy far too difficult to ignore – but what is the government’s role in supporting the evolution and promotion of the digital economy?    

speaker
Professor Carin Holroyd
speaker
Professor Ken Coates

In this episode, Professor Carin Holroyd and Professor Ken Coates, both from the University of Saskatchewan, will explore the nature, implications, potential and risks of the government’s policy in digital economy. Based on the author’s publication The Global Digital Economy: A Comparative Policy Analysis, governments still tend to underestimate and misunderstand the economic potential of the digital content sector due to the old mindsets about the traditional industrial economy. Governments still may not know how to support digital content companies – although this is changing in the light of the successes of Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, and the like. As our guests show, experiences from the frontrunners in East Asia – most notably from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore – provide fascinating opportunities to take a closer look at a public use of digital technologies and to consider government policies and efforts to expand the sector.

 

Episode is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple Music, and Amazon Music

 

This week's focus:​

Additional relevant publications: 

 

Relevant UNECE work: 

Episode 5: Holistic Innovation Policy and the Governance of National Innovation Systems
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As Paul Krugman once said, “productivity is not everything, but in the long run, it is almost everything”. Surely, productivity is the most important source of social and economic welfare, but innovation is also the most important source of productivity growth. The difficulty with the innovation processes is that they are evolutionary; we do not know exactly where they are going, and we cannot predict them.

Charles Edquist
Dr. Charles Edquist

To understand how innovation works, the Systems of Innovation approach has emerged – a perspective with strong roots in the Schumpeterian and Austrian schools of economics. Putting this approach into practice, however, has been difficult. One of the most recognised experts in this field, Dr. Charles Edquist from Lund University, has worked on a model that could provide guidance: the holistic view of the innovation policy. In this podcast, we ask Charles about how this approach to innovation can enable us to understand innovation better, what are the determinants of innovation processes and how they can strengthen innovation systems, especially as the basis for good policymaking.

 

Episode is available on: 

SoundCloudSpotifyApple Music, and Amazon Music

 

This week's focus:​

 

Additional relevant publications: 
 
Relevant UNECE work: 

Innovation for Sustainable Development Reviews (I4SDRs):