Your Excellency, Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic Turkey,  

Distinguished participants,

Colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to the fourth edition of the Istanbul Innovation Days hosted by UNDP and generously supported by the Government of Turkey.

My sincere thanks to the Minister and to colleagues at the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub for bringing us together.

The diverse and thought-provoking programme for the next two days involves more than 250 people from the widest range of partners and regions ever convened at the Istanbul Innovation Days.

Representatives are here from strategic funders, governments, start-ups, think tanks, civil society, and international organizations at the forefront of changes in governance and peace.

This year’s event is an exciting opportunity to jointly start to address emerging trends in democratic governance.

SDG 16 on inclusive societies is critical to achieving a more just, sustainable, inclusive and peaceful world, and the SDG’s overall. That is this why this year’s Istanbul Innovation Days are to focus on “Next Generation Governance”.

Specifically, we will be working to answer two fundamental questions:

First, what does innovation mean in the context of governance and peacebuilding, and what are its implications for policy-making?

In this, you will be exploring emerging trends and new opportunities related to key components of SDG 16: human rights and rule of law; politics and participatory decision-making; good governance and sustainable growth; responsive public institutions and service delivery.

Together, we will explore the future trajectories of these globally recognised peace and development priorities.

Second, how can innovative approaches combined with technological advancement help adapt current programmes and lead to Next Generation Governance services?

For this you will be experiencing “Zones of Experimentation” embedded throughout the programme during which you will reflect critically on opportunities and new avenues. But we will also ask you to assess the risks new technologies bear at a time when inequalities are rising, risks of conflict are increasing, and civic space is under threat.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

Gatherings like this are essential for us to share and reflect on and connect our collective experiences and perspectives.

Today, science and technology increasingly intersect with governance and politics. When they do, transformations happen in the ways people live, work, interact with each other.

The challenge is to ensure we are innovating not simply for the sake of innovation, but to improve the lives and livelihoods of the poorest, the most vulnerable, marginalized, hardest to reach people living in the face of complex problems which have challenged communities for generations.

I am talking about climate change, which poses an existential threat to humankind. The upsurge of armed violence around the world which 100 years since WW1 is threatening to deepen amid geopolitical currents and tensions. Rising inequality and exclusion of groups and citizens worldwide.

Innovation is not just an endpoint: it can also be a much-needed expression of our humanity.

This is the beginning of a conversation in which all voices must be heard.

Collaborative experimentation and critical discussion are essential for shared learning and for new solutions to emerge.

I very much hope that the 2018 edition of the Istanbul Innovation Days on #NextGenGov will challenge, inspire and provoke us all and inform new approaches and solutions towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs

This is fascinating work that can move very quickly. I assure you that what you talk about and agree here will be integrated into other discussions about development policy at the global, regional and national levels.

In closing, allow me to thank all our partners who contributed to the preparations of this important event.

Special thanks again to our Turkish partners, with whom we have had a longstanding cooperation in addressing the development challenges of our region. We look forward to continuing our joint efforts in support of the SDGs.

I thank you in advance for the hard work you are about to do and look forward to seeing the results.

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